Posture and Spine Health

We all know that posture is important. It sets the tone for our interactions with others, it impacts the health of our spine and our neck, and having ‘good’ posture has even been linked to having higher levels of self confidence. So what does ‘good’ posture actually look like, and how does it play into our neck health? We discuss this topic in depth during our podcast episode on posture, but in general you should strive for a resting posture that looks like this: your ear over shoulder, shoulder over hip, hip over knee, knee over ankle. In today’s modern society we have become increasingly sedentary, and use of computers and phones are driving our head and shoulders forward. In our clinic, we see three main posture presentations. Below is a breakdown of each presentation and things to keep in mind for all of them.

Increased Curvature of Thoracic Spine

– Presents as a forward rounded mid back, with shoulders rounding forward

– Extreme cases of this are typically more common in elderly populations

– Can also be associated with lots of driving, reading, or computer time

– What To Do:

– Improve strength in the deep neck flexors

– Try stretches that target the levator scapulae and the sternocleidomastoid (SCM)

Flat Thoracic Spine

– Presents as a flat, washboard appearance between shoulder blades

– May present as protruding shoulder blades (shoulders have a ‘chicken wing’ appearance)

– Back and core muscles are typically underdeveloped in this presentation

– What To Do:

– Improve spine rotation and focus on stretching the lat muscles

– Don’t try to force your shoulders back to overcorrect for the flatness, stay loose and neutral

Neutral Spine

– This posture presents as neutral, but when we see this in the clinic we always check for general tension

– Evaluate for discomfort when raising arms or twisting the neck and spine

– Tends to present in people with more developed muscles

– What To Do:

– Incorporate regular pec stretches

– Perform regular gentle rotational stretches of the mid back throughout the day

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