Stand Tall

Hunched over your phone, furiously texting back and forth with your friends. Bent over your controller, racking up points in your favorite video game. Slumped in your car seat, dredging your way through the morning commute. Slouched over, trying not to draw attention to yourself… There’s a common theme here and its really crappy posture.

Image result for text neck

Most of what we naturally do on a day-to-day basis involves a reaching pattern – reaching for the steering wheel, reaching for doors or objects, reaching for the computer keyboard or writing utensil. Rarely is what we do a pulling movement, except for those moments in the gym. Our bodies are very adaptable which can be a good thing AND a bad thing. Right now, the hunched over forward head posture is becoming more and more the norm which is introducing all kinds of physical health problems.

Upper crossed syndrome (or more aptly named “text neck”) is a muscular imbalance in the upper region of the body. Our bodies are interconnected through a kinetic chain and one imbalanced muscle group can throw the whole thing off. The picture to the side highlights the muscles more commonly affected with UCS.

This imbalance used to just be seen in the elderly from years of chronic poor posture and athletics-wise in swimmer’s from the muscles that are naturally strengthened with their sport. Nowadays, it can be seen everywhere as we adapt to the world around us. Some of the more common symptoms associated with UCS include headaches, neck pain, numbness and tingling in the upper extremity, jaw pain, restricted mobility in the upper back and shoulders, and restricted breathing. If you can relate to any of this, guess what?! There’s so much you can do to help yourself!

One of the best products I’ve found to help combat this posture is my Intelliskin sports bra. It utilizes the concept of using kinesiotape to activate the postural muscles (instead of just bracing) without the work of reapplying the tape. I was introduced to the company when I worked at a chiropractic office in Florida and since then have continued to stock up on their sports bras and recommend them to everyonnnnne. When I first started wearing them, I had to bring a back up to work to change during my lunch break. My muscles felt exhausted from being constantly activated to keep my shoulders back. Now that they’ve gotten stronger, I wear mine maybe once a week to serve as a reminder in case I start slouching at work.

Outside of products, I also have some go-to stretches and strengthening exercises I use. Yoga is amazing in what it can do for your body, especially the heart-opening poses.

Image result for yoga heart openers
Heart Opener

Image result for chest self myofascial release

Using items around the house/gym like a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or foam roller can be great for self-myofascial release on the pectorals. Laying face down can be a little intense on the shoulder so standing utilizing a wall can be just as effective. There are so many trigger points and fascial restriction built up in that area, it definitely needs some self-love.

Blackburns
*hand placement is key in using the correct muscles for each position*

I personally use the Blackburn series to focus on strengthening my scapular stabilizers and rotator cuff muscles. It is 6 different poses, focusing on small movements within the back and shoulders. Doing them correctly does take some body awareness (IMO) as we naturally tend to utilize the overworked upper traps and levator instead of the weaker muscles we want to use. When I teach these to my patients, I typically start standing so they can actually see their form in the mirror and get use to doing the exercises properly before shifting to face down. What I also like about them, is the exercises can be done anywhere (I did them waiting for the water to heat up my shower this morning!) but you can also advance them in so many different ways – standing vs prone, adding weights, adding resistance, adding a longer hold on each rep. So many different variations!

Stand tall, throw your shoulders back, and take in the view around you! 

stand tall

 

{ Seeing a doctor to rule out other issues always a good idea 😉 }

 

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