General neck and shoulder pain is one of the most common complaints I see in the clinic.
A significant percentage of this neck pain is related to poor posture.
The type of posture I'm specifically talking about is the 'hunched over the computer' type posture we all have a tendency to fall into.
The upper body is hunched, the shoulders are rounded and the head is forward (see the 'evolution of man' picture below).
Unfortunately we ALL spend far to much time in postures similar to this.
We are most at risk of this type of postural pain when we are driving, working at our desk and sitting on the sofa reading.
With many people this type of posture has become habitual.
It can become 'difficult' or 'hard work' to sit with correct posture.
This is because the body has adapted over time; poor posture has become the 'default' option for the body.
Poor posture has now become the 'easy' option to adopt.
The problem with this type of posture is that over time it causes huge imbalances in the muscular tissue around the neck and shoulders.
The chest muscles become tight and shorted, the muscles between the shoulder blades become weak and lengthen.
The knock on effect of these changes can lead to several problems.
These problems can range from the build up of trigger points in the muscles, nerve compression around the neck and shoulder, altered respiration, impinged blood supply as well as extra stress on the discs and joints in the neck.
The list of potential problems goes on and on.
The good news is that in many cases pain around the neck and shoulders can be resolved
successfully by simply focusing on improving your posture.
There are a number of practical steps that can be taken to gain some balance back in the shoulders and neck.
As a start I have included a sheet below of exercises specifically selected to reduce pain and improve posture in the upper body.
There are 4 exercises on the sheet, which includes both stretching and strengthening exercises.
These exercise are great if you have general neck and shoulder stiffness, if you have acute pain
they may not be suitable for you.
The complete exercise plan should take no longer than 15 minutes in total and should be performed every day (ideally in the evening).
Please print a copy off and put it up somewhere in your office or home where it will remind you to perform them daily.
Warning: DO NOT complete these exercises if your pain is high (or very acute).
Click here for a printable pdf sheet with 4 simple exercises that you can perform daily to improve your posture and reduce your neck and shoulder pain.
NB. This is a general program, more specific exercises and treatment methods may need to be used for differing issues however this is a good starting place for most postural based problems.
As always if you have any questions about your neck and shoulder pain or more specific questions about the exercise plan please do email.
(Evolution of man poster - are we going backwards?)