by Patricia Staszak, PT, PYT

Here you are, sitting in front of a computer or phone–yet again. Even with your best efforts to improve your posture, this constant screen time can cause you to habitually pull your head forward, which increases stress on the spine and can lead to pain or discomfort. So in this blog post, we’ll take a look at the effects of poor upper body posture–and show you how to fix it.

neck and head alignment
As demonstrated in the image above, forward head posture increases the amount of weight the head places on the spine. However, with a little work, you can adjust your head positioning and keep your spine in a neutral alignment. This will reduce the strain caused by gravity–saving you from chronically shortened tissues, tightness or pain in the neck, shoulders and back.
To find your best seated posture, follow the cues in the image below.
seated posture

Remember, optimal posture is based on your best alignment, which is determined by your anatomy, strength and flexibility. Do not force, overtighten or “grip” any of your muscles; instead, allow yourself to be supported by the deep postural muscles as they work at a low hum in the background.  Keep your body centered and balanced as you lengthen towards the sky and ground into the earth.

You might feel wooden or stiff at first if you (like many of us) have forgotten the sensation of sitting up straight. Or you may experience fatigue and aching when you first begin the process of adjusting your posture. But with time and persistence, these muscles will get stronger and good posture will feel more natural.
To practice finding this position, give the exercise below a try. It will help you gain the flexibility and strength to keep your head up–and in line with your spine.
Cervical Retraction Exercise:
Cervical Retraction Exercise2 Cervical Retraction Exercise2
In a seated position, look straight ahead and relax. Keep your chin tucked slightly so that it is parallel to floor, begin moving your head slowly backwards until your ear is aligned with your shoulders. Maintain this position for a few seconds. Then, relax and allow your head to return to its previous position. Repeat.