Are you carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders?
It’s so exhausting. If you’re like many people sometimes you don’t even know you’re stressed until you feel how tense you are. Maybe you try to get a break from the pain by using heat packs, begging your kids to rub your shoulders and getting monthly massages…but the relief is very temporary.
There are a few likely reasons you’re suffering with so much pain and tension:
spinal misalignment, poor posture and stress overload.
What is spinal misalignment?
The bones of your spine (vertebrae) are designed to stack and move in very specific ways. Your neck and upper back have the extra tough job of holding up the weight of your head. These days most people’s lifestyle puts more strain on these areas than they can handle. When this happens, the spine can no longer function properly… the integrity of the spine is damaged, joints misalign, nerves become irritated and muscles seize in an effort to stabilize and protect the area.
Once this has happened all the stretching and heat in the world will only provide temporary relief. The spine must be restored to its proper range of motion and alignment in order for the area to relax and the pain to subside.
How does poor posture cause this pain?
It’s no secret that we’re hunched over these days. Phones, ipads, desks, puzzles, driving, cooking…the list goes on and on. Even when we’re on the couch, playing on our computers or watching Netflix we tend to have our heads hanging forward. This position puts a TON of stress on the neck and upper back. In fact, every inch your head is forward from its natural position adds another 10 lbs of stress on the neck, shoulders, and spine.
As I mentioned above, your spine is designed to stack up (like a game of jenga), creating structure and stability. But…forward head posture makes that impossible, and over time more and more people are holding their heads in this anterior head position even when they’re not in front of a screen.
It’s estimated that at least 80% of people are developing serious posture issues that will become permanent if they aren’t addressed. We’re designed to move, and we’re sitting and slouching way too much. Our bodies can’t keep up with the stress we’re putting on them. Pain and tension are their way of letting us know we have to make some changes.
How does stress pay a role?
Think about something that makes you happy…do you notice how you want to sit upright? Now think about the co-worker who drives you crazy and all the work you have to get done before your deadline. Did you notice how you tend to slump?
We’re used to seeing this in our animals. Dogs tuck their tails when they’re stressed and stretch themselves out when they’re happy. The same thing is happening in our bodies, we’re just not often conscious of it. What’s interesting is that research tells us that emotions and posture have a reciprocal chicken/egg relationship.
Your body posture affects your mood.
Your mood affects your body posture.
If you want to change the way your feel change your body position.
Want to feel depressed? Drop your shoulders and look down (Doesn’t this sound like the position most of us sit in all day?)
The good news is that if you change the way you’re sitting, you’ll feel less stressed and your shoulders won’t be as tense! You can change your tension level simply by changing your posture.
What are the takeaways?
- Have a chiropractor check your spine to correct any underlying issues that have built up.
- Check in on your position at your desk frequently. The length of time you’re stuck in a poor position matters a great deal. Studies tell us that a one hour episode of poor posture is far worse for us than 2 half hour time periods. Use this video to reset: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh1xF7GG37E
- Implement a daily stretching routine such as this one at your desk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnyI1KRzhQM/
- Make time during the day to take breaks to decompress, go for a walk and breathe deeply. When you sit with proper posture your brain gets 30% more oxygen!
We know you have a ton to do and it doesn’t seem like you can afford the time to commit to the list above. But imagine your days free of neck and shoulder tension…not only will you feel better, you’ll be far more productive and creative, think clearer and feel lighter.