Let’s begin with the surprising benefits of good posture. Maintaining good posture can improve your appearance, improve mental clarity, enhance your breathing and internal organ health, reduce physical wear, and tear and ultimately renew your self-esteem. Massage therapy, stretching, & physical therapy aids in better posture over time. With the help of physical therapy, massage, and mindfulness, your posture can build towards feel natural and upright on its own.
Causes of Bad Posture
Many of us with full or part time jobs may sit down for long periods of time in front of a computer or at a desk. Sitting down for these extended periods may increase the risk of poor posture due to poor form in sitting habits, lack of stretching, and the muscles falling out of their natural alignment.
A common factor of poor posture are weak back and shoulder muscles. The muscles allocated with posture include the lats, shoulders and pelvis. When these muscles are weak, they are not being used, or stretched properly.
Always consult with a licensed physical therapist or certified private trainer or athletic coach for stretch and exercise concerns especially if you are in pain.
Massage Therapy CAN Help your Posture
Getting the hard, tight muscles to soften and relax contributes to improved posture. When the muscular load of tension becomes acute, the bones compensate and pull the body out of a civilized position. Basically, the muscles forget how to relax and become rigid. Massage therapy helps to ease that burden.
Try the Mindful “Balloon Method”
Eastside Massage Director & Medical Massage Therapist, Robin Ehrlich suggests the balloon method for a quick fix in posture. Wherever you may be, act as if your chest is blowing a balloon outwards from the body, allowing your chest to open up and your shoulders to relax into place. Practice mindfully at your desk to improve posture in seconds. As you inhale, feel the lift up and out of a slumped posture. Your back muscles will relax as you exhale. Feel your shoulders settle backward as your chest gently lifts.
“Visualize a helium balloon attached to your sternum (chest bone) and it lifts you up gently. Over time this can shift your awareness and prevent you from poor posture.” Robin shares this imagery for an active practice of body awareness and proper spinal alignment.
Massage Therapist Approved Techniques
Using a foam roller, lay down with it in between your shoulder blades and roll up and down. This will open the chest and massage the shoulder blades and lats. Relax into areas that need a stretch and breath deeply. A great and reasonable investment. Amazon has quite a selection. You can put a pillow under your head if you have a neck issue and breathe!
Gently move your head and bring your chin toward your chest, as though you're nodding slowly. This movement can improve neck strength and flexibility over time so it's easier to rest and move without pain.
“Core exercises are vital”, states Robin Ehrlich, they help your 3-dimensional girdle, your abdominal and back muscles for good stabilization of your posture.
Lie on your stomach with your arms (overhead) and legs fully extended while keeping your head relaxed and spine neutral by looking at the floor in front of you instead of up. Contract your core muscles to stabilize your spine, while simultaneously raising both your legs and arms a few inches off the ground, keeping your head and neck neutral. Hold at top for 3–5 seconds. Gently lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat.
Make it a Habit
Make the investment of time for your postural improvement even if it's only 10-15 minutes a day. Download an exercise app, go for PT if necessary to work against chronic slouching and forward head position, aka known as text neck. Practice stretches daily otherwise muscles and disks can become inflamed causing headaches and chronic back pain.
Robin recommends a reasonably priced program through Harvard called “Welcome to core exercises”. She says, "For $30 it's very reasonable. If you prefer a private trainer go for it, but why not save the money and practice at your own pace." Check it out at https://www.harvardhealthonlinelearning.com/
A Word from Dr. Mathew Spiegel
Dr. Spiegel is a double board-certified physician in anesthesiology and interventional pain management.
“If you're struggling with pain due to poor posture, and haven't found relief through conservative measures, such as massage or physical therapy, consider alternative treatments like trigger point injections and even Botox. Bad posture, often a byproduct of modern lifestyles, can lead to painful muscle knots or trigger points. Trigger point injections, which involve administering a local anesthetic and sometimes a corticosteroid directly into these knots, may offer immediate pain relief and restore mobility.” - https://uespain.com