Practicing good posture makes good sense for everyone. But it’s especially important if you have chronic neck or back pain. The muscles and ligaments in your neck and back have to work harder when you slouch or have other poor posture habits. This extra strain causes muscle fatigue and triggers pain. As a result, poor posture can cause neck and back problems and can also make any neck or back pain you already have worse. Practicing good posture is just one way you can help take care of your spine each day. Ask your chiropractic doctor or physical therapist if you have questions about your posture or about any of the suggestions listed below.
- Do special exercises to stretch and strengthen your neck and back muscles.
The spinal muscles require strength and endurance to allow you to not only perform your normal activities but also helps you maintain good posture throughout the day. Keeping your neck and back muscles strong helps improve your posture and helps protect your neck and back. If you already have neck or back pain, it’s important to talk to your physical therapist or chiropractor first to find out what exercises are best for you.
- Practice sitting the right way by following these tips:
- Rest both feet flat on the floor.
- Sit with your back against the chair.
- Keep your knees level with your hips.
- Imagine the top of your head stretching toward the ceiling.
- Tuck your chin in just a bit.
- Keep your stomach firm.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed.
- When standing follow this tip to make sure you are standing with good posture:
Reach above your head like you were trying to touch the ceiling. Being aware of your posture drop your arms to you side while maintaining this posture.
- Watch your head.
A forward head is a common poor posture that can be hard on your neck. To avoid this posture, keep your ears aligned with your shoulders and your chin slightly tucked. Imagine the crown of your head stretching toward the ceiling.
- Watch your shoulders.
Whether standing or sitting, try to keep your shoulders even (not one higher than the other). Keep them relaxed and down, not slouched forward or severely pulled back. Slouched shoulders can strain neck muscles, shorten your chest muscles, and reduce flexibility. Slouched shoulders also make it hard to breathe deeply.
- Take breaks often and stretch.
Take breaks at least every 45 minutes when sitting or standing for long periods of time, even if practicing good posture. Set an alarm on your phone or computer to help you remember. Doing some mild range of motion or easy stretching exercises during this short break will help release the tension in your neck and back.
- Take care when doing everyday activities and movements.
Follow tips like these to protect your neck:
- Keep your head back (over your spine) to reduce neck strain.
- Avoid looking down at your mobile device for long periods
- Keep your prescription up-to-date if you wear glasses or contacts to avoid needing to lean forward to see things.
- Wear purses and shoulder bags across your body, not hanging down straight off of one shoulder.
- Be aware of bending your head down for long periods of time as you read, sew, work with your hands, or do other hobbies. Try to keep tasks at eye-level.
- Stay aware of your posture. Notice any repetitive movements that may make pain worse.
- Reduce the intensity of your sport or exercise program if it causes neck pain.
- Talk to your chiropractor about exercises and activities that are right for you.
Ask your chiropractor or physical therapist if there are any tests, referrals, or treatments that might be helpful to use along with your current treatment plan. At The Center for Total Back Care we utilize the latest technologies such as MedX and rehabilitation machines to improve the strength and endurance in your spinal muscles which will better assist you in maintaining correct posture and reduce your neck or back pain.