Posture, the Source of Pain


Posture, the Source of Pain by Douglas Bauer, D.O. June 2017

Posture could be the root of your pain.  Low back pain, upper back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, elbow pain, wrist pain, ankle pain, headaches.  You get the point.  Especially in young patients and working adults, poor posture can cause significant nagging pain. 

The good news is you can identify poor posture and teach yourself to fix the pain.

Question: What do we do most of the day that causes poor posture?  

Answer: We drive to work, at work we hop on a computer or at a factory; reach out in front of you to grab whatever you are working on.  Some of us exercise and of course we do not stretch.  Once the workday is over, we then sit on the couch and watch TV.  

Question: What do all of these activities have in common?  

Answer: Bad posture. Rounded shoulders, neck often placed in flexion or extension but not at neutral. The upper back is usually hunched.  The low back is often pushed too far forward (hyperextended).  The hips and knees are bent when sitting for most of the day.  Usually the legs and hips are turned outward or crossed (externally rotated). 

Question: What muscle groups are affected by bad posture?

Answer: The pectorals and chest muscles are tight, rhomboids and upper back muscles are stretched.  The neck muscles are tight from trying to look at the computer or phone all day long.  The fronts of the hips and back of the legs are tight from sitting all day.  The external rotators of the hip are especially tight from sitting with the legs spread or crossed.  

Question: So what is the correct posture and what can you do to help?  

Answer: Take a look at these pictures to help see the difference in posture.  Then, next time you notice that you or someone else has poor posture as well as pain, make some corrections.  Sometimes maintaining a correct posture is all you need to feel better.

Christine Weeks