Posture is something people often forget to focus on. They end up slouching and hunching forward just because it seems more comfortable than sitting up straight. After years of sitting without thinking about good posture our postural muscles begin to weaken due to a number of reasons. One of those reasons is being on a constant stretch and the second reason is growing weak due to lack of use and strengthening.
One of the postural muscles that we focus on here in Kailua when teaching patients about good posture is the lower trapezius muscles or lower trap for short. The lower trap helps to depress the scapula (shoulder blade) as well as help the upper fibers of the trapezius upwardly rotate the scapula. We focus on activating the lower traps to help stabilize the shoulder blades during overhead movements. When our lower traps are weak our upper trapezius muscles turn on and engage more often than they should. Your upper trapezius (upper trap) is the muscle that helps elevate and upwardly rotate the scapula and extend the neck. When the upper trap has no support from the mid or low trapezius fibers it can become overworked and therefore very tight (think about those knots you feel in your shoulders).
When we begin to focus on isolating these postural muscles, particularly the lower trap, our upper traps finally get to take a break and RELAX. Once this begins to happen more frequently and our body’s muscle memory takes place our body starts to change and our upper shoulders relax. When we educate patients on sitting with good posture we encourage them to focus on the lower trap muscles to help keep the shoulders relaxed. When we sit up straight our muscles may feel like they’re working really hard, which is true, but usually it’s because you’re not used to this muscle activation just like when you begin working out or try a new exercise.
We get used to being slouched and hunched forward causing our postural muscles to be on a constant stretch creating strain on those muscles and allowing them to become weaker. When we focus on strengthening these muscles it is easier for them to hold us upright in good posture and helps to bring them to their resting position causing less tension in our upper back and neck. If you’re at the gym and doing upper body exercises especially arm exercises think about activating these postural muscles to help keep your shoulders down and relaxed to decrease the possibility of tensing your upper shoulders. When the lower trap and other postural muscles become stronger you will begin to notice the difference when you try to sit up straight, it will begin to feel more comfortable and easier to maintain good posture.
If you are worried about your posture, or suffering from back or neck pain, give us a call today to set up a complimentary consultation at 488-5555!
Blog Photo: https://www.reference.com/science/function-trapezius-muscle-4290bb5422360af4