Kathryn Oats - Physiotherapist at Lime Physical Therapy
| Feb 24, 2015
In our clinic many people see us for treatment of neck, back, shoulder and hip pain. What a lot of people don’t realize is there is often a common link with all these injuries. Posture…. or more precisely poor posture.
In fact it is estimated up to 90% of the population have a forward head on neck posture (see image below) - this doesn’t make it normal but highlights how big a problem poor posture is in today’s society, especially with the advent of computers and portable devices.
Posture is the relative positioning of your body parts in relation to one another. It plays an important role in how efficient our body functions and what stresses are placed on our joints and muscles.
Common signs of posture issues include:
A tilt to one side (possible scoliosis)
Forward head on neck
Uncomfortable feeling that hips are ‘out of place’
Tightness and aching in the neck and shoulders.
Tendency to favour one side when squatting
Increased or decreased lordosis and kyphosis
But how does posture cause pain? For example, imagine your head is a bowling ball resting on a broomstick. You’re balancing it directly above the broom with your hands. As you tilt the broom forward the ball becomes heavier. When you have a forward head on neck posture you can increase the load placed on your muscle and joint by up to 400%.
Muscles which are held in a prolonged shortened, or lengthened position will weaken over time. Because of this, posture correction must involve targeted strengthening exercises in combination with an individualised range of motion and stretching program.
Because the spine compensates, changes in the neck can have wide reaching implications through the lumbar and pelvis not just the neck and shoulders.
SO, while you’re slumped on the couch or slouched over your computer or iPhone, keep in mind the load you are placing on your neck and spinal joints.
Prolonged postural stress can cause chronic headaches, neck and shoulder tension, muscle spasm, back pain and fatigue.
Here are some tips to help keep you pain free and sitting straight.
How do I sit properly?
*Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest, if they don't reach the floor.
*Don't cross your legs. Your ankles should be in front of your knees.
*Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.
*Align your pelvic bones with the thighbones. When sitting correctly the pelvis should sit directly over the thighs and you should feel like you are sitting on the front of the bottom not back on the tailbone.
*Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips.
*Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid-back or use a back support.
*Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground.
*Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.
If you are experiencing headaches or pain have a check up with your physio or health care provider and don’t let postural issues become a PAIN IN THE NECK!