Driving, working on the computer, staring at your cell phone screen. It feels like now more than ever, so many common daily activities all have our bodies hunching over in the same position.
This kind of bad posture can cause back and neck pain, it can negatively affect your digestion and circulation, as well as affect your self esteem. A study from researchers at Columbia and Harvard Universities showed when people stand in so-called “power positions,” basically standing up straight, they felt more powerful and in control.
Retraining bad posture can be challenging, but there are a variety of things that can help, and getting massages is one of the most effective ways to open up certain muscle groups to make it easier to stand and sit in healthier positions.
Massage brings more circulation to the muscles supporting the spine. It also relaxes and lengthens the muscles of the back, neck and shoulders, which reduces pressure on nerves that may have been impacted by long-term postural habits. This misalignment can cause sensitivity in your nerves, which leads to the pain that often goes along with bad posture.
The shoulders and head rounding forward are common expressions of bad posture. Releasing tension in the neck and shoulders as well as opening and expanding the pectoral muscles across the front of the chest is an important part of changing these patterns. Regular massage is one of the most effective ways to achieve this.
If you want to supplement your massages with other healthy practices, here are some areas of the body to target and ways to help you do so.
As you know, a lot of bad posture comes from tightness and tension in the back and shoulders. You can get a lacrosse ball or other small exercise ball and roll those knots out yourself. Lying on the ball and rolling over tense areas can offer some of the relief that a massage would.
To open up the pectoral muscles, you can roll a small blanket up and lay on top of it so that it rests just under your shoulder blades. Lying on the blanket, you should feel like you can arc your upper spine over the blanket, with your head resting on the floor, encouraging more opening in your chest. Lifting one or both of your arms overhead in this position can help you access more specific areas according to your individual needs.
Additionally, building up your core muscles is a great way to develop healthy posture. Having a strong core supports your spine from the front of your body, decreasing the tendency to slouch into the low back or hunch forward over your electronics.
It’s always helpful, if not vital, to give yourself regular breaks from your electronic activities. Every now and then, stand up and stretch your arms overhead, take some deep breaths, even take a brief walk around your work area.
Creating space in your upper body – whether through massage, exercises at home, or both, will bring better posture into your life, allowing you to feel more confident and most importantly, to help improve your posture and alleviate back and neck pain as well.