In the average human body there are 360 joints, 206 bones and about 640 muscles. 
No part of your body moves independently, even a small movement requires the help of various muscles and joints. Your muscles are consistently working to keep your body stable and upright. This is generally known as  your posture.

A individual will suffer from postural problems usually due to the result of incorrect alignment or prolonged positions, which can then lead to muscle imbalances. An example of this could be being seated for a large percentage of the day, such as office workers. With time certain muscles will become shortened in length. When a muscle is shorter than the length intended, it not only affects the opposing muscle, which becomes loose and weak, but can have a knock on effect to the entire musculoskeletal system.

Most postural muscle imbalances are due to a sedentary lifestyle. 

The typical office worker will sit for long hours working in front of a computer. Such postural problems could potentially lead to neck pain, headaches, upper back pain, lower back pain &  sciatica. Below are examples of how these occur.

HUNCHED, ROUNDED SHOULDERS & FORWARD HEAD POSTURE:

Due to a lot of us relying on computers, workers are drawn in towards their computer screens, keyboards and mouse’s. As a result the shoulders become more rounded, the back becomes hunched and the head and neck are protruded forward.

When the shoulders are rounded this tends to cause tightness through the chest muscles and the muscles in your upper/ mid back and around your shoulder blades become lengthened and weak. 

Over time these muscle imbalances can cause your spine to become curved with a hunch back posture. This can lead to pain in the back, neck, and in some cases down the arms.

Forward head posture also becomes more pronounced from hunching due to the spinal curve having to compensate. Forward head posture develops from computer use due to the strain to read and see what is on the computer screen. As a result the muscles through the front of the neck and at the base of the skull become tight which can further lead to next pain and an increase in headaches.



SWAY BACK AND PROTRUDING ABDOMEN.

Another common problem from sitting for too long is tight hip flexors due to you having the hips in a flexed position for a prolonged period of time. 

The results of this are: the pelvis rotating forward, the lumbar spine then becomes excessively arched which tightens the lower back and furthermore the abdominal muscles become loose and weak. The primary hip extensors or glut muscles (bum muscles) also become lengthened and weak as a result. 
To compensate for the increase in the lumbar spine spinal curve the thoracic spine becomes more rounded or hunched and forward head posture can develop further.

Sitting for extended periods can also cause chronic hamstring tightness due to the knees being bent for a prolonged periods. There are a few posture problems associated with tight hamstrings. If the hip flexors are tight and the glut muscles are weakened then the hamstrings will become your main hip extensor, which is not its normal role and can therefore not stabilise the pelvis as well during day to day movement. Injuries such as sciatica, disc injuries and lower back pain can occur from this.

EFFECTS OF POOR POSTURE AND BACK PAIN

Poor posture places additional strain and stress on the muscles, ligaments, joints and discs of the back. 

These changes or imbalances are what usually causes back pain. Poor posture is also sometimes due to inherent factors or biomechanical factors (ie. leg length discrepancy).


Hannah Schofield
HS Injury Rehab
 


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