Healthy Living

Why care about posture and pains in back, knee and shoulder?

Why care about posture and pains in back, knee and shoulder?

Chances are you do a lot to sabotage your posture during the course of an average day: reading a good book with your head down, sitting at a computer, or scrolling on your phone.

Activities like these can get your body in the habit of hunching or slouching. Over time this may lead to physical changes that make it harder to stand up straight and cause a curvature in your upper back, which doctors refer to as kyphosis.

While there are medical causes of kyphosis — such as arthritis, osteoporosis-related fractures in the spine, deteriorating discs, or injuries — some cases of kyphosis can be caused by chronic poor posture over many years. This leads to muscles becoming too rigid and too weak to support your upper body properly. Whether you've noticed you're already starting to slouch or you just want to prevent problems in the future, exercise and better lifestyle habits can help.

Poor posture does far more than just affect how you look when you are standing or sitting. It can reduce your strength, impair your balance, and potentially lead to other physical problems over time. Posture problems can start early. Research shows that even teens are affected, says Dr. Frates. By the time people reach middle age, they may already notice changes in their posture or be experiencing chronic pain as a result.

The key to good posture

Holding yourself erect requires both flexibility and strength, specifically strength in a group of muscles and tendons that run the length of the spine, known as the erector spinae. These muscles flank your spine, helping to keep it in position. They work in conjunction with other core muscles and upper-body muscles to hold your body in a straight line. But the good news is that you can strengthen your muscles and improve your posture even if it's already starting to sag. Studies have  found that exercise were able to improve kyphosis of the upper back. Researchers concluded that strengthening appeared to be more effective than stretching alone in improving kyphosis.

Posture-enhancing exercises

Yoga is great way to improve posture. Yoga focuses on gentle stretches and poses. Exercises that target the upper body, arms, back, and abdomen are likely to benefit your posture by strengthening the muscles that help to hold you erect. In addition to doing exercises to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility, also be conscious of your posture, and pull yourself upright whenever you notice that you are starting to slouch. You can even buy a wearable device that will alert you when your upper body starts to bend forward.

Pain relief for hips and knees

Ultrasound, phonophoresis, and iontophoresis

Therapeutic ultrasound is a simple procedure that uses sound waves to increase blood flow, relax muscle spasms, and aid healing that leads to faster hip pain relief and knee pain relief. The therapist applies gel to your skin and moves an ultrasound wand over your skin around the painful area. In a special ultrasound technique called phonophoresis, medication (often hydrocortisone) is added to the gel. In a survey of orthopedic physical therapists, more than half said they would use ultrasound and phonophoresis to reduce soft-tissue inflammation (in tendinitis or bursitis, for example). These techniques are also used to manage pain, heal tissue, and help muscles stretch.

Iontophoresis uses electrical currents to speed the delivery of medication to damaged tissue, or simply to reduce muscle spasms and related irritation. Patches similar to Band-Aids are placed on the skin, and a painless, low-level current is applied for about 10 to 15 minutes. You may feel warmth or tingling during the treatment.

Therapeutic exercise

Strengthening the muscles around a damaged knee or hip can help reduce stress on a joint. For example, your hips have to do less work to support your body weight if your quadriceps, gluteals, hamstrings, and abdominal muscles are strong. Strong quadriceps can also take on some of the shock- absorbing work of the meniscus or cartilage in the knees. The proper balance of strength in the muscles can hold the joint in the most functional and least painful position. Flexibility exercises (to stretch and relax specific muscles) are also an important part of an exercise plan to improve joint function.

Gait retraining

Knee and hip problems can disrupt your normal walk by causing pain, restricting joint movement, or weakening muscles. And a person's normal pattern of standing, walking, or running may invite joint problems. It may take many years of walking with an abnormal gait before joint injury occurs. A physical therapist can analyze your gait and help you learn to move more efficiently. Initially, the "normal" gait may feel odd. It can take practice and continued instruction before it becomes comfortable, but it will eventually become natural for you. Physical therapists may also suggest a change in shoes or ways to strengthen muscles that can help restore a more aligned gait.

Shoulder Pain

Be free from the pain of bursitis • tendinitis • rotator cuff injury • biceps tendon tears • shoulder instability • osteoarthritis • frozen shoulder • shoulder sprain • shoulder impingement • and more.

You don’t have to let shoulder pain handcuff you. Shoulder pain is treatable and beatable. Shoulder pain is pain you can do something about. Regular exercises can prevent pain and cause amelioration if it has started.

 

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