Our culture loves the relaxed look! Back rounded, head forward, slouched and cool. Standing up straight, chest proud, chin up feels too straight forward and out in view.
Posture may be the most common initiating and perpetuating factor in creating arm and hand pain. That cool slouch weakens the back and shortens the front muscles until it becomes hard to sit up straight without tiring immediately. When the shoulder and chest muscles become shortened and tight, they block the flow of blood and nerve signals to and from the arms that they need to be healthy and do the work you give them to do. Reduced blood flow creates an undernourished and toxic condition in the arms and hands which eventually turns into pain. Muscles become weak from lack of neural communication and eventually become injured.
To correct this, the chest and shoulders need to open up and the back muscles tighten up. When the chest is tight, it’s like a heavy spring which is hard to pull against. The back muscles do the pulling, so when the work load becomes to great, it weakens. As the back gets weaker the chest and shoulders get tighter and the cycle goes on.
Start by watching the position of your low back, especially when sitting. Your butt should be at the back of the chair and the small of the back slightly arched. In that position your head and shoulders will automatically come back into alignment with no effort from your muscles.
Stretch your chest and shoulder girdle as you strengthen your back muscles by doing the doorway stretch. As you continue to do this exercise daily, you’ll find how effortless good posture becomes. You’re on your way to reducing pain in your arms and hands.
Doorway stretch: Stand in a doorway with one foot straddling the threshold and your hands on the door jamb, elbows at your side. Lower your shoulders and tuck them in against your ribs as if you were trying to slip your shoulder blades into your back pockets. Shift your weight onto the forward foot until you feel a pull in your shoulders and chest. Exhale and actively stretch for two seconds using the door jamb as your assistant. Release the pressure, then repeat 10 times. Stretch in these three positions 1) elbows at your waist, 2) upper arms parallel to the floor, 3) reaching as high as you can. If your range is restricted by joint tension or pain, go as high as you can, increasing your range as you are able.