Not always, but quite commonly over the years, when I’ve had clients that experienced frequent headaches or shoulder pain their posture has been a strong contributor.
If you stand normally with your profile to the mirror and glance to your side, you might notice a few things.
You might notice that your chin seems to stick a little forward of your body, or perhaps appears to be tucked in.
You might notice your ear seems to sit significantly forward of the boney tip of your shoulder, that your shoulders appear to be quite rounded forward and maybe your upper back may have a slight hunched appearance to it.
Until reading this you may never have noticed this before and now that you are aware you may notice these same instances pretty commonly in the people around you.
These physical cues describe a common posture type called Kyphodic posture.
Now there is no such thing as perfect posture, there is only the constant effort and awareness to improve or maintain a more ideal posture.
It’s amazing that we walk around upright for decades, gravity providing a constant force on our bodies attempting to pull us closer to the ground.
You might not notice its effects each day but, much like the story of the tortoise and the hare over time, the forces of gravity overcome our ability to stand tall the way we did as a child or in younger years.
Kyphodic postural development is greatly influenced by our typical lifestyle. Our life is full of forward motion, full of activity and resistance in front and ahead of us.
By completing movements and patterns so much in one direction or in one plane we upset the delicate balance of our muscles.
Each time a muscle is used (even for the sake of movement without any significant effort or exertion) it must contract.
Each time a muscle contracts it shortens and, unless special attention is given to extending it fully after to the point of stretch, it eventually doesn’t return to its original length.
Short, tight muscles with the assistance of gravity then lead us to the different posture types and those aches, pains and injuries that many assume are an unavoidable by-product of activities of yesteryear.
The truth is most chronic pain is avoidable, and if you are experiencing pain, such as regular headaches and shoulder pain, it can quite possibly be eliminated with an effective exercise plan.
The simple explanation of how to exercise for these situations is to again look in the mirror.
If the ear is forward of the shoulder we need to work to pull it back. You may notice by pulling the shoulders back, lifting the chest, tucking the butt in a little and lastly just slightly elevating the chin that your overall profile improves. You likely also notice that it’s not very comfortable to stand like that for long.
Take note of the specific areas that you felt discomfort, that feeling is quite likely your body attempting to fire some very weak muscles. By completing movements for those joints with resistance in the same direction you needed to adjust your profile you can begin to strengthen or shorten the weak muscles.
At the same time by completing these patterns you will begin to stretch the muscles you have been shortening daily for years.
Hopefully, this helps you gain an understanding as to why you might experience headaches, shoulder pain or even pain in other areas.
A qualified personal trainer can help you further evaluate and recommend specific exercises to help you improve your posture and eliminate pain.
Cabel McElderry is a local personal trainer and nutrition coach. For more information on fitness and nutrition, visit the Fitness F/X website at www.oneto1fitness.com.