We all know the feeling of being a ‘grump in a slump’. You're sat at your desk with shoulders slumped, your back is hurting, your head is pounding, and you would do anything to be out of pain. If your shoulders and head slip forward, additional pressure gets applied to the joints in the neck and discs in your upper spine, which can accelerate degenerative and arthritic changes. Sounds nasty, right? 
 
As well as the bones, the muscles in the neck and upper back are under constant tension. These muscles will contract to try and pull the head and shoulder blades into correct alignment. Over time, this will lead to headaches, neck pain, generalised discomfort, and ‘knots’ due to the root cause not being addressed. 

What is a postural strap? 

You may be wondering what a posture strap is. Well, it’s what it says on the tin! A posture strap aims to pull your shoulders back towards the spine (also known as retraction), which allows short-term relief of your symptoms by correcting poor biomechanics and posture. This will ease discomfort while being worn, but it does not address the root cause of why the shoulders and head have slipped forward in the first place. Therefore, when removed, it’s as if nothing has changed. 
 
If a posture strap is worn over a longer period of time, the body does not learn to rectify the cause of the problem, and therefore this cyclic pain can turn into a chronic complaint. The muscles that aim to pull your shoulder blades back to achieve correct alignment no longer have to do their job, therefore, over time, they effectively ‘switch off’ and disengage. This makes the whole problem worse! You have now become weaker and reliant on this contraption to ease your discomfort, so now you have no choice BUT to wear the strap. 

The pros and cons of postural straps 

Pros 

Immediate relief: Postural straps can provide immediate relief from discomfort by pulling your shoulders back and aligning your posture. 
 
Easy to use: They are generally easy to put on and adjust. 
 
Portable: They are lightweight and portable, making them easy to use anywhere. 

Cons 

Temporary solution: They do not address the root cause of poor posture, offering only a temporary fix. 
 
Muscle weakness: Prolonged use can lead to muscle weakness as the muscles become dependent on the strap. 
 
Discomfort: Some users find postural straps uncomfortable or irritating to wear for long periods. 

So, what can we do? 

Naturally, your body would engage muscles including your rhomboids, lats, and middle and lower trapezius fibers to help retract and depress both shoulder blades (bring them back and down) to bring you into correct alignment. This means no muscle pain, no headaches, and a happier person at work. 
 
The best way to provide optimal results is to work on the root cause of why your shoulders and head have started to slump. Here are some actionable steps you can take: 

Adjust your workspace 

A great starting point is to look at adjusting your desk posture by checking your working environment, including screen height, chair ergonomics, and making sure your desk height is correct for you for short-term relief. 
 
Screen height: Your computer screen should be at eye level to prevent neck strain. 
 
Chair ergonomics: Use a chair that supports your lower back and promotes a natural spine curvature. 
 
Desk height: Ensure your desk is at a comfortable height to avoid slouching. 

Strengthening exercises 

For longer pain relief, aim to reduce tension in your upper body by having regular sports massages and strengthen your natural built-in shoulder support including your back muscles. Here are some exercises to consider: 
 
Rowing exercises: Using resistance bands or weights to perform rowing motions can strengthen your rhomboids and trapezius muscles. 
 
Scapular push-ups: These help engage and strengthen the muscles around your shoulder blades. 
 
Thoracic extensions: Using a foam roller, you can improve mobility in your upper spine. 

Regular movement 

Take regular breaks to move around and stretch. Sitting in one position for too long can exacerbate poor posture and lead to discomfort. 

Mindfulness and awareness 

Being mindful of your posture throughout the day is crucial. Set reminders to check your posture and make necessary adjustments. 

Professional help 

Consider seeking advice from a physical therapist or chiropractor. They can provide personalised exercises and treatments to address your specific needs. 

Final thoughts 

While postural straps can offer short-term relief, they are not a permanent solution and can potentially lead to further issues if relied upon too heavily. The key to combating poor posture and the associated discomfort lies in addressing the root cause. By adjusting your workspace, strengthening the appropriate muscles, moving regularly, and being mindful of your posture, you can achieve long-term relief and improve your overall well-being. 
 
 
Ready to book a massage? Contact our friendly team today, we’d love to help you live a pain free life! 
Tagged as: health, Pain, posture
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