Sitting in Traffic? Improve Your Posture

By Kristina Paddock, Physical Therapist

We’ve all sat in traffic. In this short blog post, I will provide you with some simple exercises that can be preformed in the comforts of your car to promote increased neutral spinal positioning or simply, better posture.

Let’s start with the neck. Many of us engage in daily activities (students reading, typing on a computer, texting friends, etc.) in which we flex our neck forward sometimes for a prolonged period of time. Prolonged and frequent neck flexion can lead to changes in cervical spine alignment over time. Here’s a quick exercise that attempts to address such changes. While sitting in your car, attempt to press the entire back of your head equally into the head rest maintaining a level chin (you should not be bending your head backwards). Hold the described position for approximately 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat 20-30 times. Talk on your phone without using your hands (or speakerphone)? You may have some upper trapezius tightness.

To increase the flexibility of this muscle, bend your ear towards your shoulder. Gently apply some pressure with your hand to the top of your head. You should feel a firm pull or stretch in the area between your neck and shoulder (opposite the direction of head bending). Hold for approximately 30 seconds. Repeat 4 times on each side.

Let’s talk about your shoulders. Do you find yourself sitting/standing in a slumped posture throughout your day? Here’s an exercise that attempts to prevent protracted or round shoulders. While seated, draw your shoulder blades down and back, pinching them together. Hold this “pinched” position for approximately 10 seconds. Repeat 20-30 times.

IMPORTANT: Please note these exercises should not cause pain. Please do not perform if pain produced.

Photo Credit: Flickr/

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