You may think that standing or sitting are just everyday things that don’t require much of your attention. But before you know it, your back begins to ache, your neck feels strained, and your shoulders feel tense; we know these all too well. Luckily, there are posture stretches and correction exercises as well as massage methods to improve posture and ease aches and pains!
What is Body Posture?
Posture is the position we hold our bodies in as we stand, sit, or lie down. Good posture teaches your body to use the dominant muscles and ligaments during these activities while placing the least amount of strain on the supporting muscle groups. Practicing good posture maintains correct bone, joint, and spinal alignment, prevents fatigue and muscle pains, and decreases the wear and tear of joints.
Bad posture, on the other hand, trains your body to strain certain muscle groups more than others, resulting in the misalignment of muscles and bones. Before we get into the health problems that can arise from having poor posture, let’s take a quick look at some of the factors that may be the culprit of your aching back, stiff neck, or tense shoulders.
What Causes Bad Posture?
Bad posture isn’t always a sign of laziness. In fact, there are a number of things that can lead to poor posture and the health implications that accompany it, such as genetics, injuries, and stress. Below are some of the most common behavioral posture mistakes:
- Hunching while looking at a screen
- Slouching in a chair
- Sitting in chairs that are too high or too low / with poor back support
- Standing with a flat back
- Leaning on one leg while standing
Can Bad Posture Cause Health Problems?
Unfortunately, yes; this is why it’s important to practice good posture because the smallest change can make the biggest difference in the long run! Below is a list of some common health problems that derive from bad posture:
- When you slouch or slump while standing or sitting, your spine does too. When this happens, your vertebrae become strained and stretched beyond their limits which impacts air and blood circulation. In addition, a slouched or slumped posture can cause the vertebrae to deteriorate over time.
- Moving and maintaining your body with bad posture is physically draining for your muscles, joints, and ligaments since they are being forced into unnatural positions; likewise, they bear more stress and strain. Your body therefore requires more energy when you slouch or slump.
- Holding the wrong posture can negatively impact your bones and muscles while causing misalignment in parts of your body. In fact, 25% of people who experience back pain suffer from a herniated disc, which can be traced back to bad posture. As a result, your typical range of motion may be changed or limited.
How Can You Correct Your Posture?
There are many posture stretches and exercises and massage methods you can use to help realign parts of your body and relieve tension. Here, we’ve outlined some simple approaches that you might find useful.
How does stretching improve posture? You may notice that after a long day of slouching or slumping, your muscles and joints feel tight and stiff. Stretching overly-strained parts of your body helps to increase their range of motion, strengthen your muscles, and correct bad posture.
- Neck — To stretch the sides of your neck, lower your left ear toward your left shoulder and hold for 15-20 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side. In addition, you can try neck rotations by slowly turning your chin to one shoulder and holding for 15-20 seconds and repeating on the other side.
- Chest — To stretch your chest, stand tall with your feet shoulder-length apart. Bring your arms behind your back and interlock your fingers with your palms facing up. Keeping your arms straight, lower your shoulders and draw them backward without arching your back. Your chest and front shoulders should feel a stretch when done correctly. This stretch is especially useful if you have a hunched back.
Just as you would stretch before and after a workout to avoid injuries, remember to take breaks throughout your day and practice these stretches for better posture.
If stretching isn’t enough for you, here are three simple exercises to improve posture and ease aches and pains. Since the back is one of the most common areas of the body to be affected by poor posture, these exercises focus on that area:
- Shoulder rolls
- Take deep breaths as you stand or sit tall to help lengthen the spine. Keep your shoulders back and aligned and your head straight (not tilted up or down) as you do this.
- Flex your glute muscles when you walk; this helps to align your pelvis on the hip joint.
Can massages help with posture? Absolutely! Since parts of your body become sore and stiff when they are forced into straining positions, massages (on top of stretches and exercises) help to relax, loosen, and realign them into natural and healthier postures. In fact, stretching massage therapy comes with a range of other benefits besides improving posture:
- Relieved pressure points
- Increased range of motion
- Improved circulation
- Enhanced flexibility
However, if you’re still looking for some extra relief and don’t have the time or resources to regularly pay for massage services, you can use your own massage tool at home. The most powerful handheld personal massager is the VYBE Premium Percussion Massage Gun that has five different built-in speeds and the ability to give you 3,200 strokes per minute. With unlimited uses and long battery life, this massage gun adds on the additional benefits of improved sleep and higher energy for the body without the long-term costs of massage services; it’s the perfect tool to provide a massage for bad posture.
Stretches, Exercises, or Massages for Posture Correction?
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to fixing your posture; in fact, there are many other techniques you can use. However, one of the best ways to give your body the best therapeutic experience is to pair stretches and exercises with a massage. Regardless of what method (or combination) you choose, the important thing to remember is to do what works best for you!
Contributing Writer: Rebecca Lee