BBPT Health Tip: How to Adjust your Posture to Avoid Shoulder and Neck Pain

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Tina Cardenia PT, DPT

In today’s society, most of us spend time in front of the computer or other electronics for work, school, or pleasure, which contributes to poor postural habits including rounded shoulders and forward head postures. Being in these positions will cause your muscles around your shoulder and neck to accommodate into that rounded position, resulting in inefficient lengthening of some muscles and shortening of other muscles, which results in an imbalance of strength and stability and high potential for injury. Having rounded and inefficient shoulder stability can cause neck and shoulder pain, and can affect your breathing.

The experienced physical therapists have extensive training on evaluating and correcting postural alignment. They can help with posture by identifying where your limitations are and evaluating your flexibility and specific muscle weaknesses that could be contributing to poor postural alignment. They also investigate what may be causing postural malalignments by evaluating your postural strategies in sitting, standing, walking, sports, and functional activities. Focusing on ways to be in a more balanced position will help put less stress and tension through your musculature and joints allowing for increased ease in maintaining proper posture with various movements.

A good way to facilitate a more neutral shoulder blade and shoulder position is with the exercise “Pivot Prone” (Institute of Physical Art, Johnson and Johnson). To start, first turn your head to the right and then to the left. Notice the excursion of movement and if you find it to be difficult or limited. Now, shrug your shoulders up a few inches, rotate your arms back enough where your pinkies are pointing forward and your shoulder blades coming together. Once you feel that your shoulder blades are back relax your shoulder blades straight down. Now rotate your head again to the right and left and notice if there was a change. You should feel an increase in ease of movement and more range of motion. At this point you should be able to appreciate that when you are in a more neutral alignment there is less stress and tension around your shoulders and neck. A common mistake with this exercise is to want to lift your rib cage up when you bring your shoulder blades back, so make sure that the shoulder blades are the only things moving during this exercise in order to maintain a good vertical alignment.

This photo shows the pivot prone maneuver being done step by step 

This exercise is perfect and simple enough to do throughout the day. For example, when you are standing waiting for the train, waiting on line, and sitting at your desk at work or school. By continuously repeating this motion your body will eventually remember it, and down the line you should notice that you automatically will maintain that position!

 

Check out photos from BBPT’s recent inservice on functional mobilization of the shoulder!

 

Evaluating and Treating Neck Dysfunctions

By Amy Stein

Corey Silbert, who has her CFMT (certified manual therapy certification) and is an OCS (orthopedic certified specialist) led our staff on how to evaluate and treat neck dysfunctions, including those that result in headaches, dizziness, vertigo, pain and radicular symptoms. She evaluated and treated the upper cervical spine and down to upper thoracic area, assessing for decreased mobility in the spinous processes, lateral and rotational movement of the individual vertebrae, any soft tissue restrictions and decreased mobility in the ribs. She then followed the assessment with soft tissue and gentle joint mobilization, as well as neuromuscular re-education and postural training techniques.

We each assessed each other and gave each other a treatment.  If there is a musculoskeletal dysfunction in the cervical, thoracic and rib area, it can result in pain and radicular symptoms down the arm/s, back, and pelvic region as well as cause headaches and dizziness. Physical therapy, which is non invasive is the first line of treatment for these conditions and if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms you should seek out a physical therapist specializing in Manual and orthopedic therapy.

See below for some snaps of our session with Corey!

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