5 Everyday Habits That May Be Harming Your Posture And Causing You Pain

5 Everyday Habits That May Be Harming Your Posture And Causing You Pain

No matter who you are, this blog pertains to you. Chances are you, or someone you know, suffers from pain, related to poor posture…

Aside from causing you aches and pains, bad posture can have several negative health consequences.

Dysfunctional body position can affect your breathing, circulatory system, digestive system, and overall body system efficiency. Studies have even shown that posture can effect how others perceive you in a professional setting, be it competent, or incompetent.

First, lets define “good posture.” Good posture is a position in which the pelvis, trunk and head are in neutral alignment. One way of determining whether you have “good” posture is to have someone take a picture of you from an anterior view and a lateral view with your feet hip width apart and your hands at your side. If you are able draw a straight line from the top of your head, through your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle, you have healthy posture.

Feet: Straight and parallel, not turning out
Knees: In line with toes
Feet: Pelvis level, not tilting forward or back
Shoulders: Level, not elevated toward the ears or rounded forward
Head: Neutral

good-posture

Now that we have identified good posture, lets take a look at 5 common habits that may be harming your posture and causing you pain.

1. PUTTING YOUR WALLET IN YOUR BACK POCKET

If you put your wallet in your back pocket most likely at some point you will be sitting on it.

HARM:
When you sit, one of your cheeks is elevated creating an uneven surface for the hip bones, consequently twisting the pelvis. Do this consistently and your sciatic nerve can become irritated causing sciatica, piriformis syndrome and in many cases lower back pain. Not to mention long term affects on your posture.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
1. Move your wallet to your front pocket!
2. If you are experiencing discomfort in your hip/ glute area, try releasing the region with a foam roller or lacrosse ball. Follow release with stretch.

2. CARRYING A HEAVY PURSE

Now ladies..and in some cases men :) Be mindful of the weight of your purse!

HARM: Carrying an asymmetric load strains the muscles in your shoulders and neck and throws of your walking gait. If you notice one of your shoulders is higher than the other, or your neck protrudes forward this may be the reason why. If you experience tension headaches, your bag may be one of the things on the list contributing to your discomfort.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
1. Opt for a smaller purse and limit yourself to essentials!

2. Release your pecs, traps and lats.(see videos below) If you find that you
are still experiencing discomfort, seek out a massage therapist to massage
scalenes and levator scapulae.

3. Wearing High Heels

Shoes can pose problems for your body because we were never meant to wear heavy material with a “one design fits all” approach on our soles but… the higher the heels the bigger the problem.

HARM:
Humans are meant to walk heel to toe. When you wear high heels you alter the mechanics of walking gait. Your body will try to compensate for the unnatural foot position bringing the low back and hips forward, taking the spine out of alignment, and placing pressure on your knees. Daily use over time can result in dysfunctional posture even when the heels are off. Common issues as a result of wearing heels include achilles tendinitis, knee pain, low back pain and foot pain.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
1. Wear flatter shoes as often as possible.
2. Release your glute medius, piriformis, rectus femoris, tfl, It band and calf
muscles with a foam roller or lacrosse ball.

See Glute medius, pirifomis and tfl videos above.

4. Sitting For Long Periods Of Time

If you have a job that requires time in front of a computer, chances are you have experienced low back pain, shoulder and neck pain at some point in time after a long day at work.

HARM:
When you have a screen in front of you you are naturally going to want to bring your head forward placing strain on your neck and shoulders. When you work on a key board, your shoulders will want elevate during typing. We see similar postures during driving. All sorts of muscle imbalances occur as a result of tension in the seated position.

  • Shortened:
  • -Upper traps
  • -Levator scapulae
  • -Lats
  • -Pecs
  • -Hip Flexors
  • -Adductors
  • -Gastrocnemius
  • Lengthened:
  • -Deep cervical flexors
  • -Serratus anterior
  • -Lower traps
  • -Mid traps
  • -Gluteus max
  • -Gluteus medius
  • -Anterior tibialis

There are ergonomic experts that can come to your place of business and adjust your work station to make it better for your body but sitting for hours on end will take its toll regardless.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
1. Get up to walk around regularly
2. Stretch periodically (hip flexors, pecs, lats, levator scapulae)

5. Too Much Muscle Isolation

Do you fit any of these scenarios? You have rounded forward shoulders but you do pushups all the time? Are disciplined when it comes to cardio but don’t do anything for strength or flexibility? Do you belong to a gym but don’t know much about exercise so you go from one fixed machine to the next? If any of these sound like you, you lack balance.

HARM:
1. If scenario one sounds like you, you might be choosing exercises that build on postural dysfunction.
2. If scenario two sounds like you, you are compromising bone and joint health.
3. If scenario three sounds like you, while fixed weight equipment can be beneficial, most of these machines focus on one muscle group at a time with little core function.A strong core will help protect the spine and improve alingment.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
1. Release the pecs and shoulders and focus on exercises that improve thoracic extension.
2. It is important to have a balanced workout routine that includes full body
exercises that integrate the lower and upper half to strengthen the core. A
strong core will help protect your spinal alignment and improve your posture.

Changing the habits is the first step, you will also need to address the muscle compensations that have occurred as a result of years of bad habits. Using a balanced approach, changing habits, releasing tension and correcting posture will help address existing pain and prevent future pain. PLEASE SHARE :)

Sources and References
Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins. “Assessments, Training Concepts, and Program Design.”
NASM Essentials Of Personal Fitness Training. 4th ed. Baltimore: Wolters Kluwer, 2012.
123-28. Print.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/sitting-disease/bgp-20056238

“Why Sitting Is Wrecking Your Health – SpineCare Chiropractic.” SpineCare
Chiropractic. N.p., 28 Aug. 2014. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.

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