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  • Writer's pictureHannah Kurz, PT, DPT

Why do I have Poor Posture?

(and what you can do to fix it)

 

Once you get stuck in a habit of a slouched stance, it can seem impossible to stand up tall. Luckily, there are ways to combat even the most long term poor postural habits.


Posture is defined as "the attitude assumed by the body either with support during the course of muscular activity or as the result of the coordinated action performed by a group of muscles working to maintain stability." (1) Often times posture is associated with the position of the neck and shoulders, however poor posture can stem from any part of the body.


So how does one get stuck in a postural rut? Generally speaking, lifestyle habits are to blame. Poor work ergonomics, inactivity, high levels of stress, improper sleeping positions and too much screen time are major contributing factors. But prior injuries, muscle tension or weakness and genetics can also play a role.


Poor posture can lead to a variety of health concerns such as headaches, TMJ issues, neck and shoulder pain, and can even cause issues further down the chain such as impaired balance, decreased hip flexibility and increased pressure in the spine.


Correcting posture starts with correction of poor daily habits such as slouching in front of your computer screen, wearing improper footwear, inactivity, excess weight and stress. This takes time and patience as new habits do not form overnight. Try setting an alarm to remind you to get up and take a walk around your office - and while you're at it, check out our blog post on proper ergonomic work setup here. Mediation, yoga or walking may also be helpful if stress and inactivity are problematic for you.


Postural muscle extensibility and endurance are key for good posture. Below are some exercises to try to address both of these issues in some of the common muscular culprits of poor posture. It is important to note that postural exercises are not a one size fit all and physical therapists are training to assess alignment and provide personalized recommendations based on individual presentation. To learn more, contact us here.


Chin tucks

While lying on your back, relax your shoulders and tuck your chin towards your chest. Make sure to press the back of your head into the couch/bed throughout the movement. You should feel a slight stretch in the back of your neck. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.





ITYs

Lie face down with your arm dangling over the side of the couch/bed. Squeeze your shoulder blades together towards your spine and down your back. Keep shoulders engaged as you complete the following movements:

Is: Raise your arm back while keeping it close your body and your thumbs pointed downward. Repeat 10 times.

Ts: Raise your arm upward towards the ceiling with your thumbs pointed upward. Repeat 10 times.

Ys: Raise your arm out to the side and upwards towards the ceiling with your thumbs pointed upward. Repeat 10 times.



Door stretch

Place your arms up on a door jam. Take a small step forward with one foot through the doorway and bend your knee until a stretch is felt along the front of your chest. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat twice.





Upper trap stretch

While sitting in a chair, hold the seat with one hand and place your other hand on your head, allowing the weight of your hand to gentle pull your ear towards your shoulder. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat twice on each side.






At White Mountain Physical Therapy, our therapists will help you identify problematic lifestyle factors, perform a comprehensive full body screening to weed out alignment issues, and prescribe you an individualized exercise program to target your specific deficits. Give us a call at 603-273-1570.


References:

(1) Gardiner MD. The principles of exercise therapy. Bell; 1957.

(2) Pictures provided by hep2go.com

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