Poor body mechanics can often be the cause of back problems. When we do not move correctly, the spine is subjected to excessive stresses that over time can lead to degeneration of the spinal discs and joints. Before this happens, spinal joints become stiff (dysfunctional) and tender due to the strain they are subject to.
It is easy to get into bad habits in terms of posture, especially when sitting down. We tend to spend prolonged periods of time seated whether it is at work, while travelling and when relaxing. Being aware of your posture during all daily activities ensures you are using good body mechanics. Good posture minimizes the stress and strain of muscles and distributes your weight correctly through the body framework. Posture also affects how the body functions including circulation, respiration and digestion.
The circulation of fluids in the body is less efficient when we are less active and suffer from stiffness within the joints. Blood, lymph, synovial and spinal fluid circulation are necessary to keep all aspects of the body healthy.
Respiration and Oxygenation
Shallow breathing strains the lungs and taxes the heart as it is forced to speed up to provide enough blood for oxygen transport. Good posture allows us to sit taller, with an open chest and breathe better. Not only is this beneficial to every cell in the body, it also makes us feel good, with better energy levels and a clear head.
Sitting with hunched shoulders can lead to sluggish digestion, as your intestines are folded up. Sluggish digestion leads to constipation, bloating and possible toxic build up .
As an Osteopath I see and feel the effects of poor posture on the spine and soft tissues. Common examples of this includes:
- Shortened muscles at the front of the neck and chest
- Dysfunction (stiffness) to the joints at the base of the neck and top of the upper back
- Midback Kyphosis, which is stiffness and forward rounding of the mid thoracic spine, with tender surrounding soft tissues
- Anterior tilt of the pelvis
- Shortened anterior hip muscles
- Dysfunction to the lower lumbar facet joints
- Tight hip rotator muscles
Using soft tissue release and stretch techniques, the tight shortened tissues of the neck can easily be treated. Combine this with gentle joint release and mobilization to the lower neck and upper back, osteopathic treatment can enable a person with poor sitting posture to sit up straight and comfortably.
As a result, stresses and strain on joints, ligaments, discs and muscles will be alleviated, and symptoms of neck, shoulder, back pain and headaches will be significantly eased if not eliminated completely.
Simple, specific home exercises to maintain mobility and strength to these regions of the body, will ensure continuing health to the spine and muscles, as well as postural ergonomic advice.