Bad back? Shoulders hurt? Headaches? Muscle fatigue? Pot belly?
These symptoms can all be down to bad posture.
The way we hold ourselves everyday is vitally important. Years of bad posture can lead to changes in height, muscle balance and strength.
Negative effects of bad posture can be anything from back pain, shoulder impingement to headaches.
When our spine is not in alignment certain muscles can become tight and others weak causing muscle imbalances. This constant stress on the spine can cause pressure on tissues and painful outcomes.
Limited mobility is a major effect of poor posture and can effect everyday life. So many people don’t realise the effect that their lifestyle is having on their posture until it’s hurting and causing pain. It can be prevented well before that.
Poor posture (left)
- forward head
- rounding shoulders
- chest tight
- core not engaged
- head straight
- chest open
- shoulders back and down
- straight back
- core engaged
Factors that can cause poor posture
- Injury and muscles guarding. If we get injured we can often alter the way we move. This can become our new normal movement even when the injury is gone if we are not careful. This causes certain muscles to become more tight, others to stay and become weak. If we learn a new motor behaviour and it’s the wrong one we can cause more problems later on. Learning to trust the old injury and stop guarding it and anticipating pain is vital. We cannot guard an injury that needs to learn and strengthen from correct movement again. When we get injured that muscle can become weak from not being used if we have been resting for 6weeks for example. We need to strengthen it again when we can as part of rehab.
- Muscle imbalances. As above if we get injured or have a known weakness we don’t want the other side of the body to compensate (e.g if injured right knee) and become a leading side allowing the other to become weaker over time. That will cause issues up and down the chain. If we exercise and life weights it’s vital to take on a full body approach and not just train chest and arms every day as muscle imbalances can occur. It’s vital to stretch everyday too. Tight muscles can change posture e.g tight pecs can round the shoulders.
- daily habits. Your posture at your desk, looking at your phone, being tall and always looking down, rounding your back to bend over the kids, slouching and sitting position when watching tv. These daily tasks can affect your posture. Day in day out, do you hold yourself tall, tuck your chin in and engage your core?
- Technology and phones. As above the way we look at our phones and computer screens (rounding our head and looking down) for hours usually in a day and isn’t doing our posture any good. We should bring the phone or screen up to our eyeliner. That way we can keep a straighter neck and spine alignment. Keeping a straighter back allows you to engage your core aswell.
- stress and emotions. When we are stressed it can cause shallow breathing and overly active muscles, altering posture. If we are timid or anxious we might hold ourselves in a position to try not to draw attention. If a lady is conscious of her bigger breasts she may round her shoulders and hunch to not draw attention to her chest. All of these factors can affect the way we hold ourselves without even knowing.
- footwear. Years of wearing high heels can alter our posture. Having the correct footwear is so important not just for posture but for our feet and mechanics. A problem with the ankle can soon lead up the chain to the back and shoulders.
- Hereditary and genes. Sometimes our genes play a part and being born with a spine issue like scoliosis may alter your muscle balance anyway. This is where it’s important to speak to a professional and take advice on how to help your body become stronger and limit muscle imbalances.
If you want more help with your posture and muscle balance feel free to contact me. I’m a corrective exercise specialist and help many people become more mobile and flexible in their everyday lives.