Is Poor Posture Causing Your Pain?
Posture is something that we usually associate with being the cause of our neck or lower back pain. For a long time there has been a focus on sitting up straight, shoulders back etc. While aesthetically it looks like the pictures in an anatomy book, it’s not always the most comfortable position.
Most people like to be in a relaxed, slouched position when they are sitting. Feet up on the ottoman, reading their phone or book. Or leaning forward to read their computer screen. Is sitting in these relaxed ‘poor postures’ going to increase our chances of being in pain?
In more recent times Myotherapists have learnt that posture isn’t as important as we once thought. Rather the amount of time we are in any given posture is where it can have an impact. It still does play a role but not to the same effect as we had been led to believe. Let’s have a look at an example.
An office worker is chained to their desk for hours on end at work to meet a deadline. Slumped forward in their chair, head forward, rounded shoulders etc. After 3hrs straight at the computer they start to get some discomfort through the upper back and neck.
If that same person was to hold a “perfect” posture for the same amount of time they would be experiencing discomfort in their body as well. Perhaps not in the exact same area but still experiencing some discomfort. So maybe we can assume that the posture that we usually hold when working is not as important as the amount of movement that we do throughout the day?
When can posture have an impact?
There are certain postures that can be more straining on the body for any given task. Where your body is under some postural stress for an extended period of time, this is when we start to feel some discomfort or pain. However, if we have the opportunity to change postures regularly, this should help reduce the amount of ongoing discomfort people can experience when operating a task over time.
Posture can have an impact depending on the task you are doing and for how long. Or maybe you are just in an awkward position that your body isn’t used to.
What can we do to try and prevent postural stress from turning into pain?
Move more often throughout the day.
Our body is telling us that something needs to change when we feel discomfort. It takes some body awareness to pick up on these signals before they turn into pain. Sometimes we miss these signals because we are distracted. Too engrossed in a conversation, head deep in work, listening to a podcast etc.
The invent of the sit-stand desk has been a wonderful addition to the humble workplace. Giving people the opportunity to change their positions throughout the day and break up people’s time in one posture. Even standing we need to be aware that we aren’t caught in one posture for too long. Which can have a negative impact as well.
Set yourself a timer for every hour. A reminder that you need to get up and have a quick stretch or do something to make a change.
Do some mindful movement, like Yoga, Pilates or Qi Gong. Movement where you are connecting your mind and body can help with your body awareness. Noticing when your body is under postural stress can reduce the time you are in an unfavourable position. Which should reduce the impact on you.
Hopefully this has armed you with some more knowledge on how posture can affect you and what you can do to manage it. As always, consult your local Myotherapist to make sure this advice is right for you.