Does your back hurt for no reason? Feel exhausted standing in line? Do you have balance issues? Are you find that you slouch at your desk?
I don’t know about you, but I would slouch when I was a teenager; my mother often told me to “stand up straight.” Later, I would carry on the “stand up straight” tradition when I had my own children. However, being a personal trainer, and I knew all the adverse effects of bad posture, so perhaps I was more obsessive. Instead of constantly nagging my kids about posture, I pressed my fingertips into their shoulder blades to remind them, and it worked like a charm. Later, I used it on some of my clients. Posture matters a great deal in weight lifting. Bad form equals injuries.
Symptoms of Poor Posture
The symptoms of back or neck pain vary depending on the cause. However, here are some common ones:
- Muscle tightness
- Muscle spasm
- Muscle ache
- Stiffness of back or neck
- Pain gets worse with activity
I often alleviate the above symptoms with pressure using a spiky massage ball or a foam roller or I also use a muscle gun deep tissue massager.
You can also try stretching or yoga to alleviate discomfort.
More extreme symptoms do require a visit with your doctor. Sudden onset of acute or even ongoing discomfort for 3 months or longer is generally treated differently depending on what is causing the pain. For instance:
- Pain radiating down your leg
- Pins and needs sensations
- Leg numbness
- Pain gets worse with activity
- Pain gets better when laying down
What Causes Poor Posture?
So why do we develop poor posture? Initially we slouch/slump because it feels like it provides relief from tired muscles. However, poor posture leads to balance issues and can lend to breathing complications and even unexplained fatigue. Long-term it causes strain on your muscles and joints and can cause serious damage to the spinal tissues.
Age & Core Strength
As we age, there is a natural deterioration of core muscle tissue that starts in our 30s. It is a slow deterioration, so we might not notice, but once we reach our 50s, we suddenly start having trouble with daily tasks. Things like standing up from a chair require using your arms to get up, or you feel a pinch or a twinge in your lower back when transferring the laundry, standing for periods of time, or picking something up from the floor.
Proper body alignment and core strength help prevent pain and injury. A weak core impacts everyday life, including basic functional movements (standing for long periods, household chores, etc.) that can become challenging and eventually impossible.
So, where is your core. It is in your midsection and involves all the muscles in that area to include the front, back, and sides. In detail, your core entails the following:
- Stomach – rectus abdominis (6-pack muscles), transverse abdominis (lower abs), inner and outer obliques (side of abs)
- Back – multifidus (deep muscles in the lower back), erector spinae (muscles along the spine)
- Diaphragm – (muscles at the bottom of your rib cage)
- Pelvic floor – (muscles in the lower pelvis)
- Hip joint – (ball and socket joint)
Without regular strength training, core muscle fibers shrink and become less flexible. Since the abdominal muscles act as an anchor for our spine, we are more susceptible to injury and back pain when they are weak. The problem can be compounded if we’re carrying around excess weight, have poor posture, or are afflicted with an illness such as arthritis or osteoporosis.
Core training has become a popular fitness trend because we have become so sedentary. A strong core is vital for maintaining balance throughout the human body. This type of training intends to target the muscle groups located around the midsection. An example of a exercise for core training is a plank.
How To Do a Plank
Start by facing down. Push off the floor- raise up onto your toes and rest on your forearms. Tighten your abdominal and gluteus muscles. * Picture a long straight board balancing on your head and down to your heals. Beginners aim for 20-30 seconds and work your way up to 4 minutes.
Another couple of variations of a plank are:
You can add a rower to your workout. Rowers are low impact, have fat burn abilities, and work to strengthen the whole body. Check out my article Full Body Workout – Try a Rower.
Don’t hesitate in asking for help or commenting.