Correct posture and alignment, especially while sitting for prolonged periods, is essential for office workers in order to prevent work related pain and injuries. Admittedly, most of us sit with poor posture at some point, but when a person has to adopt their sitting position for long periods of time, often day in and day out, poor health issues can result.
Some consequences of prolonged incorrect sitting posture…
- Neck pain and spasm
- Interscapular/thoracic pain and stiffness
- Lower back pain
- Muscular tension throughout the shoulder girdle
- Wrist, forearm or elbow pain
- Potential for lumbar disc irritation/bulging
What to do about it…
Many people admit they know they have poor posture, but don’t know what to do about it. This is where education becomes crucial. Correct workstation setup is very simple to teach and the most effective preventative tool we have in helping people avoid the above potentially disabling problems.
At Perth Posture Centre we are well trained and experienced in educating patients about workstation setup, postural corrective exercises and manual therapy that will alleviate any problems that may have arisen from poor office work habits. We use a combination of soft tissue massage, trigger point release, spinal mobilisation, dry needling (acupuncture) and exercises to stretch and strengthen anti-gravity muscles as well as improving alignment when we are faced with these workers. As usual, early detection and referral for treatment is the key.
Are you guilty of having poor posture while reading this blog post? If so, you may be suffering from a modern day health challenge called “tech neck.” Poor posture while utilising technology is a very common factor contributing to poor postural design.
Technology is recognized as one of the principle causes of the modern day posture epidemic. Poor posture due to looking down at a mobile phone is so common that a new diagnosis has been created to explain the phenomenon, and that is “tech neck.”
Do you suffer from headaches, neck pain, shoulder tightness or fatigue?
If you do, it could be due to your posture while using technology. Repetitive stresses from checking your mobile phone with improper posture or having slouched posture at work on your computer can have a tremendous impact on your posture and your health.
The impact of proper posture is far beyond the musculoskeletal system. Consider the following research studies showing that forward head posture has a negative impact on your health.
Did you know…?
Instead of looking down while sending a text message, checking your email or social media, raise your phone to eye level to avoid excessive strain to your neck and upper back. Also, be sure that when using a computer your screen is close enough where you can see it clearly without jutting your head forward, as well as having it at the correct height so you're not looking down to see the viewing area.
For proper posture while using technology, consider the following posture tips to re-train poor posture habits.
Do I use mobile devices? Of course I do. As a posture professional however, I try to be deliberate about my posture while I use them, because I know full well the consequences if I don’t. I’m trained to look out for this while I text, check emails or Facebook, or even play games, but your children aren’t. Anyone using a mobile device for long hours is more than likely allowing their body alignment to suffer in a big way.
How many hours do our children and teenagers spend on these devices? I remember a time where kids would go to an arcade and stand up to play games. Then we shifted to home systems where we would sit or lay for a few hours and then eventually go outside to play. As time moved on, games have become much more involved and addictive. Now, games have also become much more mobile and this is not necessarily a good thing. On top of all this, nearly everything else can be accessed on a mobile device as well, from social media, to messaging and so much more. There is now more reason than ever to spend time staring at a small, hand held screen.
From the eyes of a posture specialist, I notice how young people look while they’re playing. Head hung over, neck flexed, shoulders slouched, focused solely on the game or screen and not much else. The obvious consequence that children are setting themselves up for posture related musculoskeletal problems and they don’t even know it, really bothers me!
In only a few years, many of the children of this generation are going to have serious postural abnormalities. The long hours spent on mobile devices while in poor alignment will be a major factor that caused this. Can you imagine a child incurring forward head posture, “text neck”, or thoracic kyphosis before their 20s? It’s becoming a reality. These are issues that adults battle in their later years- no child should have to worry about visiting a doctor or therapist because of persistent neck pain or headaches. I am seeing far too much of this already in our physiotherapy clinics, and have even experienced it at home with my own kids. Mine are just fortunate they have parents that can educate them on what’s going on and make them more aware of their posture and the role it plays in their aches and pains.
So, what can you do?
Understand that what we’re talking about here is serious, and it extends into all excessive use of mobile devices while in poor alignment. We can start impacting change by actively discussing it with family, friends and colleagues. Particularly, if you or someone you know has or works with children, really open this discussion.
Here are some points you can bring up with them and discuss now:
Whether it’s at home, in the car, or at school, our children need us to help them with this. It’s the responsibility of all of us to look out for their posture before it turns into a serious problem. By becoming more aware and openly discussing these points within your family and social circles, we bring more attention to it and even better, brainstorm some simple ideas to help make a positive change. Believe me, a little can go a long way here, and we really can significantly influence the path of our children’s health.
This is an issue I am very passionate about (in case you hadn’t noticed!) and I intend to make a difference to as much of our community as I can.
Please browse the rest of our site here at Perth Posture Centre to learn a little more about these issues. If you have any questions at all, or if you would like me to come and do a talk, you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the clinic on 08 9446 7017.
I hope this helps you learn more and begin making some positive changes, for you, and for those you care about.
What if I told you that your posture can cause minor aches and pains or long term pain, discomfort, and sometimes loss of function? As you lean forward on the edge of your seat to continue reading this, your shoulders may be slouching while your head might be shifting slightly forward. Do you do this often?
If you consistently read or look at a screen in this posture, or if you find yourself hanging your head when you walk, you could develop a common musculoskeletal condition called forward head posture (FHP).
Have you ever seen someone with their head and neck leaning forward? You may see it in older adults more, but with the routine activities we perform (e.g. mobile phone usage), it’s becoming more common.
If you perform activities regularly in poor alignment it alters your nerve and muscle pathways, which will cause the head and neck to adapt more readily to FHP. Some muscles will become stronger and tighter while others will become weaker and more stretched. The nerves could then be affected as well; even getting “pinched” or compressed. This does not occur overnight, it happens gradually. The more you perform an activity in poor alignment the less likely you are to notice you’re doing it and before long you’ll have FHP and the symptoms to go along with it. Some of you reading this may already have symptoms but never realized it until now.
Here are three questions to ask yourself regularly to help you avoid forward head posture:
What kind of posture do I have while I’m at work?
Whatever you do for a living, do it in good posture. You spend many hours of your life at work so this is one of the places you’ll need to be the most vigilant. Adjust your seat and laptop/computer so the top of the screen is at eye level- you shouldn’t feel like you have to strain or hunch forward to read something on the screen. It’s important you get a handle on this and help clients make the necessary adjustments.
Am I hanging my head/lurching my neck forward when reading, playing video games, or on my phone?
When it comes to activities involving books, mobile devices, or computer screens, you may have a bad habit of staring and not realizing the position your neck is in. Let’s do a small activity, where are you right now and what is your body doing? Pay attention to your head and neck. Are you guilty of the problem? Going forward, I want you to work on your awareness. When holding your mobile device, hold it higher and away from your face so it’s comfortable. Use your eyes instead of leaning your neck forward or tilting your chin downward when on your phone. Check your body alignment when playing video games, especially if you slouch. If you’re reading books, pay attention to how you’re sitting or lying, and where your head and neck are positioned. Remember, you do these activities often, so make sure you habitually do them in good alignment.
When I exercise or perform activities, do I have poor mechanics and don’t realize it?
Have you ever seen someone performing an exercise and they’re pushing their head and neck forward, maybe with the increased effort? I’ve seen too many people jut their chin and head forward while performing exercises. My point here is when you exercise you must pay attention to what your body is doing. Let’s make some changes now by correcting our poor habits.
I hope you pass this message along because there are too many people who probably have symptoms and don’t realize what’s causing them. Symptoms could be as simple as neck pain or headaches, or more complex than that. While every ache or pain isn’t caused by poor posture, it’s still worth checking your head and neck to ensure they’re in proper alignment. Ask yourself these questions and keep correcting yourself where possible.