If you’re one of those whose upper back slumps & sags forward and down, try this little experiment.
Sit in your normal slumped position, & turn your head as far as it will go to one side. Notice how it feels. Stop right there – don’t move your neck.
Now lift your chest a little & try to make your neck longer – without tipping your chin up. Notice how your head will turn a bit more without that same level of discomfort.
I’ve had patients complaining of low neck pain turning their heads to reverse the car, and this one simple adjustment to posture is sometimes almost all that’s needed to eliminate or greatly reduce the pinching feeling.
In the next blog: some ways to improve your shoulder and thoracic mobility
So what about shoulder mobility? What’s the connection with a slouched upper back? Well the problem is related more to upper backs that are both curved forward (‘kyphotic’, to use the technical term) AND stiff.
Shoulder flexion – i.e. moving your arms forwards and straight up all the way above your body is only possible if the upper back also bends back slightly for the last part of the arm raise.
So if your back is too stiff that’s going to be harder to do. You’ll feel a tightness at the front of your shoulders as they struggle to do all the movement without your back’s help, or you’ll ‘cheat’ by arching your lower back more – not the best if you suffer from low back pain too!
But hey, what’s the problem? After all, unless you’re a basketball or netball player, how many of us actually need to raise our arms straight up high on a daily basis?
Actually, over the long term the effects can be more insidious and give a pinching pain just raising our arms up to lift, put on a jacket or brush teeth and hair. That’s called impingement syndrome and is another story in itself…