A quick look around any airport, mall, or auditorium/theater will reveal that poor posture is common. There’s forward head posture, rolled forward shoulders, and uneven/misaligned heads/shoulders/pelvis-hips. Some people even limp or shuffle while walking. Research shows that when a person adopts an abnormal posture, it can place added strain on various areas of the body, which can elevate the risk for musculoskeletal pain, including neck pain. The good news is that when combined with chiropractic care, at-home exercises are great for improving a patient’s posture, which can also reduce their risk for future episodes of neck pain. Let’s look at some of the studies that support the use of at-home exercise and posture training for neck pain…
- For older adults with a bent forward posture due to rounding of the mid back (“hyper kyphosis”), a six-month study that included 99 seniors revealed that a one-hour, three times a week exercise program resulted in both improved spinal curvature and self-esteem.
- Among two groups of young adults with rounded shoulder posture, researchers found that shoulder stabilization and shoulder stretching exercises (40 mins, three times a week for four weeks) benefited patients in different ways. This suggests that combining these exercises may be the best approach to improve balance, strength, flexibility, and posture.
- In another study that included young adults with rounded shoulder posture, researchers reported that patients experienced better results when scapular stabilization exercises were combined with abdominal bracing exercises.
- Teenagers with forward head and protracted shoulder posture exhibited improved posture when specific neck and shoulder exercises were incorporated into their physical education program for sixteen weeks.
In 2008, the Neck Pain Task Force recommended exercise for the management of neck pain, including neck pain associated with a whiplash injury. A 2016 literature review published in the journal Spine added to that recommendation by noting that exercise is also effective for grade III whiplash and neck pain (and injury that includes loss of neurological function). Interestingly, the review did not find one form of exercise to be superior to another, suggesting that combining several forms of exercise may be the best way to achieve the most satisfying outcome for the patient.
Doctors of chiropractic are highly skilled in manual therapies, exercise training, and functional assessments – all of which have been found to successfully improve outcomes for patients with persistent neck pain. As with most conditions, prompt treatment yields the best results, so don’t delay in starting your chiropractic management program!