With the school year back in session, now is a great time to review some pitfalls to avoid and some good routines to practice. Many of us have a lot more on our plate now with the start of school. Whether we have children of our own, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbors, or are in school ourselves, our day to day routine can look very different today than it did just a month ago. One of the main areas that we can all focus on is our posture.
With lots of time spent at a desk, in front of a computer, or just living life in today’s day and age, our posture can be a source of core strength or a source of pain and weakness. I can still hear my grade school teachers telling me, “stop slouching!” However, how often did I listen? I’m sure you can relate. But why does posture matter anyway? Posture matters because like the old song goes, “the arm bone’s connected to the…” That is, having good posture can affect your hand because there truly is a connection from you neck to your hand! Our entire upper extremity is innervated by nerve roots emanating from C5-T1 (C-cervical, T-thoracic). So, if we have a posture of a forward head and rounded shoulders, then undue pressure is applied to the nerves in our arm by overstretching the nerve roots in our neck. Also, we have a complicated structure known as the brachial plexus located just under our collar bone area in the shoulder.
The brachial plexus is where the nerve roots from C5-T1 come together and form all the nerves that innervate our shoulder, arm, wrist, and hand. With poor posture, the muscles that are located on top of the brachial plexus can also put undue pressure on the nerves of the brachial plexus and lead to many different issues causing pain or decreased function in any part of our upper extremity. On the flip side, good posture can not only prevent these issues, but can help strengthen our core muscles and lead to overall better health in many different ways. So, what can you do to help support good posture and avoid bad posture?
1. Sit up straight and don’t slouch! – Yes, that’s right, my grade school teacher’s advice is spot on. When sitting down, try and sit with a straight back where your shoulders are over or on top of your hips versus in front or behind your hips.
2. Take breaks – Staying in one position for an extended period of time can lead to fatigue and we can tend to become lazy in our posture when this happens.
3. Use lumbar support – Most vehicles today have lumbar support. Using the lumbar support can help promote a better posture versus the laid-back posturing of some cool drivers on the road today.
4. Stretch – Tight muscles can lead to compensatory positions and movements. Keeping your shoulders, lower back, and hamstrings loose can help improve your posture.
5. Seek professional assistance – If you have pain, tingling, or numbness that won’t go away, then it’s time to seek medical intervention. Perhaps, you need some medical assistance from the guys at Ascend Hand Therapy… just saying.
So, as new daily routines are starting with the commencement of the school year, now is a great time to make an effort to incorporate good posture routines. We can all implement some of these routines in our daily life. How are you going to improve or maintain good posture in your everyday routine?