If you’ve been experiencing discomfort due to poor posture recently, you’re not alone. With the rise in remote working in the past year, more and more people are finding themselves hunched over their computer screens and other devices in a poorly designed work space.
Over time, this poor posture can lead to back pain, neck pain, and other complications that can be challenging to treat. As a pain expert with clinics in West Islip, Islandia, and Smithtown, New York, Eric K. Fanaee, MD, is a big believer in the importance of a healthy posture when it comes to pain management.
Luckily, it’s never too late to correct your posture. Even a few small changes can make a huge difference.
What causes poor posture?
Many postural problems are caused by strain and stress in everyday life. Although the human body is designed for daily activities such as walking and standing, modern-day lifestyles have presented new challenges.
Many office workers spend the majority of their day sitting down, while manual laborers may suffer repetitive motion injuries or back strain from heavy lifting. Additionally, habits such as craning your neck to look at a phone and slouching while watching TV contribute to poor posture outside of the workplace.
How can you improve your posture
You can do a number of things to improve your posture — and therefore reduce pain.
Avoid unsupported positions
Your spine is perfectly designed to support the full weight of your body thanks to its interlocking vertebrae, natural curvature, and cushioning discs. However, certain positions can lead to the weight of your body being distributed inefficiently, causing excess strain on muscles and joints in your back.
That’s why we encourage our patients to avoid positions that place unnecessary pressure on your spine, including:
- Slouching while walking
- Lying on your stomach while reading a book or working
- Hunching forward during household chores
- Lifting heavy objects using your back rather than your knees
While some of these habits may seem difficult to change, taking regular breaks and practicing strengthening exercises can help put you on the path to better posture.
Whether your work involves sitting in an office chair or standing frequently, it’s important to take breaks that allow you to perform different types of movement. One of the best ways to incorporate activity into your daily routine is to stretch throughout the day or to go for a quick walk during breaks from sitting at your desk.
You can do these simple stretches to give your muscles a break:
- Gently turn your head from side to side to release tension in your neck
- Clasp your hands behind your back, and gently raise your arms to stretch out your chest
- Grab your left wrist with your right hand, and gently pull your left arm across your chest, then repeat with your other arm
By taking breaks and incorporating stretches into your routine, you can improve your posture and reduce your risk of developing back pain.
At first, correcting your posture might feel uncomfortable because poor posture can lead to weakened muscle groups. Exercises can help strengthen these muscle groups so they can fully support your body in good postural positions.
Simple strengthening exercises you can do include:
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together for five seconds, then relax
- Bend your elbows and move your arms back and forth like you’re rowing
- Perform planks or abdominal crunches to strengthen your core
With enough practice, you can develop better body awareness and will be able to correct yourself when you notice yourself slouching at a desk or hunching forward during chores.
Good posture helps prevent or reduce back and neck pain, but if you’re already experiencing chronic pain, book an appointment with Dr. Fanaee to learn what treatment options are available to you.