Paying attention to your posture may be more critical than ever. We spend too much time looking down at screens, and the effect on our posture is cumulative. In addition to back and neck pain, poor posture is implicated in jaw pain, breathing, depression, incontinence, and digestive issues. The “text neck” position is the same one we use when reading a book or writing on paper, but the problem has grown with the use of small screens.
As someone who suffered through ten days with a pinched nerve in my neck and three months of physical therapy, I constantly check my neck position. I do not ever want that to happen to me again.
Your head weighs about 10 to 12 pounds, but just a slight tilt forward more than doubles the amount of strain on your neck muscles. – Harvard Health Beat
University of Pennsylvania professor Beth Linker calls poor posture a “non-contagious epidemic” in her book “Slouch: The Forgotten History of America’s Poor Posture Epidemic” (coming in 2020). One hundred years ago, experts declared that poor posture caused a variety of illnesses, like tuberculosis.
Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or weight-bearing activities. – Cleveland Clinic
Poor posture’s effect on temporomandibular (TMD) disorders is a controversial subject due to conflicting results and the lack of large studies. One study showed people with TMD had greater weight distribution in the posterior part of the foot. Whether or not there is a causal relationship, good posture makes sense and maybe it will help with jaw
A small 2017 study looked at people with mild depression who, at baseline, had more slumped posture than average. A posture intervention showed significantly improved posture and less negative affect in speech.
Tips for posture improvement
Strengthening your core should be the first step in working toward good posture. The National Institute on Aging has an exercise program called Go4Life with videos available on YouTube and free print publications.
Tai chi chuan is highly recommended not only to improve posture but to help with stress, flexibility, strength, and hypertension. I wrote an article a few years ago on another site describing my visit to a tai chi class at a senior center.
Chiropractors can also help poor posture with information about how you should sit, stand, and lie as well as instructing you in exercises.
Posture biofeedback devices
There are dozens of patents for posture biofeedback devices on Google Patents. We tried a basic posture corrector which helps remind you to monitor your position. Though not a cure, the straps adjust to provide as much pull as you would like. This one, from Amazon, is similar to ours, which is not currently available. [As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.] The posture corrector is a tool to develop a new habit of holding your head up properly and keeping your back and shoulders in alignment but it is just a part of the process. Strength and flexibility exercises are essential to lowering the risk of back and neck pain.