Where's Your Nugget At? To the Front or the Back?
Another callback to pre-21st century pop culture likely betrays my age, but it’s a catchy tune. Hopefully today’s KINETICOACH blog gets stuck in your head too. Maintaining correct neck, head, and shoulder positioning throughout the day can reduce the risk of back, shoulder, neck, and jaw (yes, jaw) pain.
We won’t delve into physiology and anatomy, but a basic overview (with pretty pictures) will turn up the volume of our catchy blog title, and help you make improvements to your shoulder and neck health
DEFINING HEALTHY HEAD, NECK, AND SHOULDER POSITION
We’ll define correct head, neck, and shoulder positioning as aligning the ears, the outside tip of the shoulder, and the hips.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT
There’s a cascading effect of forward-positioning of the head, neck, and shoulders. The more forward your head is positioned, the more your neck pivots forward, and the more your shoulders round. This causes impingement in the shoulders and shear on the neck that can lead to shoulder pain and injury, neck pain and injury, nerve damage, and misalignment of the jaw contributing to TMJ (clicking of the jaw).
WHAT TO DO
1) The first step to correcting upper-body posture is awareness. Key times to increase your awareness are:
- When looking at your phone –Hold phone at eye level with shoulders aligned with ears, instead of tilting neck forward and hunching over. Consider getting an attachment to your phone to help hold the phone near eye level.
- At your desk/computer – Whether seated or standing, ensure monitor is at eye-level, and keyboard is close to the body to prevent shoulder rounding. If you sit, consider getting a saddle chair to help with posture (these really work!)
2) Strike a pose
- Find a comfortable and moderately socially acceptable hand position that allows healthy head/neck/shoulder alignment in every-day situations. I’ve found that inter-lacing my fingers and placing them near my belly helps keep my shoulders back.
- Another option is placing your hands high in your front or back pockets (or near where they would be if you had pockets). Crossing arms or putting hands deep in your pockets tends to round the shoulders.
- When standing or sitting, point your toes forward
- When standing, squeeze your butt and belly slightly to help align your shoulders and hips
3) Stretching and Mobility - Do these stretches regularly, along with being aware of your posture, to reduce pain and regain healthy posture
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