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Photo by Suze Duke

Photo by Suze Duke

I injured my shoulder when I was in high school. I was learning Karate at the time and we were practicing throws. The person I was training with threw me; my arm went, but my body didn’t. My shoulder has never been the same since.

I have tried stretching, strengthening, acupuncture, and massage all to no avail. My shoulder feels better immediately after, but the pain comes back. The pain doesn’t necessarily come from using it too much. A lot of the time, it will start hurting when I am shopping or even just standing.

Then it finally came to me. The initial pain came from an injury, but the chronic pain was coming from something else: bad posture. I don’t know exactly where the bad posture came from ( I would guess two decades of carrying a heavy backpack didn’t help), but it is something I can fix.

I am now doing more stretching and exercising focused on my upper back and shoulders. I think the biggest change, though, is that I am aware of it. Every time I go to the bathroom I take a look in the mirror and fix it (pushing out my chest and extending my upper body seems to do it). I also think about it when I walk, when I run, when I shop, and when I am talking or waiting.

I can’t say yet that I am cured, but I can say that the pain in my shoulders and neck have lessened. I have also noticed that when there is pain, I can reduce it by by simply fixing my posture.

Next time you are in front of a mirror take a look t your own posture. Are your shoulders slanting, your neck bowed forward, and your chest caving in? It is likely causing a lot of your shoulder and neck pain, and likely giving you headaches. Don’t let it!

****Update 11/16/2013****

After writing this article I came across this great video. It is a very simple 3 minute with exercises that really work well. Give them a try and you will see what I mean.