You’re No Slouch! Proper Posture Can Decrease Neck and Back Pain

Take it from your Mom, you look slumpy if you slouch.

Take it from your Pain Management physician, good body alignment is everything. And can often even relieve your aches and pains.

Slouching stresses muscles, strains ligaments, impairs your range of motion and can cause stiffness from your neck to your lower back. That’s not made any easier by the weight we tend to gain as we get older and less active.

If you think of the ligaments between your bones as rubber bands holding everything in place, then you can imagine that if the rubber bands get too stretchy, everything is going to eventually collapse. Slouching—with your shoulders rounded over and your head tilted forward—doesn’t allow the rubber bands to do their work. Bad posture stretches the ligaments and puts a strain on your poor neck and back muscles.

Maybe gravity has snuck up on you. Maybe you’re slouching and you don’t even know it. Training yourself to stand up straight again might be just what you need to ease that neck pain and lower back pain.

I recommend these exercises for improving your posture. Practicing either of these movements on a flat surface without back support allows you to better focus on position, but keep in mind that a good, supportive chair with lumbar and arm support is invaluable for long hours of sitting. (You thought your posture was bad now, try sitting on a stool at your desk all day!)

Shoulder blade pull: Pull your shoulder blades straight back toward one another and angle them slowly and slightly downward. Don’t shrug up, this actually decreases the arching of your lower back and allows your abdominals to start slouching again. Hold the blades back, release, repeat. This exercise can be completed whether standing or sitting but is particularly helpful after being in one position or the other for a long while.

Shoulder alignment posture: Pull your head back to align your ears with your shoulders. This is not a tilting of the head, keep your eyes on the horizon the whole time. Don’t puff out your chest or lean back on your pelvis, focus just on ears and shoulders. When they are in alignment, you are in alignment.

The key to better posture is better training. We learned how to slouch through a long period of adjustment, now it’s time to learn how to stand up straight again. Your neck and back will thank you!

And if chronic neck pain or back pain don’t seem to improve, let Lonseth Interventional Pain Medicine do an evaluation and help get you back on the road pain-free, usually without drugs or surgery. Call (504) 327-5857 for an appointment today.