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The Importance of Taking a Stretch Break

Many of us spend a good part of our days sitting at a desk, or doing the same activity for hours on end and perhaps without proper ergonomics. Most of us have laptops and smartphones, both of which cause us to slouch more and lend to poor posture.

It seems that now more than ever I see people in my practice suffering from the negative effects of postural strain, as we become victims of modern society. Most of the people that I see in my office have issues with posture, and this usually manifests most in the upper back and neck. The typical person sits at a desk or in front of a laptop, our heads usually gravitate forward and we tend to slouch in our mid backs. These people look like they are hunched forward with rounded shoulders and a protruding head position. (Sound familiar?) This is the typical picture of a type of postural strain called Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS), commonly called, "text neck".

What is Upper Crossed Syndrome?

Picture a person in this slouched posture. Their head protruding forward puts a lot of strain on the muscles of the back and neck. The rolled shoulder causes the pectoral (or chest) muscles to adaptively become shortened and tight. Our brain works in a way that whenever there is a tight muscle, there is usually opposing weak muscles. In this case, we are talking about weak neck muscles in the front and weak upper back muscles (between the shoulder blades). Now, if you draw an imaginary line from the back of the neck to the chest, and another line from the front of the neck to the mid-back, you have a big X (or cross) hence Upper Crossed Syndrome.

What can we do about this problem?

The most logical thing to do is to not slouch. This is easier said than done, but with perseverance, positive changes will occur. The more that you are aware of a problem, the more you remind yourself and before you know it, it becomes second nature to correct it.

The next thing to do is to try to reverse some of the changes that have resulted from prolonged bad posture. This involves certain stretches and exercises. In a nutshell, we should stretch the muscles that are too tight, and strengthen the muscles that are weak; again a common-sense approach that will yield good results over time, if we are diligent.

What is the downside of not dealing with this problem? Well over time, these postural changes may result in some irreversible damages such as degenerative arthritis. Obviously, it is better to prevent this from happening before it becomes too late.

I find it helpful to not only show my patients how to do these exercises but also giving them diagrams to take home is very important. If you have poor posture and would like to make a positive change, please feel free to call us for an appointment, 519-258-8544


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