By Sydney CBD Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson
Poor posture is often the result of our bodies adapting to everyday activities, and with desk workers or people who spend majority of their day in a sitting position, this can result in neck pain. Poor sitting posture can cause strain on the neck as the shoulders round inwards, the mid-back (thoracic spine) curves forward and the neck (cervical spine) is forced into an extended position. Sustaining this posture can result in some muscles tightening and shortening, while others lengthen and weaken.
Risk factors for poor posture include low mood or job stress, poor desk ergonomics, high weight/BMI, sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical exercise. Poor posture can not only cause pain and reduced range of motion in the neck, mid back and shoulder region but can decrease lung filling capacity.
What are the signs & symptoms of poor posture?
- Neck, shoulder and upper back pain
- Decreased neck range of motion
- Flexed upper back and extended neck region (hump appearance)
- Tension-type headaches (especially at the end of a work day)
What can you do to help with your poor posture?
We recommend breaking up your sitting posture as much as possible during a work day using “micro-breaks”. Every 30 minutes get up out of your seat, walk for a few minutes, perform stretches and range of motion exercises. This will aim to discourage shortening, lengthening and weakening of your muscles held in a position for a prolonged period of time.
You should also consider assessing and correcting your desk set up. Your desk, seat and computer height should all be customised to your body to place minimal strain on the neck and decrease risk of injury. If you are unsure on how to check if your desk set up is contributing to your posture, your health professional can provide you with further assessment and advice.
A health professional can also demonstrate and prescribe stretches and range of motion exercises aimed at lengthening and strengthening muscles and joints effected by poor posture. General aerobic exercise is not only good for overall health, but can help maintain neck and mid-back range of motion and help modulate pain levels.
In some circumstances, a stand-up desk may be recommended for you. If required, a health professional can request your employer to provide one. It is recommended that a stand up desk be set-up specifically for your body and that you alternate between sitting and standing every 30 minutes or hour.
For more information on the contribution that poor posture and a poor work environment can have on neck pain, check out the video below from Sydney CBD Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson, or click here
When should you see a health-professional for your poor posture?
- Neck pain becoming more intense or not improving
- Restricted neck range of motion impacting performance of everyday activities
- Headaches getting worse or more frequent
- Pins, needles, tingles or nerve pain radiating in to the arm
What can a health professional do to help with poor posture?
Health professionals aim to provide more than just symptomatic relief of pain and stiffness with hands-on techniques. The aim is to correct posture, decrease muscle tightness and decompress the neck region and prevent poor posture from causing pain/symptoms in the future. A session will typically begin with a long series of questions to establish which structures are generating your pain and the reasons why. This will help a health professional plan their hands-on treatment and the take-home exercises they will prescribe to you. Sessions are complimented with education and prescription of rehabilitation exercises which address joints and muscles impacted by poor posture.
For more information on other conditions of the Neck, please click on the following conditions:
- Neck Pain and Complaints
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- Facet Sprains
- Cervical Radiculopathy (Pinched Nerve)
- Cervical Osteoarthritis