Have you been working from home for the past year and a half, and you feel your body suffering for it?
You get out of bed and the commute to your desk is less than a minute.
It may or may not involve one flight of stairs.
You get more exercise in the shower than you do for the rest of the day.
So it’s no surprise that you’re starting to get sore.
But did you know that the reason you have a bad back could also be down to poor posture?
This is something you can correct, even if you’re working from home.
Many of the ailments we suffer from as we age can be avoided if we maintain healthy muscles.
If you are someone who suffers from poor posture, it’s worth getting help by booking an ergonomic physical therapy consultant.
You may not even be aware of some of the issues that you can solve with a little work once you know how.
Let’s examine the negative impact poor posture has on you and how to fix it.
What Is Posture?
Posture describes the position of your body when you are standing, sitting, or lying down.
Good posture is something that can take time and a bit of work to achieve.
But the work is worth it, because poor posture affects your quality of life, physically and mentally.
Why Is Posture Important?
Your body is designed effectively to balance the weight that you carry around with you all day.
Whether walking, running, or sitting at a desk, an aligned posture helps maintain a healthy body, both physically and emotionally.
Posture affects the way others view you, too.
Poor posture, for example, may signify to people that you are lazy, discouraged, or unhealthy, even when this is not the case.
Poor posture results in weak muscles that create uneven pressure on your spine, which can lead to all sorts of ailments.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways poor posture can affect you.
1. Poor Posture Causes Back Pain
Back pain is one of the most common side effects of poor posture.
When your shoulders slouch forward, this puts undue pressure on the spine.
If you notice pressure between your shoulder blades, or find that the base of your tailbone is sore after a day at your desk, then you are probably not sitting up straight.
Prolonged poor posture can result in you needing physical therapy for spinal issues as well as physical therapy for chronic pain.
2. Poor Posture Causes Headaches
Hunching forward makes your head tilt downwards, which puts pressure on your posterior muscles.
This creates tight neck muscles -the most common cause of tension headaches.
Sometimes, adjusting the height of your monitor can help to ease the tension.
But your best option is physical therapy exercises for chronic headaches to stretch out and strengthen the muscles so that neck tension is no longer an issue.
3. Poor Posture Interrupts Your Sleep
Do you toss and turn in your bed at night, trying to get comfortable?
Or maybe you wake up in the middle of the night with muscle aches or nerve pain.
Poor posture causes muscle tension and prevents your body from relaxing when it needs to the most.
And sleep is one of the body’s most important activities for a long, healthy life.
If you’re struggling to sleep due to poor posture, we can help.
4. Poor Posture Can Disrupt Your Digestion
If you suffer from digestive upset, did you ever consider that your posture could be to blame?
When you sit all day at your desk with poor posture, you compress your organs.
Your digestion slows and you may find yourself with stomach issues.
Who knew all of this could come from not sitting up straight?
Physical Therapy Exercises For Improving Your Posture
If you feel uncomfortable throughout the day or at night, poor posture could be the culprit.
Here are a few simple exercises that you can perform at home to relieve the tension in your muscles.
1. Hip Flexor Stretch
Frequent long periods of sitting (at your desk, for example) cause the hip flexors to tighten.
The result is back pain, leg pain, or hip pain.
Try kneeling on one leg, with the other leg forward, knee bent, and your front foot flat on the floor.
Tighten your glutes (your butt muscles) and bring your hip forward.
Keep your back straight and lean forward until you feel a pull down the front of your kneeling leg.
Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds, and then switch sides.
2. Chest Muscle Stretch
To prevent slouching, which causes back pain, stretch out your chest muscles regularly.
Standing in a doorway, raise your arms at a 90 degree angle and press them against the wall inside the doorframe.
Lean forward to feel a comfortable stretch in the front of your chest.
Don’t tense the muscle, relax and breathe into the stretch.
You can also do this against a wall, holding one arm up at a time up with your palm flat and your elbow at 90 degrees.
Turn away from your arm and feel the stretch.
Hold each side for at least 30 seconds, then repeat twice.
3. Neck Stretch
Sitting at your computer all day causes tightness in the upper back and neck, which may be the reason you have headaches.
To gently stretch your neck and release tension, turn your head to one side to look at your shoulder.
Use the arm of the same side that you are looking towards and place your hand on the back of your head.
Pull forwards lightly until you feel a slight stretch.
You should never force the stretch, and always stop if something feels uncomfortable.
Hold the stretch for at least at least 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.
4. Forearm And Wrist Stretch
Avoid issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome by stretching out your wrists and forearms if they get tight.
Extend one arm straight out in front of you with your wrist bent down.
Using the other arm, press the hand of the straight arm downwards until you feel a stretch along the top of your forearm.
Hold this for at least 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Next, repeat this exercise with your wrist bent up towards the ceiling.
This time you should feel a stretch along the bottom of your forearm.
5. Cat Cow Stretch
One final exercise used by physical therapists to relieve back pain and encourage better posture is the cat cow stretch.
This yoga posture opens up the joints in the spine and relieves tension throughout the back.
If you are experiencing back pain as you sit at your desk, try this exercise at home.
Position yourself on your hands and knees with your wrists and shoulders aligned and knees square below the hips.
Let your stomach drop, arching your back towards the floor as you send your head upwards to look at the ceiling.
This is the cow position.
Hold this position for one second, and then bend the opposite way, arching your back upwards and gazing towards your hands.
This is the cat position.
Alternate between the two postures 15 times, stopping at the end of each pose for the count of one second.
This should give your back some relief so that you can get back to work.
Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today
Do not perform any of these exercises if you experience any discomfort when in the positions.
For a plan more tailored to your specific issues, why not book a consultation with a physical therapist.
Your practitioner will determine whether the pain you’re experiencing stems from a problem with your posture.
They will teach you corrective exercises that target the issues affecting you.
They will work with you to assess the ergonomics of your workspace.
Don’t let the pain get worse.
Book your appointment with Capitol Physical therapy today.
We can help you work from home in comfort.
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005
9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC