Poor Posture Contributing to Back Pain, Neck Pain and General Fatigue

By Angus Macnab

According to the British Chiropractic Association 32% of the population spends more than 10 hours per day sitting. It has been found from research that the 90 degree sitting position causes greater spinal disc movement than any other sitting position. Without careful thought and an understanding of how to maintain good posture throughout the day, whether at work or at home, illness can result caused by muscular, disc and joint disorders and constriction of blood vessels and nerves, all of which can contribute to back and neck pain, as well as headaches and fatigue.

How can we examine whether we have good posture?

One method is to simply stand in front of a full length mirror and check that your head is straight, your shoulders are level, your hips are level, your kneecaps face the front and your ankles are straight. Then look at yourself from the side and check that, your head is straight rather than slumped forwards or backwards, your chin is parallel to the floor, your shoulders are in line with your ears, your knees are straight and that there is a slight forward curve to your lower back. It is important to remember that a healthy spine is not a straight one. The spine should curve inwards at the neck, outwards at the chest and inwards at the lower back. Clearly if the two curves do not balance each other to spread the pull of gravity then the muscles, ligaments and joints have to work harder to support the weight of the head and body.

Poor posture is commonly found in the work place as we sit at computers in unsuitable office chairs and speak frequently on mobile phones.

How can we improve posture?

Try to avoid slouching with your shoulders hunched as you work at the computer, carry heavy objects in two hands in front of you rather than on one side of the body, do not cradle your mobile phone between your neck and shoulder and try to avoid wearing high heeled shoes.

Take a good look at your office and in car seating. Ensure that it has sufficient lumbar support. If it does not then purchase a lumbar back support; memory foam products are very effective as they mould to shape to your body, as if made especially for you. Ensure that the sitting angle is correct so that pressure on the lower back is reduced. Seat wedges, in particular the coccyx cut out seat wedge, can help to relieve the pressure on the lower back and back pain whilst sitting. Also do not sit for too long in one position, take a break and walk around the office, to stretch muscles and ensure they do not become over tense.

If you feel you have poor posture then it is time to exercise the weakened part of the body to rebuild muscle strength so that it supports your skeletal structure effectively.

Visit a physiotherapist, osteopath or personal trainer and create a program designed specifically for you, providing a range of strengthening exercises for the lower body and core and corrective stretching and back extension exercises.

Product Help Clinic:
View a full range of standard and memory foam seat wedges, lumbar supports, lumbar rolls and neck pillows at support4physio.co.uk, on-line Physiotherapy Supplies direct to the public and practitioner.

Disclaimer: Professional independent medical advice should be taken before acting on any of the information given in this article.

Angus BR Macnab
BSc Hons Medical Biochemistry

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