For men and women with young children, the late summer and early fall can be both exhilarating and a little exhausting. The back-to-school “circus” is making its annual return and many moms and dads – already busy from their usual work duties – have even more responsibilities. Getting kids ready for the coming school year involves running around town and shopping for school clothes and supplies, buying hip new backpacks, getting school physicals and immunizations and hundreds of other tasks, both large and small. This can be exciting (especially for the kids) but also tiring.
It is no surprise that this back-to-school time period is one where many parents experience back pain. Some moms can develop chronic posture issues that can further exacerbate this pain and it has a name – “Mom posture.”
If you’re a busy mom experiencing back pain, contact our referral line to schedule an appointment.
Recently, a consumer medical website offered insights about correcting a condition called “mom posture,” which is characterized by slumping posture and rounded shoulders. According to the article, “Posture is an example of how a person’s habits can affect their physical body. Conditions such as ‘text neck’ and rounded shoulders are some of the most common ways poor posture begins. Any activity that causes the body to look down and forward for long periods of time can contribute to slumped shoulders.”
The article noted that these positions disrupt how the muscles in the neck, back and shoulders normally function, and it is these muscles that control the way the body maintains its posture throughout the day.
Daily tasks that may contribute to rounded shoulders include:
- Using a smartphone or tablet
- Using a computer or laptop
- Sitting for long periods
- Driving a vehicle
- Bending over repeatedly
- Carrying heavy objects all day
This condition is often temporary (which in no way minimalizes the pain). But in some cases, the day-to-day wear and tear on back muscles and joints causes long-term medical problems that require the treatment from a back specialist, such as Dr. Jessica Shellock, who is a participating physician in the referral program at Texas Health Spine & Orthopedic Center. Since she is both a spine surgeon and mom, her advice is both professional and practical.
The Daily Grind Can Lead to Poor Posture
As it turns out, “mom posture” is not discussed in medical school.
“Until I saw this link, I had never heard of the term,” Dr. Shellock said. “However, this issue of slumping posture among women can lead to other medical issues with pain being one of them.
“As a mom myself, I am sure if I looked in the mirror at the end of a long day, I would see myself slumping with ‘mom posture.’ This condition is not limited to back-to-school time and, in fact, it is not limited to moms.
“What happens is that many of us spend many hours a day looking down a lot. We’re on our phones and mobile devices returning texts and emails. We’re picking up after our children and we’re picking them up. Many of us sit at a desk for most of the day.
“All of these activities have us hunching forward. We forget about good posture and allow our shoulders to slump forward.”
Can this slumping posture lead to other, more serious conditions?
“Honestly, I don’t think this poor posture can lead to a truly ‘serious’ condition that might require surgery,” she said. “However, it can result in pain, and any mom who is involved in that back-to-school flurry of activity can’t afford to be slowed down by pain.
“Medically speaking, this poor posture can lead to the muscles being fatigued and that leads to neck and shoulder pain. For some people, this can also lead to headaches. All of these conditions cause distractions that nobody wants, especially moms who are busy trying to keep everything and everyone moving!”
Carrying the Stress in Shoulders and Neck
There is no clinical measurement or test for the evaluation of a patient’s posture. A spine specialist uses observation to make recommendations in this area.
“Many times I have patients mention to me that they are concerned about their posture,” Dr. Shellock said. “And it is not uncommon for a patient to share the fact that they ‘carry their stress’ in their shoulders and neck.
“Part of the patient assessment involves our evaluation of their spinal alignment and this includes their posture. However, when a patient is being evaluated, they will often stand up straighter than they would normally do. Spine specialists hear about the effect of poor posture, which is typically pain in their neck and upper back.”
Good Posture: It Starts With Awareness
There is no magic pill or procedure for correcting bad posture.
“The most important consideration for better posture is awareness,” Dr. Shellock said. “Recognizing this condition will encourage a patient to focus more on their posture, and they won’t slump as much.
“There are also exercises for correcting poor posture. A professional trainer can suggest exercises that increase the strength of the neck and back muscles. This will lessen the possibility of slumping. Stretching those neck and back muscles will also help decrease their fatigue and result in better posture.”
If you are experiencing pain in your neck and back, this could be due to poor posture. Contact THSOC for an appointment for an assessment.
Physicians who are members of the referral program practice independently and are not employees or agents of THSOC.