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Poor Posture

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Do you have back pain or do you know someone who suffers with back pain, maybe a loved one, family member, friend, or coworker? Back pain can be anywhere from minimal to severe and normally progresses over time. If back pain is left untreated it can normally progress into debilitating, unbearable pain that not only is physical but also projects itself outward through the persons attitude and behavior. This regrettably has an impact on social situations including job performance, family obligations and physical hygiene and appearance. Back pain is a symptom that is indicative of an underlying problem.

Unfortunately there can be any number of problems that could be causing your back problems. The most common cause of back pain is an injury to a muscle or ligament. This type of injury is called either a sprain or a strain. Again there are multiple reasons that a muscle or ligament can become sprained/strained such as a sports injury, an auto accident, and a slip and fall. These are all traumatic type injuries that can cause trauma to muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and organs potentially.  However, normal everyday reasons for sprains and strains include improper lifting, excess body weight and poor posture. These causes of back pain are avoidable and preventable; it just takes proper body mechanics and ergonomics to do so.

            Excess body weight, improper lifting and poor posture put abnormal stresses on the spine, which causes the muscles and ligaments to pull. Abnormal stress can build up overtime and cause structural changes within the spine such as lengthening and shortening of muscles, wear and tear of cartilage and degeneration of disks and joints. It’s these structural problems that lead to symptoms of pain, tenderness, numbness, aching, burning, tingling, spasming and many more. Symptoms can come on immediately or gradually, starting as a sore muscle, or a stiff joint. In some occasions muscle knots appear or muscles go into spasm. Most often than not a muscle spasm is what puts someone out of commission.

            To avoid and prevent this painful process it is important to make smart choices and changes to your lifestyle. Excess body weight is not only physically unattractive, but it can cause potentially life threatening diseases, disorders and structural damage. Extra weight has been proven a leading factor in heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, asthma, and several other life altering diseases. Although, this is just half of the problem. Excess weight puts addition pressure on the curvature of the spine. As weight bears down on the spine, vertebra becomes misaligned, nerves get pinched, and discs space is decreased. This can ultimately lead to additional problems such as disc bulging, herniation, protrusion or slipped disc.

            So to avoid these injuries to the spine and to keep excess weight off, it is important to exercise. In addition to managing weight, exercise keeps the muscles strong, the heart healthy, and the body functioning properly. Strong muscles keep bones, ligaments and tendons in place and reduce the risk of injury.

            However, proper posture and proper ergonomics are important even if you aren’t overweight.  Most people have poor posture. Poor posture can cause spinal pain, make existing pain worse, and make pain last longer. Normal posture requires shoulders to be back, chin parallel with the floor, chest out, head in alignment with the neck, and hips over your heels. Good posture shows because it retains 3 natural curves in the spine, a small hollow at the base of the neck, a mild roundedness at the mid back and a small hollow at the low back. Most people slouch or bend too far forward or lean too far back, with their shoulders rounded forward, chin down, neck forward, upper back rounded, buttocks out and too large of curve in the low back. This type of posture or any other type of bad posture will cause injury and ultimately pain to the body. In addition to back pain, poor posture can cause headaches, neck pain, extremity pain, numbness, tingling, shoulder pain, and mid back pain. you can see how posture plays a role in maintaining a pain free spine, however proper posture needs to be maintained from one position to the next.

            Our days are a scramble of waking up getting ready for work, sitting in front of a computer or at a desk all day, driving home and sitting on the couch watching TV until its time to go to bed. When people have hours of sedentary activity they tend to forget about proper posture. Therefore they relax and sit back in their chair rather than sitting up or instead of using their abdominals to propel themselves up from a seated position, they use the desk to brace themselves until their legs can properly balance and hold the body upright. Using the proper muscles when changing positions whether it be lifting a box off of the ground, or standing up from a seated position is important to maintain proper spinal stability and to avoid risk for injuries.

            Since bending and lifting are part of normal everyday activities, you would think that people would be able to properly execute these actions without injury. However, nine times out of ten someone injures their back through improper bending or lifting activities. It is commonly referred to as twinging, twisting, popping or back spasms. This is the muscle finally going into spasm after several times of bending and lifting without the proper technique. People need to move something and without any thought or plan they try to move something that is double their weight, or perhaps is smaller in weight but on the ground and the force of trying to lift the object with their back instead of their legs, abdominals or the accurate stance can cause their back to become injured. Proper lifting requires that the weight of the object be distributed evenly throughout the body with the knees bent. If the object is heavier than the person trying to lift it more than one person is recommended to move it.

            Although, these three areas seem trivial, by monitoring your weight, posture and lifting techniques you can avoid serious injury. By preventing injury to your spine you can steer clear of painful symptoms that not only affect your back but your entire body and your ability to move. Remember you don’t want to get to the point where you are having pain; you want to stop it from happening.