Bartending: Why it kills your posture and what to do about it

Late hours, fast-paced, and often under appreciated by patrons, bartending is a tough job.  Hell, I personally attempted it and got fired (twice!) since I couldn’t keep up with the fast pace the job required. It is a demanding job that will also lead to some unwanted aches and pains.  Clicking and painful shoulders, headaches or back pain can all rear their ugly heads due to the nature of the job.  Although all these are possible and even likely, there are things you can do to fix your posture and reduce the likelihood. First things first though. Why do these things happen?
The repetitive nature of bartending (and often loud environment) means you will assume poor postures and overwork muscle groups, which the body responds with muscle adhesion. Adhesion comes from the body’s inability to clean out the metabolic waste created by muscles simply because those muscles weren’t trained to work as hard as they were asked to. If the body can’t remove waste as fast as the body creates it, inflammation sets in and the body will respond by laying down layers of collagen on the affected muscles (scar tissue). This collagen will restrict range of motion, weaken the muscle and create a lower threshold for pain.
We are going to learn about what to do with Taylor Buckley, co-owner and bartender at Buckley’s, 801 N. Cass Street.  Taylor came into our office stating he had pain between his shoulder blades, which was at its worst during his longest shift of the week.  Once his assessment was completed, we found that not only was his upper back affected, but both of his shoulders were contributing to his issue as well. After 4 visits he said he made it through a long day barely noticing anything in his back! How did this happen?

Removed Adhesions/Improved Spinal Mobility
Using techniques derived from Integrative Diagnosis, we were able to reduce adhesion and get his shoulders and back moving much more fluidly.  Without adhesion, your body moves as it should and musculoskeletal pain is largely non-existent.  Combining chiropractic care and soft tissue care will improve the way your body functions and feels immensely.

Raised Awareness of Bad Habits
Behind a bar you have a few very common postures that will contribute to shoulder and upper back pain as well as back pain, headaches and all sorts of other problems. Once you recognize the problem, it’s easier to remedy the problem. Leaning over a bar to talk to patrons, cleaning glassware and using the POS system looking like this is going to lead to some issues.  Thankfully, I had to ask Taylor to assume a poor posture for this blog’s intentions. He’s learning!
Created New Habits
New habits are hard to start, but if you can manage to one thing a week, it shouldn’t be that difficult to really get the ball rolling to better health.
Learn to move like you were meant to– Lots of the time we use the muscles we are already overusing for easy tasks instead of the bigger, more efficient ones that should be doing the task.  Properly hinging at the hips, retracting your shoulder blades and tucking your chin ensure you will have a neutral spine (good posture) and bring the creation of adhesion to a crawl.
Strengthen postural musclesThe muscles that can most positively affect posture are ones that you likely aren’t using.  Strengthening your latissimus dorsi, lower trapezius, deep neck flexors and improving core muscle tone will go a long way to make your new habits easier. We taught Taylor a few simple exercises that can be scaled up or down, depending on his skill and base level of strength.
Take care of the overused muscles– Things like foam rolling and stretching are often under or improperly utilized. Learning how and when to do these things will make a huge difference in the way you feel AND your pocketbook.  The more you can take care of yourself, the less we have to!

The more you know about how your body should function, the better you will feel.  As humans we often get overzealous in our habits or have inescapable problems where spinal immobility and adhesion will keep popping up such as desk work or other repetitive tasks, so occasional maintenance might be a good idea for some. If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment, give us a call or shoot us a text at (414) 939-5045. You can also reach us at [email protected]. Visit if you want to browse on your own. If you want to chat to Taylor, give him a visit at Buckley’s.  I’d recommend ordering the Banh Mi while you’re there!