If you have been in my class than you are aware of how often I ask you to be mindful of your posture. If you exercise with poor posture you will get hurt over time. So I am constantly reminding everyone to maintain proper form and technique. In fact, this is why I end many of my classes with a upward stretch, saying, “take a deep breath in, reaching your arms up, making yourself taller than you were when you came in!” I am trying to combat the ill effects of computer and cell phone activities.

Last week, I visited with my physio because of some shoulder pain I was experiencing. After a proper evaluation she found that the problem was coming from my neck. I will spare you the details but I spend a fair amount of time working on my laptop and my cell phone which causes my neck to move in front of my shoulders. The above pictures demonstrate this posture. I am sure many of you can relate to sitting this way for at least part of the day.

Dr. Travis McDonough, ( Can Fit Pro Interactive), explains that this posture can lead to the following health problems:
* For every half an inch that the head moves in front of the shoulder, this increases the weight of the head by 20lbs. This can lead to neck pain, jaw problems and headaches, all of which I have had lately.

* In this rounded position we compress the chest which makes it harder to breathe. In order to breathe in this position, we have to raise our shoulders to allow the diaphragm to go down. When we do this with each breath, it leads to tightness and tension in the upper back and neck. I have had a few young people lately tell me they sometimes feel like they are having a heart attack because their chest feels so tight and hurts to breathe. In their case it was all related to poor posture.

*Our vertebrae are meant to stack on top of each other and when we assume this hunched position over time, the vertebrae at the front get compressed and this can lead to “Dowager’s Hump” or a hunched back. It is most often associated with the elderly but in my work, I am seeing it manifest much earlier. Have a look at yourself in the mirror as you stand sideways. Stand normally. Is your upper back rounded and are you starting to see a “hump?”  None of us want this. Keeping your back straight will help you to avoid this.

* Shoulder problems can become quite serious when we assume this hunched over position as the muscles in our chest get tight and the muscles in the back get loose.  This imbalance can lead to rotator cuff injuries which are very painful, and costly to remedy with physio or surgery.

How can we fix this problem right now?

Dr. McDononough suggests the following to minimize the impact:

* “Chin Retraction Exercise.” Move the chin back to it’s natural position over the spine and then pretend you are balancing a book on top of your head. Do this for 3 seconds and then relax. Repeat.

* Squeeze the shoulder blades together and then relax. Repeat.

I recommend that if you spend most of your day on the computer, get up every 20 minutes and walk around. Do the above exercises and resume your activities.  Try to keep the head and shoulders back.

I hope that this helps you to avoid pain and chronic health problems in the future. 

Have a great day everyone.