Written by Dr. Andrew Bakken
Sit up straight! How many times have you heard that from someone?
Ever wonder why some people think you should have better posture? In today’s increasingly technology-based world it seems that we are all spending more time sitting and looking at a computer screen, including our phones. This means increasingly more time with our heads down and forward. In fact, there is even new terminology developing in the medical communities such as “text neck” which is neck and upper back pain from prolonged time spent texting or watching our mobile screens.
How does having good or bad posture really affect us anyway?
When you spend time with your head forward and down it puts stress on the joints, muscles and tissues in the neck often resulting in neck pain, back pain, and headaches. There is evidence that suggests when you develop spine pain it will not go away on its own, and if you are a young person that develops spine pain you are much more likely to have pain when you are older.1 Neck and back pain are common in society and can lead to significant disabilities and economic losses.
Do an experiment.
Sit slouched with your shoulders rounded forward and your chin down towards your chest and take a deep breath, notice how it feels. Now, sit up straight with your shoulders back and your head up and take a deep breath. Wow, what a difference huh? Notice how much easier if is to breath when you have good posture. You are also better able to stabilize your spine during movement with good posture. Pain and injuries are less likely to happen when you are stable in your movements.
How we position ourselves also has effects on the brain, not only regarding joints and muscles but how we think and relate to different situations. Scientists have shown that when study participants are made to sit in an upright posture, they handle stressful tasks better, display higher self-esteem, have a better mood, and show lower fear compared to those in a slumped posture.2
What can we do?
- Start by making sure that you are practicing good upright posture while using your mobile device, hold it up in front of your face instead of looking down at it.
- Have an ergonomics assessment done of your computer station, simply raising the keyboard by a few inches and getting the screen a bit higher may make a world of difference.
- Get up from your computer and mobile device frequently to move around, set an alarm for every 30 minutes if that helps!
- Practice postural strengthening exercises, if you need some suggestions, check out our facebook page for a short video with some examples.
At Back-In-Action we are here to help you with treatment of symptoms, ergonomics, and exercises to strengthen your posture. My goal is to help you move better, feel better, heal better.
- The Course of Low Back Pain From Adolescence to Adulthood: Eight-Year Follow-up of 9600 Twins Hestbaek, Lise, DC, PhD*; Leboeuf-Yde, Charlotte, DC, MPH, PhD*; Kyvik, Kirsten Ohm, MD, PhD†; Manniche, Claus, Dr Med Sci*Author Information Spine: February 15, 2006 – Volume 31 – Issue 4 – p 468-472 doi: 10.1097/01.brs.0000199958.04073.d9
- Health Psychol. 2015 Jun;34(6):632-41. doi: 10.1037/hea0000146. Epub 2014 Sep 15. Do slumped and upright postures affect stress responses? A randomized trial. Nair S1, Sagar M2, Sollers J 3rd1, Consedine N1, Broadbent E1.