Check 1, Check 2, Check 3...For Your Posture Check

One of the most common injuries I see in my office is poor posture. In fact, regardless of the primary reason a patient comes to see me for physical therapy, I could argue that 99% of my patients have “abnormal posture” as a secondary injury.


A twenty-something-old started physical therapy a few weeks ago. His primary complaint was shoulder blade pain with reaching forward. His secondary problem was occasional low back pain.


Guess what the root cause of his problem is?




Yes, I am screaming at the top of my lungs because posture affects EVERYTHING!


If your shoulders are rounded forward, your neck is forward, your mid-back is slumped, and your lower back lacks its normal curve, then you will have problems.




Because your entire body is more forward than it is supposed to be so your center of gravity is also forward. Your body does not work as efficiently when our center of gravity is in front of hips and feet. 


Your center of gravity should be just below your navel and it represents the body’s position where the upper body and lower body are in balance.


If your center of gravity is moved forward because your upper body and trunk are leaning forward, your entire spine is influenced by this shift. Your brain basically is telling your body, “Hey, don’t fall over and don’t let your head fall off your body!”


Your body responds, “Hey brain, I hear you so I’ll checkrein myself!” Your muscles will pull on your head so your eyes can stay level with the ground...kind of like pulling on the reins of a horse to tell it what direction to go.


The problem with this “checkrein” is that it creates a lot of muscle tension in the neck. And some of the muscles in the neck that attach at the base of the skull run the entire length of your spine and attach at your pelvis. Thus, if these neck muscles are tight, then they also create tightness through the mid back and low back. 


Why are these muscles tight?


Because they are in constant contraction. They are constantly working to try to keep you upright so you don’t fall over!


How does your neck and back feel right now?

Have you ever suffered with neck tension?

What about a tight back?

What about feeling like you just can’t get loose?


These are all chronic symptoms of poor posture.


Let me list a few more signs and symptoms of poor posture and see if you can relate:

  • Chronic neck tension
  • Tightness throughout the back that doesn’t seem to go away
  • Symptoms are less in the morning
  • Symptoms are worse after sitting for awhile, especially after sitting at the computer
  • Symptoms are worse after using a smartphone or reading
  • Head feels heavy
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty sitting or standing up straight
  • Loss of neck mobility - difficulty checking blindspot while driving
  • Tight hips
  • Tight shoulders
  • Pain in the neck, mid-back, and low back
  • Forward head
  • Rounded shoulders
  • Hunched upper back
  • Lacks low back curve


If any of these sound familiar, I recommend trying a Posture Check x3 a few times per day:

  • 90/90/90 Sitting Position
    • Elbows at 90 degrees so hands are aligned with the keyboard
    • Hips at 90 degrees
    • Knees at 90 degrees
    • Feet flat on floor
  • Stand Tall Against A Door
    • Try to get your heels, buttocks, and back of your head flat against the back of a door. Once you feel like you are aligned with the door, step away from the door and try to maintain that upright posture for as long as you can.
  • Shoulder Blade Squeeze
    • Try drawing your shoulder blades down and in as you breathe in through your belly. Diaphragmatic breathing (belly out as you breathe in; belly in as you breathe out) with shoulder blade squeezes are a great posture exercise to promote not only good posture, but also muscle relaxation and improve circulation.

I hope trying a Posture Check x3 helps your muscles feel less tight and tense. Please remember that if you are experiencing symptoms for more than 7-10 days, your symptoms probably aren’t going away on their own. I am in no way trying to diagnose or treat anyone through this blog and I definitely recommend seeking a Doctor of Physical Therapy like myself if you are experiencing any of the above listed signs and symptoms. If you would like to start a conversation or receive a Free Posture Check, please call my office at 262-771-0404. Our team is waiting to hear from you AND help you! 


To Your Best Health,

Dr. Jeanette


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