As modern society forces us into more sedentary lifestyles, our collective posture has suffered as a result. While your mother may have chided you for slouching insofar as appearances were concerned, the problem runs far deeper than how you look. Pain in your back, neck, and other areas can be created and exacerbated by poor posture.
As pain management specialists, we offer a wide variety of treatments to make you more comfortable, but there’s much you can do on your own. To that end, our team here at Advanced Spine Care and Pain Management is discussing posture with the hopes that you can make a few adjustments.
Spreading out the workload
To better understand how poor posture can lead to pain, let’s tackle this from the opposite side of the equation by explaining how good posture helps your body. Posture mostly comes down to the position of your spine — at all times, including when you’re sitting, standing, or sleeping.
The best position for your spine is one in which the weight is evenly distributed so that no single area is overpressured. When your spine is straight or neutral, you not only equalize the pressure on your vertebrae, you spread out the workload to the tissues that support your spine, such as your muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
How bad posture affects your body
When you have bad posture, you’re likely overtaxing certain structures and tissues in your back and neck, causing them to weaken. Once weakened, these areas are more susceptible to damage, degeneration, and pain.
Just as poor posture places more pressure on certain tissues, it reduces the pressure on those that were designed to handle more. This effect can lead to tighter and shorter soft tissues in your spine, leaving you more prone to stiffness and soreness.
While we’re concentrating on the spine, which can directly lead to back and neck pain, the effects of poor posture are far greater as many of the major joints in your body can be influenced by poor posture, such as your hips and knees. Ultimately, poor posture may create more wear and tear in your joints and encourage arthritis.
Achieving good posture
As we mentioned, posture applies to sitting, standing, and sleeping, so let’s take a look at the ideal positions for each.
When you’re seated, keep your shoulders back and your eyes straight forward and level. Place both feet flat on the floor and resist the urge to cross your legs. Now, sit as straight as you can at the edge of your seat, arch your back slightly, and then release your spine just a little bit (about 10%) to achieve a good neutral sitting position.
If you spend a lot of time standing, keep your feet on even surfaces and your shoulders back. You should also stretch your spine from time to time and take a few breaks to lie or sit down to give your spine a break.
The best possible position for your spine when you sleep is a neutral one, which can be achieved with a good, firm mattress. Avoid sleeping on your stomach and try to stick to your back or side. You’d also do well to use a flatter pillow that doesn’t lift your head too high.
There are many more tips for great posture, and we’re happy to share them with you. We promise that a little attention to your posture may help go a long way toward avoiding pain.
To learn more about the relationship between posture and pain, contact the friendly office staff at one of our offices in Hartsdale or Staten Island, New York.