I want you to pause for a second and take a look at your posture. Is your chin poking forward? Are your shoulders hunched and slouched over as you are reading this? What about your arms, low back, and feet? Are they supported or dangling in space?
You’ll often hear physios talk about good posture. Well that’s because poor posture is often the culprit of neck and low back pain. Let’s take the head for example. A human head normally weighs about 8-15lbs when in normal posture. In an ideal position, the stress on the neck is minimized because the cervical spine and its surrounding muscles optimally support the neck. When we bring our head just a couple of inches forward, the head can double its weight! That can translate to abnormal pressure in the muscles and nerves of both neck and shoulders. This can lead to compensations such as rounding of shoulders and poor positioning of the torso. Further, poor posture not only tightens the muscles in the upper back and shoulders, the muscles at the front of the neck can also become weak. When we combine all of these changes throughout our body, we may develop a condition that is similar to tension headaches.
If we think of our head as 10lbs of groceries, then it really does make sense! We always carry groceries close to our body and would never carry them with our arms stretched forward. Then why wouldn’t we do the same with our heads? It's not the weight of the world on your shoulders, it's just your head!
Written by Janice Lee,