Back and neck pain are the top complaints that we get from patients. We spend so much time looking at devices, hunched over and looking down it’s not surprising our bodies are achy. being in such unnatural positions. Without consistently doing movement to counteract the hunching we find ourselves in a culture with rounded backs, neck pain, headaches and arm and hand numbness or tingling.
When a patient comes in this way, it’s pretty common to feel pain and tightness in the mid back, between the shoulder blades or that aching/burning pain in the upper shoulders. This pain is caused by weakness and trigger points in the muscles that support the spine and shoulders. The erector spinae muscles are a group of muscles that run along the spine and back and help support us in an upright position. However, when we are constantly hunched over the muscles become overstretched, weak, and our body repairs with scar tissue and active trigger points.
What people don’t normally think about is: How are the other muscles being effected? The opposite muscles, the ones on the front, are TIGHT! They have been doing all the work! This includes the Pec Major, the SCM (front of the neck), and front of the shoulder to name a few. You can work on releasing the trigger points in the back but if your not lengthening and stretching the front your results will be short lived.
Here are 5 easy steps to counteracting pain due to poor posture.
1. Mindfulness and ergonomics
Being mindful of the positions we are in is key to making lasting changes. It takes time and consistency to break a habit but checking in with yourself throughout the day and making subtle corrections is a great way to start. Try not to stay in one position for too long, add in small movements, sit tall, tuck your chin, do a little stretching while you work. Use your time to connect with your body throughout the day.
Add in chest stretches and arm circles. These simple movements can literally be done anywhere. I often stretch in the line at the grocery store, while I’m sitting at my computer or anytime I have a few seconds.
This can be self-massage or a professional. Massage helps to release the tight muscles and releasing trigger points that are causing pain. There are plenty of self-massage techniques and tools out there including the theracane, massage stones and wall self massager.
Movement does not necessarily mean a hard workout. It could be walking, yoga, pilates or even barre. Movement helps to get the blood flowing and counteract all the forward positions we are in.
Heat or Ice that’s always the question. To put it short, heat is always best when it comes to tightness and achy muscles. Using at night before you go to bed can be a great way to relax the muscles at the end of the day and easing into sleep.
Finding consistency in a routine is key to having lasting changes. Try to pick one or two things to work on instead of adding EVERYTHING and getting overwhelmed. If you have any questions or want specific help with your pain contact us. We can't wait to see to you.
-Melissa K Merritt
Board Certified Massage therapist in Sandy Springs, Georgia.