Good posture protects you against back pain and also improves your overall health and appearance. Poor posture, on the other hand, promotes back pain and can affect the position and function of your abdominal organs, inhibit breathing and oxygen intake, and cause headaches. It may also affect mood.
Posture is the way you hold your body while standing, sitting, or performing tasks like lifting, bending, pulling, or reaching. If your posture is good, the bones of the spine — the vertebrae — are correctly aligned.
Good posture means keeping the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar curves in balance and aligned, with weight distributed evenly over the feet. Seen from the side, your ear, shoulder top, hip, knee, and ankle should line up vertically when you’re standing.
Any activity that causes the body to look down and forward for long periods of time can contribute to slumped or rounded shoulders.
These positions disrupt how the muscles in the neck, back, and shoulders normally function. It is these muscles that control the way the body maintains its posture throughout the day.
Daily tasks that may contribute to rounded shoulders include:
- using a smartphone or tablet
- using a computer or laptop
- sitting for long periods
- driving a vehicle
- bending over repeatedly
- carrying heavy objects all day
By inadvertently training the body to be hunched forward over time, the muscles interpret this slumped position as the body’s natural state. This can be very harmful for the body if left untreated.
Increased stress on the shoulder joints can cause pain around the neck and upper back.
Risks of Rounded Shoulders.
Strain and Pain: The most common side effect of rounded shoulders and one you might be already experiencing is strain and pain. Rounded shoulders put a great deal of stress in the trapezoids, upper back, and neck muscles. The results at the lowest end are muscle aches, and at the other end, you might suffer from pain that needs medical intervention. Rounded shoulders can also promote headaches, which can easily ruin a productive day.
Headaches: Continuing with the point above, the tension from overused and tight shoulder and neck muscles can trigger common tension headaches. These headaches can then become more severe, leading to migraine or cluster headaches. If not directly, rounded shoulders can cause headaches indirectly
Arthritis: Rounded shoulders and arthritis are involved in a vicious cycle with one fueling the other. The wear and tear that comes as a part of the behaviors that promote rounded shoulders such as constant smartphone usage and working at a computer all day trigger the inflammation that causes arthritis. Once arthritis begins to set in and the inflammation worsens, patients experience a dramatic decrease in the range of motion and usage of the shoulders. In order to avoid the pain associated with arthritis, patients will remain in a hunched, rounded shoulders posture.
Increased Risk of Serious Injury: If you have rounded shoulders long enough, you are most likely going to develop postural distortions, and this will dramatically increase your risk of injury. Postural distortions place your muscles in an uncompromising position where too much stress is being placed in one area. This will increase your risk for strains, breaks, and tears.
How to correct rounded shoulders.
Door way Stretch
Because the abs and chest get super tight during sitting, the doorway stretch will help loosen it up.
How to do it.
– Position your elbows and hands in line with a doorframe.
– Step through the door slowly, until you feel a stretch.
– Hold this end position for 15 to 20 seconds before returning to the starting position.
– Repeat this stretch 3 times.Wall slides
This exercise strengthens the low trapezius muscles and serratus anterior AS WELL AS opens up the shoulders and chest..
How to do it.
– Stand with your back to the wall and try to keep your upper back and buttocks in contact with the wall and walk your feet out about 12 inches from the wall.
– Bend your elbows to 90 degrees, so that your hands are pointing towards your head, and try to press your forearms against the wall (this may be an uncomfortable position when you first start performing this exercise, don’t give up!).
– Slowly slide your arms up towards your head and then back down the wall by squeezing your shoulder blades together.
– Begin with 1 set of 10 repetitions and work your way up to 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Chiropractors and physical therapists may lead a person through a few tests to see if they have rounded shoulders, as well as providing more specialized care.
It is always advisable to work directly with a knowledgeable practitioner to treat rounded shoulders and any arising conditions due to posture.
Joy W Waihenya,
Chiropractic & Physiotherapy Health Centre