Posture 101: How to relieve Back and Neck Pain

Maintaining proper posture is more than just feeling confident. Good posture reduces back pain and neck pain, increases energy levels, reduces stress on your muscles and ligaments, and, in turn, help to prevent injuries.

Other than constantly hearing your mother screaming, “Stand up straight!” there are noticeable signs of bad posture. To fix it, we’ll talk about some causes of bad posture and exercises to help relieve any associated pain.

What Causes Bad Posture?

Poor sitting and standing habits are usually the culprit for bad posture. The good news is, there are ways to fix the mistakes you’ve been making in your everyday life that contribute to your chronic pain and less-than-ideal posture.

Slouching in your Chair

While slouching may seem more comfortable than sitting up straight in a chair, it’s doing long-term harm. It can increase tension in your back muscles while sitting correctly will keep your body feeling better for longer. So, in short – don’t slouch when sitting.

Standing with “Swayback”

Having a “swayback” refers to a standing position where your bottom sticks out and you have a pronounced arch in your lower back. It can be caused by wearing high heels, excess belly weight, or pregnancy.

Making a conscious effort slightly tuck your hips is necessary to stand with better posture.

Standing with a Flat Back

Opposite to “swayback,” standing with a completely flat lower back can also cause issues. Your pelvis will be overly tucked, instead of with a natural curve, which will make you seem like you’re stooped forward.

Often caused by muscle imbalances or too much time sitting, untucking your pelvis and engaging between your shoulder blades is something you’ll need to work on.

Hunched Back or ”Text Neck”

When you hunch your back over a keyboard or as you’re texting on a cell phone, it’s usually a signal that you have a tight chest and weak upper back. Therefore, stretches to open up your chest as well as strengthening exercises for your upper back are suggested.

Leaning on One Leg

Leaning to one side may seem like the more comfortable choice, but after constant repetition, your body will begin to show imbalances which often cause pain. Carrying backpacks on one shoulder or carrying a baby on one hip can create the same issues.

Try getting into the habit of standing with your weight evenly distributed between both feet.

Lifted Chin

Also known as poking your chin, this poor posture is usually associated with sitting in a chair that’s too low, working on a computer screen that’s too high, hunched back issues, or a combination of the three.

Work on extending through the back of your neck as you tuck your chin, rolling your shoulder blades back and down, as well as activating your lower core. Of course, adjusting your seat can also help.

Rounded Shoulders

When standing up straight with your arms resting at your sides, you should see your thumbs in the mirror, not your knuckles. If you see your knuckles, your shoulders are rounding too far forward.

Usually a case of poor posture habits, rounded shoulders can be helped by stretching through your chest and strengthening your upper back.

Phone Cradling

If you cradle a phone between your neck and your shoulder, it can strain the muscles of your neck and cause postural problems. Try holding your phone in your hand or, even better, use a hands-free option.

Exercises to Improve Your Posture

Try these exercises if you’re looking to improve your posture.

Child’s Pose

  • Sit on shinbones with knees and toes together.
  • Fold forward at the hips, walk your hands out along the ground, and place your forehead on the ground.
  • Relax here for up to five minutes.

Forward Fold

  • Stand up straight with toes touching or feet hip-width apart.
  • Hinge at the hips and fold forward aiming to touch the floor.
  • Bend knees slightly, soften at the hips, and lengthen your spine.

Cat-Cow

  • Come to your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  • Inhale and drop your belly toward the ground.
  • Exhale and arch your back bringing your belly toward your spine.
  • Continue alternating for at least one minute.

Chest Opener

  • Standing with your feet hip-width apart, clasp your hands behind your back.
  • Inhale as you lift your chest toward the ceiling while continuing to look straight forward and reach your hands toward the ground.
  • Hold for five seconds, release, and repeat at least ten times.

Pigeon

  • Come to all fours in a tabletop position.
  • Bring your left knee to your left wrist and straighten your right leg behind you, keeping your hips square.
  • Lower your pelvis to the floor and relax into the position.
  • Release your torso to fold over your left leg.
  • Hold for up to one minute and repeat on the other side.

By stretching, strengthening, and eliminating bad habits, you can steadily improve your posture over time. Your mother is sure to be impressed.

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