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Pei-Jiun Cheah

Importance of shoulder positioning

When you have neck pain it is important to look at your upper back posture and shoulder positioning.

In today’s society the majority of us are stuck at our desks, glued to our computers, tablets or mobile phones and we are unaware of what postures our bodies are adopting.

We see many people now having rounded, elevated shoulders and upper backs that are slumped when standing and sitting. This postural adaptation to the technological society we live in is becoming more and more problematic. The results we see in the studio are headaches, upper back and neck pain, shoulder impingement or rotator cuff tears. Our time poor society goes from stagnant work postures to suddenly exercising heavily or lifting heavy weights and often there are injuries due to non-optimal postures.

To prevent this, ensure your work station at home and at work is set up ergonomically. If your job entails you to sit a lot and work in front of a computer set up needs to be optimal for body position. Eye gaze should be directed to the middle of your computer screen with the computer in front of you. Have a seat that is adjusted to your body allowing your hips to be slightly higher than your knees, your arms should be resting comfortably at 90 degrees on the table and you should be able to move your mouse keeping your elbow close to your body. The further away your mouse is, the more likely your are to strain your neck and shoulder and perhaps create neural tension down your arm that can make your fingers or arm tingly. Try to keep your bum all the way to the back of the chair and look to see if you have adequate lumbar support so you’re able to sit with your lower back in a neutral position which will put your upper back and neck in a more upright posture. Your feet should be resting flat on the floor or on a foot stool to prevent excess hip tightness.

Tips on how to achieve better shoulder position:

  • Take regular breaks – if you are at a desk all day take micro breaks at least every hour. Stand up, do a few hip stretches, neck and shoulder stretches, trunk twists to loosen built up tension.
  • Sit in a tall posture with shoulders relaxed – avoid hitching up of the shoulder when working (especially in stressful situations).
  • Think space between collar bone and the glenohumeral joint – this will allow for that widening through the front of your chest to avoid hunching.
  • Avoid jamming shoulders down – this is important as jamming shoulders down instead of relaxing them can make your shoulders rest lower than it actually should, and can eventually lead to upper back pain or nerve pain in your neck or arm.
Watch this space for shoulder exercises for strengthening and maintaining your flexibility.

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