Scroll down to watch my Video Blog or read the transcript below:
"Hi, I'm Dr. Erin Ducat, a chiropractor here in Bloomingdale, Illinois. A lot of patients come to my office and complain about their posture. They've been fighting it for years. It seems to affect the way they feel, the way they move. Causes a lot of pain discomfort, and they're really frustrated by it. They've been doing a ton of shoulder stretching and shoulder strengthening exercises -- routines that they've looked up on YouTube, et cetera. These exercises are supposed to be great for posture, but they feel like they really aren't getting anywhere.
One of the first things that I'll do with those patients is to evaluate if their posture problem coming from their shoulders or if it coming from the spine. The middle part of your back is called the thoracic spine. It's formed of 12 different vertebrae. Each vertebrae connects in with a rib and then that rib wraps around, connects here in the front to your sternum. This creates your rib cage.
Now this area very often gets tight, gets locked up and get stuck in what we call a kyphotic position. Kyphotic position or kyphosis means that you're stuck hunched forward. When the thoracic spine, the rib cage gets stuck in kyphosis, it doesn't like to extend, and it also have difficulty rotating. Extension and rotation are what we call coupled movements in the thoracic spine rib cage area. In other words, they work hand in hand. If you can't extend, you're not going to be able to rotate. I can guarantee, if you can rotate, you can extend. Those two things go hand in hand.
Now, if your thoracic spine and the rib cage, is stuck in a kyphotic position, you can stretch your shoulders until the cows come home and it's not going to fix your posture. You can stretch your shoulders all you want, but if the posture problem's happening in your thoracic spine or rib cage area, stretching your shoulders isn't going to help.
Sometimes your posture problem could be coming from the shoulders. Most of the time -- I can't say all the time because they haven't looked at every patient that's ever been out there -- but most of the time, if someone has shoulder mobility problems or shoulder strength problems that are causing posture issues, it's secondary to the thoracic spine and rib cage. I don't really think I've ever seen a case where it's just a problem in the shoulders and not also a problem with thoracic spine and rib cage.
An easy way that you can start to evaluate this at home is by using a wall. This is actually a technique that I use here in the office quite frequently. You to stand up against a wall and your feet should be within about a maximum of six inches from the wall. If you can get a little bit closer, that's great.
When you're analyzing your posture, you should be able to have your tailbone, your middle back and the back of your head touch the wall. Your eyes should be level at the horizon, not tipped up -- nice and level. Your shoulders should also be able to touch the wall. So if I rock my shoulders back, I should be able to get my shoulder blades nice and flat against the wall.
Now, if you go up against the wall and you notice your spine is touching, but your shoulders aren't, that means you need to work more on opening up the shoulder, shoulder mobility, as well as shoulder strengthening in the back. If you feel like your spine isn't quite touching the wall. Maybe your upper back can't touch, or maybe to get the shoulders back, you have to arch your rib cage , or perhaps your neck is having to tilt up like this in order to touch the wall. That's an indicator that you're having problems in your thoracic spine and rib cage.
In order to fix your posture problem, you've got to first fix that thoracic spine and rib cage. Once that's resolved, then it's time to address whatever's happening at the shoulder. If you flip those two things around, either you're going to be very frustrated you're not seeing progress, or you can possibly overstretch your shoulder causing injury to the rotator cuff or the labrum in your shoulder, and that's never a fun thing.
If you need help with your posture, need someone to pinpoint where your issue is and give you some guidance on how to fix it, whether that's your hands on chiropractic care or exercises that you can do at home to get better, let me know. I practice here in Bloomingdale and virtually throughout Illinois. Learn more and book online at https://www.ducatchiropractic.com/"
Erin Ducat DC, CSCS, CCSP, DACRB, FACO
Chiropractic Physician, Board-Certified in Sports Medicine, Orthopedics and RehabilitationContact Me