Crossing one leg over the other while you work at your desk. Dropping your chin when you read on your phone. Slumping your shoulders forward. Your body’s posture over time can misalign your musculoskeletal system.
In fact, years of letting yourself slouch can weaken your spine and increase your risk of injury. Poor posture also decreases your flexibility and balance.
As you get older, federal health authorities say it becomes even more important to maintain good posture, strength, flexibility and balance.
“Older adults tend to adopt a progressively hunched posture,” said Dr. George Salem, an NIH-funded researcher at the University of Southern California who studies how movement affects health and quality of life. “When shoulders continue to round forward over time, it creates excessive loading on the shoulder joint. This can create injury and limit the independence of older adults.”
One way to improve back, neck and shoulder pain – and prevent it – is to practice good posture at all times. Yoga and tai chi classes can also help because they teach you to be mindful of how your body feels. When you practice body awareness throughout your day, you’ll notice when you’re slouching or sitting in a way that aggravates your neck.
“Be mindful of your posture and how you’re moving,” Salem said. “Think about lifting your head, pulling your shoulders back, and tightening your abdominal muscles in everyday situations.” Be aware of repetitive postures, like regularly lifting heavy objects, and holding positions for a long time, like sitting at a computer all day at work.
Make sure your workstation doesn’t create posture problems. How your chair fits you, the height of your computer monitor and the height of your desk can all make a difference in whether you head home in pain.
Standing up often to take a brief walk and stretch can help relieve muscle tension, too.
If good posture doesn’t improve your pain, make sure to consult an orthopaedic specialist.
Source: NIH, News In Health
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