Posture, Back Pain and Sport
Updated: Jan 5, 2021
You may have noticed that different people have different postures. The body is very good at adapting to your daily activities and how you move. Sometimes it tries to adapt too much and ends up not working as efficiently as it could. One example of this is the fact that using a phone or computer is common these days, so your arms are forwards to type and your head looks down towards the screen for more time during the day.
This can put more pressure on the muscles at the back of your neck and shoulders as they are trying to counterbalance the weight of your head and arms. Sometimes these helpful muscles get tired, tight or sore from all that work.
Eventually the muscles and the spine can then start to change from their natural position to one where your shoulders round forwards and your neck and back round forwards at the top all the time, and this can lead to longer term niggles and soreness. This means the muscles at the back of the neck and shouldesr have to work harder to hold the weight of your head and those at the front of your shoulders get shorter and tighter.
This new posture isn’t always helpful for other things you do in your life like sport, walking and sleeping and can have knock on effects on how your body can move day to day.
Spending time sitting down can also have a similar efect on the muscles around the pelvis and hips; the muscles at the front tighten whilst those at the back (the all important glutes in your bum) get weaker and less engaged. As running and may other sports rely on how much you can enagage the muscles in your glutes and upper back to drive your legs and arms backwards this poses a challenge.
Generally the ideal posture, when you are standing, is a straight line running through;
the centre of your ear
the centre of your shoulder
the bone on the outer side of your hip
the centre of your knee
the centre of your ankle joint
This way your body is stacked nicely so that it uses your skeleton for support, as it was designed, without the muscles having to do more work than they’d like to hold you in a different position.
So what can you do?
Stretching out the muscles at the front of your hips and shoulders is a great place to start;
- backwards shoulder rolls
- one hand on a wall level with your head and turning your body away from the arm to stretch into the front of the arm pit area
- the heel up into the bum stretch for the front of your thigh
- hip flexor stretch in a lunge position with the tail bone tucked under so you feel the stretch over the front of the hip
There are also postural cues you can think about when you stand, walk and run, start working on these whilst standing and then progress to walking and then running!
- tucking the chin and head back
- pulling the shoulder blades down and together behind you a little
- tucking under the tail bone a little to engage the lower stomach muscles
- drawing the bottom of the rib cage down at the front so it doesn't flare out
- standing with a slight bend in your knees and weight even between the balls and heels of your feet
It can be hard to objectively assess your own posture, so booking in with a sports massage therapist can be a good first step to see what postural habits your body has developed and what you might be able to do to improve your posture. Massage, as well as exercises and stretches you can do yourself, all work together well to improve posture and reduce the niggles and soreness in your body.
By having a body that’s working efficiently and as it was designed you may also find your performance in sport improves too!
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