The three natural curves of the spine plus the discs in the spine help absorb the “shock” or “forces” of everyday life. Jobs or tasks that require bending forward all day (in addition to the 3,000 and 5,000 times a day we ordinarily bend forward), decrease the natural curves of the spine, resulting in more stress being placed on the back side of ligament and joints of cervical and lumbar spine.
1-There are certain muscles in the body that are active all the time. They keep the body erect and are known as postural muscles. If posture is poor, these muscles have to work harder. One group of muscles may be overstretched while the opposing muscles are tight. When this happens, neither group is working effectively. This misalignment and imbalance can lead to joint damage and aches and pains.
2-Overall, bad posture results in more wear and tear on the spinal structures.
3-After age 30, all the years of straining the normal tissue from slouching eventually decreases structural stability, allowing for greater wearing down of ligaments.
4-Postural misalignment can cause radiating pain away from the back and spine due, for instance, to a pinched nerve; and muscle spasms can create headaches, neck and scapular pain.
5-Pain often begins as a soreness or stiffness in the neck and shoulder blades and can progress to headache pressure and band-like symptoms around head and/or back tightness that can progress to the hip, leg, and toes.
6-Many factors contribute to the onset of pain, including job duties, hobbies, household responsibilities, studying, and genetics. Prevalence of pain
7-Studies show that 90% of the population experience spine symptoms at least once in their lifetime.
8-Many people have neck and back pain, but it is not always isolated to those regions. The pain can also travel into arms or head/eyes as well as radiate into the gluts, groin, hip and legs/feet.
9-Each episode of back stiffness and pain can become progressively worse and last longer and travel farther from its origin.
10-If you don’t stop the cycle and figure out the cause of each episode, accumulation of damage to structures lead to eventual failure of the spinal structures. At this stage, physical therapy alone will not be effective. You will need more extensive intervention with spine doctors, pain management, or possibly a surgeon.
11-If the symptoms were addressed early, 95% of herniated disc patients would NOT require surgery.
How do you know if you have good posture?
Look at the soles of your shoes. Do the bottoms of your shoes wear in certain places? Do you have aches and pains in your back or neck? Look in the mirror. Are your shoulders rounded?
Benefits of good posture
Having good posture has many benefits. By positioning the body correcting while sitting and standing, there is even pressure on the spine, its muscles and ligaments.
Having good posture can reduce physical stress on the body. Headaches, neck pain and back pain can be lessened when the body maintains a good upright position. If you slouch while sitting at a desk for long periods of time, you may find that, after a while, your back and neck are sore. With proper posture, sitting is more comfortable.
Good posture can affect your intake of oxygen. If you are hunched over, your lungs may not be working to their full capacity. If you stand up straight and allow lots of room in the chest for breathing, you’ll have more energy and often feel better.
Optimal body positioning to decrease neck and back pain
Simply put, use your postural muscles! Don’t just wear them. Think chest out, chin in, stomach tight with standing, walking, lifting and bending.
1-Sitting: Use lumbar support in car and/or chair or adjust car seat to upright. Sitting up straight puts the least amount of stress on the spine. It may take
more muscular and mental effort but it is wise to create this new awareness and
2-Standing: Keep one foot in front of and more elevated than the other when working in a cupboard, ironing, washing dishes, or even standing at work.
3-Sleeping: Get into a neutral position, either on your back (use 1 pillow) or side (use 1 pillow). Avoid lying on your stomach if you have neck pain. When lying on your side, make sure your head is positioned such that you are looking ahead, not down at your feet. Contour pillows are good to use (though they take some time to get used to), or you can use pillows that incorporate a cervical roll. Keep the bottom leg straight; top leg can be bent or rested on pillow.
4-Driving: adjust the seat forward so your knees are higher than your hips. Put a small pillow or cushion in the small of your back.
stay upright with your head against the headrest and straighten arms out to keep shoulders back. Tilt rearview mirror a bit toward the roof so that an upright posture is necessary to maintain the total field of vision in the mirror.
5-Using a computer: Screen should be positioned at eye level, with head back and chin in. Sit back in chair and use a lumbar roll. Use attached arm on monitor or other device to hold documents at eye level.
6-Bending: never twist from the waist and bend forward at the same time. To lift or reach something on the floor, bend the knees while keeping the back straight.
use golfer’s lift or ½ kneeling position when putting dishes in dishwasher, getting laundry out of washer, putting items into trunk/cart, etc.
7-Lifting: Keep the object being lifted close to you; get down under it. let your legs do the work in order to prevent injury to your low back. Stand close to the object, then where possible squat down and straddle it. Grasp the object, and slowly lift the load by straightening your legs as you stand up. Carry the object close to your body.
8-Reading: Don’t read in bed. Often, too much head flexion is created if pillows are bunched up behind the head. Instead, sit with your back against the headboard or in a chair next to the bed.
9-Enjoying hobbies: For counter- or lap-based hobbies such as quilting, sewing, collecting items in albums, etc., don’t continuously look down for long periods of time without taking a break. Change your physical position and stretch in the opposite direction about every 20 minutes.
10-Gardening: Don’t do marathon gardening sessions. Take frequent breaks. Half kneel or squat when working.
11-Cleaning: When possible, half kneel or squat to keep spine in a neutral position.
12-Watching television: Sit up straight in the chair or on your couch. Don’t slouch. Get up periodically and walk around.
Remember that chronic poor posture causes a loss of flexibility in the major muscle in front of the shoulders (i.e., the pectoralis major muscle), decreases the mobility of the cervical spine, and causes loss of strength of the scapular muscles, making it almost impossible to maintain good posture.
A physical therapist can make sure you are prescribed the appropriate exercises for your condition, and can modify the exercise as necessary. You don’t need a referral from a physician for an evaluation by a physical therapist in the state of Michigan . You may be seen directly by the Physical Therapist.