Postural Problems

Written by Debby Mar 10 2014

Poor posture can aggravate many cases of back or neck pain.

The good news is that good posture can greatly improve or prevent back problems.

What is good posture?

Posture refers to the position we take when sitting, standing, walking or when carrying out daily tasks. The ideal spine is neither too straight nor too curved but has three gentle curves – cervical, thoracic and lumbar – which balance each other so that no single group of muscles has to work overtime to keep the body upright.

Good posture is surprisingly effortless and can even make you look taller and leaner. Try using the image of being suspended by a thread attached to the crown of your head, to get the sense of length through your neck and spine.

Some common postural faults

  • Standing slouched with head dropped forwards, shoulders rounded and stomach and bottom sticking out. This posture can be responsible for neck pain and headaches as the muscles at the back of the neck become very tight. It can also cause pain in the lower back and in some cases will cause the nerve roots in the lumbar spine to become pinched resulting in sciatica.
  • Standing with one leg bent and the pelvis tipped to one side. The body aims to get the eyes and ears level so there will have to be a sideways curve through the spine to compensate for the tilted pelvis. Uneven levels of muscle tension will develop causing aches and pains in the back, shoulders and neck.
  • Sitting slouched when driving or at a desk with head pushed forward and shoulders tense. Poor seating and bad ergonomic desk lay out will add to the chances of problems developing. Sitting with your legs crossed puts added pressure on your knees, hips and lower spine.

What can you do to help yourself?

  • Alternate positions and regularly remind yourself to lengthen your neck and relax your shoulders.
  • When driving take regular breaks, walk around and make sure your seat is adjusted to suit you.
  • Consider whether your posture reflects an underlying emotional state such as depression which can cause people to hold tension in certain parts of the body. Sometimes, improving posture can lead to feeling more positive about life generally.
  • Organise an ergonomic assessment of your work area to ensure your desk and chair are positioned correctly and your computer and keyboard are at the right height for you.
  • Get an Osteopath’s opinion of your posture! The way we each stand is so familiar to us that we are often unaware of our postural faults which we have spent a lifetime acquiring. The Osteopaths at The Luxton Clinic are experienced at spotting postural faults and can give appropriate treatment and advice.

If you want more advise on your posture, call The Luxton Clinic in Chinnor today on 01844 352200

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