The place to find holistic information about your health

Stop Slouching! How A Chiropractor Can Improve Your Posture

Screens. They’re everywhere. On our phones, computers, tablets… even on the streets and at Whole Foods! Technology is to thank for our ability to track diseases early on and prevent them. Technology even helps us track our sleep for better Zs, our steps to get in better shape, and even our blood for nutrient levels to better fuel our bodies. But, with all this new technology, there are negative implications to our health and body. Studies have shown that prolonged use of smartphones can negatively affect both our posture and respiratory function. Because of gravity, the further we allow our heads and shoulders to round over our phones, the more weight our poor spine perceives. In an upright, proper position with our ears over our shoulders over our hips, our spine carries just the weight of our head. This is about 10-12 pounds. Drop your head down 60 degrees to look at your phone and boom, suddenly your spine is carrying the weight of your head with an increased gravitational pull. This increases the pressure on your spine to about 60 pounds, or the weight of the average 8-year-old. Um… no thank you! Ever wonder how a chiropractor can improve your posture? Let me tell you how!

I recently re-certified my yearly Active Release Technique (ART) in beautiful Colorado Springs, learning directly from the founder Michael Leahy. He is a chiropractic sports physician who created his signature method in the 1980’s to treat patients struggling with a wide array of chronic pains or injuries. Funny side note, I learned this weekend, that his brother was a chiropractor first and Mike was the engineer of the family. Mike brings his engineer mind to soft tissue work from a load and lever angle along with really feeling where there are adhesions between muscles limiting movement.  We use ART in the clinic everyday to tackle posture problems on our corporate warriors. Nowhere else in the country is is acceptable to sit 12-14 hours a day, eat lunch at your desk, and not expect to be in any pain. Only in New York City. Let’s dive into posture, “text neck,” and how ART can help us, literally, keep our chin up through our long workday.

Improve Your Posture with ART, forward head translation

What is Active Release Technique?

We’ve been using ART on our patients for ten years with astounding results. Active Release Technique is a therapy used to treat scar tissue and tightness in muscles, nerves, tendons, and connective tissue injured from an acute, overuse, or pressure injury. ART can be used on all parts of the body, including your lower back, shoulders, neck, and even chest. Want to know more? Learn more about Active Release Technique, or how to heal running injuries with Active Release Technique on our blog.  The majority of injuries we see are the result of overused muscles, which leads to scar tissue, strains also known as tears or pulls in the muscles leading to inflammation. The ultimate and unique goal of Active Release Technique is to restore normal glide between muscles and between muscles and nerves. I love Active Release because of the specificity of which you release different muscles in the body, for its effectiveness at treating nerve entrapments, and because you don’t have to kill your fingers by pushing that deep. ART uses a very specific “tissue pull,” and you’d be surprised, considering the massive size of Dr. Leahy’s hands, his touch is super gentle as he is doing a protocol.

Humans were designed to move, not live a sedentary life.

What is “text neck”?

Text neck is a new technology-induced ailment. The term “text neck” can be used to describe Upper-Crossed Syndrome, a muscle imbalance due to prolonged poor posture that results in a jutting forward of the head and shoulders. Doctor Vladimir Janda, the “Father of Czech Rehabilitation,” presented UCS to describe the neuromotor aspects of muscle imbalances in the upper body. Upper-Crossed Syndrome (UCS) is when tightness of the upper trapezius and levator scapula on the dorsal side correlates with tightness on the front of the chest including the pectoralis major and minor. Weak deep cervical flexors on the front of the neck go hand in hand with a weak middle and lower trapezius (the muscles that hold the shoulder blades down and back). This imbalance creates joint dysfunction at the atlanto-occipital joint (where the skull meets the neck), C7-T1 segment, glenohumeral joint (shoulder joint), and T1-T6 segment. In short, text neck creates muscle imbalances which push and pull on your bones and joints, thus misaligning your entire musculoskeletal system. Yikes.

Improve Your Posture with ART, 5 causes of poor posture

How is it treated?

At Urban Wellness Clinic, we always do a full body assessment with a SFMA (Selective Functional Movement Assessment) and NKT (Neurokinetic Therapy) muscle testing. These powerful movement screens help us find muscle compensations and figure out what is tight and stuck or what is moving too much. Once we’ve determined which areas are causing poor posture and pain, we use ART on the tight muscles. In “text neck” cases, the likely culprits are the upper trapezius, suboccipitals especially the rectus capitis, pectoralis minor, pectoralis major, and proximal latissimus which, if tight, internally rotates the shoulder. Sometimes with text neck, we use an ART on the posterior rotator muscles and the posterior cuff, but typically these are corrected because the scapula (your shoulder blade) is rotated upwards and forward. If the rotator muscles are overworked from poor posture, they begin to act as a shoulder stabilizer instead of a rotator, which is not its proper function.

After performing various ART moves, we dive into stability exercises through DNS (Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization) technique. DNS helps our patients find a true, deep intrinsic core brace and train the breath to properly support the newly released muscles. Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization for more information on its benefits and uses. The moves we perform on the body stabilize and activate the deep neck flexors, which upright the neck and activate the serratus anterior, which pulls the shoulders down and wide. DNS improves proximal shoulder girdle stability so that the body can maintain its proper posture once it has been corrected.

So, what’s next?

In reality, we aren’t going to stop using technology. It isn’t the enemy. Just like pie, alcohol, or sunlight, we must practice self-control and moderation. When we know how to navigate life’s pleasures and take advantage of new tools in a way that doesn’t damage our bodies, we open ourselves up to a level of personal growth and mobility like we’ve never imagined. For one, don’t allow yourself to slouch over your phone for more than a few minutes at a time. Perhaps most importantly, move! Humans were designed to move, not live a sedentary life. Set timers for yourself as a reminder to get up, jump around, move, breathe, and stretch. Any position can become a painful one if held for too long (I’m thinking of you, downward-facing dog pose!). Schedule an ergonomic assessment of your workstation to ensure your work desk set-up isn’t contributing to bad posture and pain, and come see us at Urban Wellness Clinic to heal your tight muscles and learn how to maintain proper, pain-free posture while working or on-the-go. Oh, and don’t slouch!

Chiropractic Posture exercises to do at home to improve your posture




Best in health,


Dr. Emily Kiberd