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Poor Sitting, Standing and Screen Time Posture Can Lead to Discomfort

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How good is your posture? If you spend hours driving, texting, typing or even just sleeping in the wrong position, the odds are you have either poor posture or neck pain. Spending extended periods of time in incorrect position can lead to incorrect movement patterns and increase your injury risk over time. Posture is extremely important, especially when it comes to preventing neck-related injuries. As a society, we tend to spend large amounts of time sitting at computers, reading e-mails and texts on our phones and watching TV. As ‘relaxing’ as some of these activities can be, they actually put abnormal stress on our neck if performed with poor posture. Poor posture often develops from bad habits and weakness in a key muscle group: your scapular muscles.

The scapular muscles are the muscles that surround the shoulder blade and help you sit up straight. The middle trapezius, lower trapezius, and rhomboids are the 3 major muscles that help us sit up straight. We tend to sit with our backs rounded and shoulders forward (slouched), which results in the scapular muscles becoming over stretched. An over stretched muscle is a weak muscle. Patients with this condition will complain of neck and upper back pain or say “it’s too tiring to sit up straight.” A slouched posture also causes our head to move forward in what’s called a forward head posture. This is a common cause of headaches and significant muscle tightness in the muscles at the base of the skull. By training these muscles to work optimally, we are able to sit up straight for long periods of time and take all the stress off our necks. It will also decrease the frequency and intensity of headaches and can even decrease lower back pain.

Posture Checklist:

Seated:

  • Is your neck in a neutral position?
  • Is your back supported by a chair?
  • Are your feet flat on the floor and knees at a 90 degree angle?
  • Are your shoulder blades pulled down and back without arching your low back?

Standing:

  • Are your feet flat on the floor?
  • Are your knees slightly relaxed?
  • Are your shoulder blades pulled down and back without arching your low back?
  • Are your head and neck in a neutral position?

One of the best ways to see if your posture is putting you an at increased risk for a neck injury is to look at the motion that you have. Try these quick home tests:

Neck Flexion Test

    • Sit in a chair with your back supported and your mouth closed.
    • Imagine the top of your head is a clock. Without slumping your shoulders, bring your chin towards your chest, or 6:00.

    This test should be pain free and you should be able to fit less than the width of four fingers in between your chin and chest.

Neck Extension Test

    • Sit in a chair with your back supported.
    • Without slumping your shoulders, tilt your head backwards so you can see the ceiling, or 12:00.

    This test should be pain free and you should be able to look up at the ceiling with your nose parallel to the ground.

     

Neck Rotation Test

  

    • Sit in a chair with your back supported.
    • Without slumping your shoulders, turn your head as far to the left as you can, or 9:00. Repeat the same thing to the other side, or 3:00

    This test should be pain free and you should be able to bring your chin within three finger widths of your shoulder. The difference between the left and the right side should be less than the width of two fingers.

 

Neck Lateral Flexion Test

 

    • Sit in a chair with your back supported.
    • Without slumping your shoulders and your eyes facing forward, tilt your head so that you bring your ear towards your shoulder.

    This test should be pain free. Imagine your head is the top of a clock. You should be able to bring your ear to about 2:00 and 10:00 on either side.

 

If you had difficult performing any of these tests as instructed, DON’T WAIT! Call Loudoun Sports Therapy TODAY at 703-450-4300 so we can address your posture problems. Physical therapy will teach you how to effectively use your scapular muscles, teach you proper postures for daily activities, and improve your overall neck and upper back health to allow you complete all daily tasks pain free.