This is really common postural problem, especially with those who spend long hours hunched over a desk. It results from muscle imbalances in the neck and upper back. Over time with poor posture and bad habits, we can develop "tissue creep". This is when the tissue cannot take the constant load of flexing over your desk for a long period of time for example, and eventually goes beyond stretch into deformation. It has been suggested that sitting for 20 minutes can result in laxity of the spinal ligaments and it can take 30 minutes for these ligaments to regain their normal stiffness again. The same research also suggested that if you have been sitting for some time, it's a good idea to get up and walk around for a few minutes before attempting anything strenuous.
(Creep response of the lumbar spine to prolonged full flexion. McGill, S.M, Brown, S.)
This muscle imbalance from prolonged sitting in a poor position results in weakness of the lower and middle trapezius, rhomboids and neck flexors and tightness of the upper traps, upper neck and pecs.
This pattern of imbalance is common but with hard work and the right advice it can be improved. The first step is to become aware of it! Once you notice your bad habits and poor posture you can start to correct it. It took you years to learn those bad habits so you won't correct it overnight, be patient. Over the coming weeks and months you will start to notice the difference. It's a really good idea to take before and after pictures so you can see how far you've progressed.
What your chiropractor should do:
- release the trigger points in the tight muscles and fascia
- address any restrictions in your neck, upper back and shoulders
- check your low back in case it's contributing to your upper back posture
- help you time the progression from stretching through to each strengthening phase
What you should do:
- keep your shoulders relaxed down
- stretch the tight muscles
- strengthen the weak muscles
- foam roll your thoracic spine
- take regular breaks from your desk
- improve core stability
CLICK HERE to learn 5 exercises that will help your posture.