Imagine how you would feel if you never had to experience that deep, aching pain again – what a wonderful feeling! Best of all, it is possible . . . but first you need to know why it happened in the first place.
Meet your upper core
Everyone knows the benefits of a strong lower core but, how many of us know about the upper core. These are the muscles of the upper back that help keep our shoulders back and our head above our shoulders. As you can see in the picture of the upper back, the muscles attach to the base of skull, down the neck, top of the shoulders, and mid back. When they are strong they do a great job of keeping the head and back in proper alignment. Sadly, these muscles can’t do their job because we neglect them. Maybe that pain in your back are your muscles telling you that it’s time to do something about it!
Weak upper core
When we sit or stand with our shoulders even slightly rolled forward the muscles of the upper back start to stretch. Think of how many hours a day our head and shoulders are forward and down. Really, think about how many hours you spend on your computer, phone, or any other electronic device. I assure you, it’s a lot more than we did ten years ago. This posture keeps stretching our muscles and soon they can’t hold our shoulders back without great effort and eventually this posture feels natural to us. Our muscles become strained and then we experience pain as the muscles desperately try to fight gravity and keep our upper body from falling forward.
What’s going on in the front of the body?
All those hours slumped over are causing changes in the chest and front of the neck. While the back is getting over stretched, the opposite is happening in the front. All those muscles are getting shorter and tighter. What happens then? We can start to have shoulder problems, decreased lung capacity, decreased range of motion and just as bad, more pulling on the upper back!
What can we do about it?
Little changes can make a big difference in our posture. Now that we know what causes the pain in our back we can start to make positive changes. Practice holding your shoulders back, head over shoulders and ears in line with your shoulders. Set a timer every 15 minutes and check your posture. Make sure you aren’t bending forward with your shoulders and head. It takes practice, but as your upper back gets stronger you will be able to have good posture that feels natural and takes no effort.