Posture is a hot topic and is often asked about in the clinic. We can all recall being told to ‘sit up straight’ and ‘mind our backs’. When someone is walking towards us, and before we can see their face, we can often guess approximately how old they are. This may be due to how they are walking or equally it may be due to their posture.
1. Posture in daily lives
Problem: A rounded shoulder posture is common and easily adopted. It is a protective posture which may have been favoured in youth when it is felt that we are growing at a different rate to our peers, or to try to hide ourselves away. Also many tasks are in front of us – driving, eating, writing, phones, computers, devices etc.
Over time, the muscles at the front of the shoulders become tighter and shorter due to overuse, subsequently the muscles connecting the shoulder blades to the spine become overstretched and lengthened. This results in the rounded shoulder posture and can then result in pain. This imbalance often continues into the neck muscles, pulling the head forward. To counteract this, the head is tilted upwards. This too commonly results in compression at the top of the cervical spine and then sometimes headaches.
Solution: Exercises to stretch the front of the shoulders, allowing the shoulder joint to sit a little further back, then strengthening the upper back muscles. In particular, stretching the pectoral, sternoclavicular and scalene muscles at the front and strengthening the rhomboids, lower trapezius and serratus anterior muscles at the back will help.
2. Posture when sitting at a computer
Problem: When sitting at a computer, there is a tendency to be there for a long time. Ideally we should get up and have a walk around every 20-30 minutes, but often this is inconvenient and unrealistic. Also, if a laptop is used, this makes the sitting posture even worse. We crouch forward into the laptop increasing a rounded posture.
Solution: I am a big advocate of the two-tiered computer desk, which was popular in the 1980s and seems to be making a comeback. They put the screen at a higher level encouraging people to sit up straight.
When sitting at a computer and staring straight ahead, the eyes should be in line with the upper third of the screen. So when the eyes relax they drop to the centre, just as if they are readjusting towards the horizon. The keyboard should be close, with more than a 90 degree angle at the elbows. If you are susceptible to tennis elbow, then a rollermouse or a vertical mouse may be helpful as they put less tension through your forearm.
Sit on the front of the sitting bones (ishial tuberositis) with the hips at more than 90 degrees. This allows the pressure through the spinal discs to be more centrally placed and the spine to adopt its natural curves. But most importantly remember to move around and not adopt one posture for long.
3. Posture when sleeping
Problem: Research from the British Chiropractic Association in 2011 identified that 38.5% of people who suffer from back pain felt it was exacerbated by a night’s sleep.
Solution: It is important to have a bed that is supportive, not too hard and not too soft. When buying a mattress, spend time lying on it, which means more than five minutes per mattress. Ask a friend, partner or spouse to check that the spine is parallel to the bed and that the hips do not sink into it or stand proud. Lying on the side, the lumbar and thoracic spine should lie in a line parallel to the bed. This rule also applies to the neck as the cervical spine should be an extension of this straight line. The pillow should support the head so that it does not drop down to the bed or be pushed upwards. Most of all, the bed should be comfortable as a lot of time will be spent in it.
Chloé has been practicing for 10 years after graduating with a first class honours degree from the Welsh Institute of Chiropractic. Chloé is a certified Cox® Technic flexion-distraction and decompression practitioner, lecturing to health professionals on its benefits for disc herniations (slipped discs), joint and nerve pain. She is registered with most Medical Insurance Companies.
The C3 Team of chiropractors, Rainer Wieser, Chloe Stamper, Lia Biancheri and Niki Douglas are fully qualified and experienced members of the General Chiropractic Council and British Chiropractic Association.
CHIROPODY / PODIATRY
Podiatry/Chiropody Team: Lynne Griffiths and Poppy Rastall are fully qualified Podiatrists/Chiropodists registered heath care professionals of the HCPC. They treat a full range of foot problems including ingrowing toenails, fungal infections and verrucas.
C3 Chiropractic Clinic