Office workers would be foolish not to understand the negative impact sitting for extended periods of time has on your postural health. Unfortunately, many office workers have no option and must sit for most of their working day, or at least for a portion it.
The short-term trend is for workers to initially exhibit better posture at the start of the day. As muscular fatigue develops during this working day, poor posture often sets in. However, in the long term, as bad postural habits continue to develop, the worker assumes a poor posture at the start of the day and it stays.
The common problem associated with excessive sitting is postural slouching and rounding of the shoulders. This excessive forward curvature of the spine is known as thoracic kyphosis and typically develops over months to years. It will often coincide with a compensatory increased lumbar lordosis which is excessive curvature of the lumbar spine and a forward head carriage .
Symptoms of Postural Dysfunction?
Painful conditions associated with poor posture are so common that most people have some firsthand knowledge of these problems. Low back pain is the most frequent complaint but research shows neck, shoulder and arm pain has become increasingly widespread because of postural dysfunction. Many workers may not experience any symptoms at all.
Why does this develop?
In simple terms, we are not designed to sit for extended periods of time. Our muscular systems, particularly around the trunk, are largely responsible for holding our body in this upright sitting posture. But these muscular systems cannot sustain the prolonged contractions required to maintain this upright posture all day. Muscle fatigue eventuates and so does this postural slumping of the spine. Our ligamentous system which tightly holds all the bones together, will initially prevent further slumping. However, long term stress on these spinal ligaments will create further problems called tissue ‘creep’ or elongation. This process of ligament stretching will lead to calcification or hardening of the ligaments. Sadly, the result is joint fusion and permanent postural dysfunction which cannot be reversed.
Contributing factors to Postural Dysfunction
• Lack of education or awareness of correct posture
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Occupational demands
• Inherent joint stiffness
• Decreased fitness
• Muscle weakness
• Muscle tightness
• Poor core stability
• Poor ergonomic work-stations
Chiropractic Treatment of Posture Dysfunction
Treatment may significantly help to minimize, if not eliminate, postural dysfunction. Most patients will experience decreased pain once their posture is corrected.
Chiropractic treatment may include:
• Assessment and diagnosis of postural habits
• Postural education
• Joint manipulative techniques
• Soft tissue massage
• Various exercises relating to spinal strength and flexibility
• Activity modification advice
• Advice regarding ergonomic work stations