Most of us don’t think much about the importance of good posture as we spend hours sitting at the office and working with our head bent forward toward our laptop. Often, we take the health of our entire spine for granted until something goes wrong.
Poor posture puts stress on the spine and limits the flow of blood and healthy nutrients to soft tissues. Over time this can cause anatomical changes, which can lead to issues with muscles and joints, and ultimately back pain.
Spinal anatomy is complex and is comprised of:
The spine is designed to be strong enough to protect the highly delicate nerve roots, yet flexible enough to allow movement in all directions. For it to be in optimal health, bones must be strong, ligaments, tendons and muscles must be flexible, and highly sensitive nerves must be free of any pressure.
You may not realize that you have poor posture, but your body is likely signaling to you that something isn’t right.
Back pain that is caused by poor posture typically presents with characteristic pain patterns, including:
The more time you spend sitting, the more likely you are to suffer from neck, shoulder and back pain.
The neck is most vulnerable to the effects of poor posture as it is right above the shoulders and suffers most when the head is tilted forward. Poor posture causes tightness of the scalene muscles, suboccipital muscles, subscapularis, and levator scapulae, resulting in pain and limited range of movement. If the alignment of the head and spine is not optimal, the neck is predisposed to injury and the degenerative effects of wear and tear over time.
Long-term poor posture diminishes muscular flexibility of the thoracic spine causing the upper back to suffer from muscular irritation and/or joint dysfunction from degeneration.
Long-term effects of poor posture can result in neck pain that radiates down to the shoulders and shoulder blades, which triggers painful points in the upper back muscles due to constant tension and limited range of motion.
Known as the lumbar spine, this part of the back bears most of the weight of the torso and is therefore susceptible to damage. Poor posture can lead to various changes in the lumbar spine, including:
The sacrum is the bone that makes up the back part of the pelvis. Shaped like a triangle, it connects the lower part of the body to the spine.
The tailbone (coccyx) is found at the bottom of the spine, and can also be a source of pain. Tailbone pain is more common in women than men. Although coccyx pain is typically triggered by trauma and injury, it can be worsened with prolonged sitting and any activity that puts pressure on this part of the spine, such as poor posture.
By working on your posture, you can avoid back pain and greatly reduce the risk of degenerative conditions. Proper posture corrects muscle imbalances that are often the source of back pain. There are countless exercises and stretches that can support and restore good posture, which the physical therapists in Boston at Blue Hills Sports & Spine Rehabilitation can teach you. These exercises can ease the pressure on your back and ultimately, relieve your back pain; so, give us a call today.