28 Jan Good Posture for Lower Back Pain, Neck Pain & Appearance
Why is good Posture Important?
Not only does great posture help to stop you from getting lower back pain and neck pain, it can also improve your mood, stress levels, confidence, your digestion, breathing and even your productivity and appearance. In this first post of three we we look at the influence of poor posture on back and neck pain and injury. In further posts we will look at the effect on Mood, Memory, Stress, Confidence and Appearance and in the final post we will look at poor posture’s effect on Breathing, Digestion and Productivity.
Preventing lower back pain, neck pain or injury
One of the most common postures adopted by society on a daily basis is that of sitting. Furthermore, a large portion of these students and workers also spend long periods of time sitting at home using an array of electronic devices. This does not take into account that we spend even more time in our daily lives sitting in cars, sitting to eat meals, sitting in front of the television etc.
The human body was not designed to sit for long periods of time. Consequently, poor sitting posture is endemic to the world population. Long periods of sitting in a poor position will effectively de-condition an individual’s body and is detrimental to their muscle balance and spinal stability over time.
Research has shown that prolonged sitting, in combination with awkward postures, increases the likelihood of lower back pain. The Global Burden of Disease Study (2013) found that lower back pain is the most common cause of disability and neck pain is the fourth most common cause. In fact some studies state that a staggering 80% of us will suffer for lower back pain at some point in our lives!
The two most frequently cited risk factors for lower back pain from occupational sitting are prolonged sitting still and reduced lumbar lordosis (curve). A study by Caneiro, et al. (2010) also showed that slumped sitting was associated with greater head and neck flexion, and increased muscle activity of the muscles at the back of the neck (cervical erector spinae).
Multiple studies have found an association between lower back pain and poor work posture, including studies by Nowotny et al. (2011), Wong et al. (2009), Tissot et al. (2009), Maria et al. (2006), Burdorf et al. (1993), and Keyserlinga et al. (1988). This most likely happens because the lumbar curve becomes reversed from a lordosis (curve inwards) to a kyphosis (curve outwards) when you slouch. This is well known to contribute to the progressive degeneration of spinal structures such as intervertebral disc and also abdominal and lower back muscle weakness causing the development of lower back pain.
One of the most frequent causes of neck pain is extending the head and shoulders too far forwards (forward head posture). The head is heavy, weighing around 10 pounds and its weight in a forward position, can with time, strain the small facet joints in the neck plus the ligaments and soft tissues. In some cases this can lead to more serious problems in later life such as degenerative disc disease. This position is usually accompanied by a rounded upper back and forward reaching shoulders, causing shoulder pain as well as further aggravating the neck problem.
Friction et al (1991) found that out of 164 patients with muscular pain, 96% had poor sitting and standing posture, 84.7% had forward head posture, and 82.3% had rounded shoulders. 68-100% of people with shoulder joint problems have a poor shoulder blade positioning and control due to poor shoulder posture.
Many of us also stand with incorrect posture, either slouching our shoulders and curving our backs, swaying our hips forward, sticking our bottoms out, standing with all our weight on one leg or standing with a flat back. All of these can lead to long term lower back discomfort and problems.
Because prolonged sitting and standing is still an unfortunate necessity in many vocations we need to minimize the negative impact that prolonged posture. The start point is simple – If you sit, sit well. If you stand, stand well. If you walk on a treadmill, don’t do it in high heels. In addition, regular breaks can offset the effects of prolonged postures, particularly sitting.
Close your eyes and picture two people, one standing up straight and one slouching. Which one do you think is more successful? Appearances can be deceiving, but first impressions last a long time. When you meet some new, the first impression you give them is your appearance. And that impression influences everything else you say and how that person interacts with you.
In fact, within the first six second of meeting someone, they have already formed an opinion of you. So your posture is the foundation of your body language, and often dictates how you will be perceived by others immediately. Standing up straight exudes confidence and strength, it makes you look taller and more successful when you sit and stand tall. When you slouch you let your guts hang out and you look heavier than you really are. Being upright forces you to pull everything up and in, and in turn you look thinner. Slouching also gives the impression of weakness,uncertainty, laziness, apathy, and disrespect, among other negative attitudes.
So goes the saying, fake it till you make it! If you have good posture you’ll not only look better, you’ll feel better too because you’re healthier from the inside out! The problem is, how do you become more aware of your posture and once you realize you’re slouching, how do you fix it?
So That’s why we developed PROMETHEUS!
Designed by leading Physical Therapists, PROMETHEUS is a software solution that utilizes real time posture analytics via your webcam to improve your health, happiness and wellbeing – preventing pain and injury, to help optimize overall health. PROMETHEUS will also prompt you to take regular breaks from sitting or standing and alert you if you slip into poor posture habits for too long or if your blink-rate slips below optimal. A customized report is then produced so that you can track your progress. PROMETHEUS works to make you healthier while you work and play!