Do you sit a computer all day? Do you drive more than 30 minutes per day? Do you find yourself slouching when you are sitting?
If you answered yes to any of these questions you may find you have chronic lower back pain and/or shoulder pain. Why I hear you ask?
Well, when we sit for extended periods of time with bad posture, we tend to put ourselves into what’s called a neuromuscular holding pattern. That’s a fancy term for our muscles getting locked into a bad position.
One of the most common neuromuscular holding patterns we find ourselves in based on our daily sitting habits is kyphosis and forward head posture which is known as upper cross syndrome. This posture can create all sorts of havoc on the rest of the body especially when it comes to training and lifting weights.
What does this mean for me?
When we are suffering from upper cross syndrome we are putting ourselves at risk for injury because the body will always become good at what it needs to become good at. As you see in the picture above the neck is protruding forward and the shoulders are rounded forward. This forces muscles in the chest and neck area to become short and tight and the muscles in the upper back and throat area to become long and weak. If we become good at sitting in a less than optimal posture, when we try to move into certain positions and perform certain movements mobility is lost. When our movement is restricted in one area of the body (mobility), another area of the body will compensate to allow that movement to occur. For example, if we are kyphotic and try to push a barbell overhead, mobility in the shoulder is restricted and therefore limited which means the lower back will compensate by leaning back and creating an increased risk of injury.
How can I fix my posture?
My #1 rule of thumb when it comes to anything you want to change or fix in life goes like this. If you are not actively doing something about the issue you are having you are not allowed to complain. (I know some people will take that and bastardize to fit their agenda, but you get the picture). I think that’s reasonable, don’t you? Glad we can agree. So, if you find you are having this issue as shown in the picture or you feel you have tight traps and shoulders there are some things to be mindful of while training. My #2 rule of thumb of mine as it relates to exercise is, when performing a movement, we want to be as inefficient as possible. Sounds counter intuitive right? The #1 issue I see when it comes to doing pushups and rows is “reaching”. This is a subconscious movement that is typically done to give the illusion of range of motion by reaching with the neck. By inefficient I mean, we want to use as many muscles as possible to help us with the lift. For example, if you deadlift a barbell using as little amount of muscles possible you’re going to hurt yourself, probably your lower back. The same goes when performing a row or a push up. If we reach with the neck and already have upper cross syndrome going on, we are being efficient (not good) in our movement and perpetuating the postural deformity.
With all of that said here are 3 simple exercises you can do to help fix the less than optimal posture and begin to relieve your pain:
Exercise #1: Postural Alignment
Exercise #2: Thoracic Roll
Exercise #3: TYI
If you need any help or have any questions please feel free to contact us.
We hope this helps you on your fitness journey.