Poor Posture…A pain in the neck!

Poor Posture…A pain in the neck!

A large percentage of my weekly caseload of patients within the clinic suffer pain related to poor posture.

Many of these patients are office workers or have sedentary jobs.
Sitting at a desk or in the car for a large part of the day is not good for our body and can be the cause of many different musculoskeletal problems.

The most common problems that occur as a result of prolonged periods of sitting are: Lower Back Pain (may refer pain down the leg, Sciatica), Neck Pain (may refer pain to the shoulder or down the arm), Shoulder Pain and Headaches

Prolonged, poor sitting posture overstretches spinal muscles and ligaments (soft tissues). Prolonged  overstretching of these structures  will eventually cause pain.  Pain is a warning sign that something is wrong and when we feel pain / discomfort when sitting we will change position. This is something we all do subconsciously.

Changing position takes the stretch off the soft tissues, the pain stops almost immediately and no lasting damage will occur.  If the pain is purely down to poor posture, the pain should cease as soon as we have changed position.

If we ignore the pain warning signs and continue to overstretch the soft tissues, eventually we will cause damage to them.  In this case immediate relief is not felt when we change position and the pain is more long lasting. Other structures such as discs or nerves may also be involved. When these structures are affected pain may also be felt in the legs or arms.

Commonly people with sedentary jobs develop lower back or neck pain because they often sit with a rounded back for hours on end. Often such people go through varying stages of  progressively worsening pain over the years. If only people thought a little bit more about their sitting posture, they could prevent or at least significantly reduce the suffering they often end up with!

Correct Sitting Posture:
The most important factor influencing correct sitting posture is the lordosis (curve in the lower back).

To practise forming a lordosis sit on a stool and slouch as much as you can. Now over correct this position by sitting up as much as you can, accentuating the curve of your lower back. The curve should be now curving inwards. This is the lordosis. This is the extreme of good sitting posture and cannot be maintained for long periods. In order to sit comfortably you must relax the lordosis strain slightly, about 10%, but be careful not to flatten the curve completely, (fig 1).

As soon as you have corrected your lordosis the position of the upper part of the spine should now also have improved. You need to make sure that your head is not poking forwards. Tuck your chin in and pull back your shoulders, (fig 2).

Maintaining correct sitting posture for prolonged periods of time without lower back support can be difficult. Some chairs or car seats will have adequate support for the lower back. However, for those that don’t the use of a  lumbar roll is very useful.

This is a portable lower back support that can be attached to a chair / car seat. It is positioned at waist level helping to maintain the correct position of the lumbar lordosis (fig 3 ).

In all my many years of working with peolpe with back and neck pain, I have never come across anybody who has not found one of these helpful!!

Pain when sitting?……THINK……Correct your posture!!

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