07 Sep How to correct your posture with sticky tape!
By Donna Gee
Without moving a muscle, right now do a quick body scan and take stock of your posture. If you’re sitting at your laptop or iPad, or on the move reading on your smartphone, the chances are your back is rounded, your shoulders hunched and your head forward. You know what you should do, right? Feet flat and balanced, body upright, back straight, head balanced, alert but relaxed. A little wake up call like this illustrates the difference between healthy, correct alignment and a problem-inducing posture. One of the ways Canadian physio and Flex instructor Donna Gee helps correct and retrain posture is by using tape. She explains here a little about how taping can help improve posture, prior to leading a workshop on Saturday 19th September.
Today’s computers, school bags, phones and TVs create slouchy postures. We are a population of round-shouldered, head-dropping adults, and increasingly children too. And this kind of posture can cause common symptoms like back, neck and shoulder pain.
Many people don’t know how to correct their posture, or if they do they find it tiring and difficult to sustain. Taping is a method that helps to reposition the joints so that tight, overactive muscles can relax and lengthen while weak, stabilising muscles can do their job to support the spine and surrounding bony structures in a corrected posture.
A common complaint is neck pain, with aching, tight muscles around the shoulder area. If your shoulders are rounded and your head is extended forward (commonly known as poking chin) you could benefit from taping. The upper trapezius (the muscle sloping from the neck to the shoulders) is under constant tension and taping will alleviate this by placing the shoulders in a better mechanical position. The scapular stabilizers can now engage properly, giving your body more stability, and the right muscles in front can lengthen thus opening up the front of the chest.
The colourful tape you see plastered onto athletes at races is kinesio tape. This stretchy tape is more for movement, supporting the fibres of the muscle by lying along the direction of the muscles. It is good for athletes with muscle strain who need to continue training, but when applying it you need knowledge of muscle anatomy to get it right.
The rigid hypoallergenic tape I use will restrict the shoulders from easily rounding forward, which results in better posture and decreases neck and shoulder pain. Tape is especially good for increasing the awareness of bad posture and keeping clients self-correcting until they’ve instilled a new habit. As soon as you start correcting your posture and strengthening your core you will see immediate changes. The tape can be worn for as long as you like but in Hong Kong the hot, humid weather tends to limit it to two to three days.
If you keep the tape on for a week you’ll be doing pretty well and the long weak muscles will already be shortened and stronger, tight ones releasing. The question is can you keep it up for longer? You really need around three months for a permanent change of muscle quality. Tape helps remind you, giving you time to correct your habit from an unconscious to conscious one, and then from a consciously corrected to an unconsciously corrected one.
At the workshop I will also teach people how to strengthen their deep neck flexors (needed for neck stability), which once combined with open shoulders will give you good upper body posture.
By learning this very simple technique of taping you can help your friends and family improve their posture too.
Donna has lived in Hong Kong for over 20 years and during that time has helped numerous Hong Kongers recover from injuries and work on their posture and core stability. Formerly a one-on-one instructor at Flex, she held the “Posture Taping to Alleviate Neck and Shoulder Pain Workshop” at One Island South. Read more about our upcoming workshops here.