Posture and Back Pain
Back pain – we see it here at BCNC every day. Did you know that up to 80% of Australians will experience back pain at some point in their lives? I think its due time for people to start making a change in order to avoid becoming a statistic!
Back pain can be related to many different factors, some of which include family history, weight, occupational factors, and level of physical fitness. For this blog, we’re going to tackle posture: how it can affect you, and how you can make a difference.
Posture can be defined as the way a person positions their body and limbs in space. Poor posture can place an increased amount of stress on postural muscles and the joints of the body. Over time prolonged poor posture may lead to headaches, back pain, and more severe conditions with the spine.
The biggest problem is that posture is a habit; and unlike other habits (clean eating, exercise, etc.) people generally place posture as a very low (if not non-existent) priority. The human body is adaptive, and over time it may begin to recognise your poor posture as “normal posture”.
Let’s perform a test. Sit up straight and pull your shoulders back. If this is more uncomfortable or painful than sitting slouched with your shoulders rolled forward, something is not quite right. The good news - this can be corrected. We just have to prioritise our bad postural habits, be proactive, and make a change!
One simple exercise to perform in order to improve upper back (thoracic) posture is a chest stretch. Often we develop rounded shoulders as we generally work with our arms outstretched; and our pectoral muscles become tight and shortened. Inversely, the muscles between our shoulder blades which function to hold our shoulders back are weak, and become lengthened. This very common presentation can be described as upper cross syndrome, and can cause back pain.
To perform the stretch, all you need is a door (no excuses)! Simply stand in a doorway and have your arm in an L shape as shown in the photo below. Your shoulder and elbow should both be at a 90 degree angle. Now step straight through the door until you feel a muscle stretch (no pain) in your chest and shoulder muscles. This stretch will help to lengthen these tissues which are shortened in order to open your chest up and take some pressure off those weak muscles in your back.
Posture, like all habits, is something that needs to be a constant work in progress. Being proactive is the first step to better posture, a more neutral spine and less daily pain and discomfort! If you would like to have your posture assessed or would like to learn some more postural exercises, ask any of the health professionals during your next BCNC appointment. And remember- to keep the back pain away, use that door at least once a day!