Is Bad Posture Really Bad?
When you look around at people in the office all you see is people slouched at their desk staring at the computer. Everybody always drills into us that we need to sit up and have perfect posture, but why?
There is no evidence that perfect posture eliminates all pain, and there is no evidence that a strong correlation exist between pain and “bad” posture. Don’t let people dictate how you want to sit/stand throughout your day because lets be honest, you have made it this far through life sitting that way. So good on you, right?
What is important is the amount of time you spend at your desk or workstation. So lets delve into the reasons that you shouldn’t worry too much about a certain static “perfect” posture and just listen to your body a little more.
First lets get into the evidence as to the myths of posture and how it can predict or is correlated to pain. There is often no or very poor research results that correlate pain and posture (Lederman, 2011). And trying to correct these posture related dysfunctions show no better results when compared to exercise, (Foster, 2018 O’Sullivan, 2016).
This also starts the fear mongering and fear avoidance in the general public who don’t know. People that think they are going to break down in pain and tissue damage if they don’t sit up straight and in perfect posture and then get the expensive brace that helps. Ergonomic programs do not reduce the risk of future neck pain, but exercise reduces the risk by 50% (Campos, 2018). There is no association of neck pain and “text neck” as assessed by Physical Therapists (Damasceno, 2018). Which means, people that always look down and with a forward head posture have no association with neck pain. Sitting at work is not associated with low back pain (Hartvigson, 2010).
This is all good news, but this does tell us that we underutilize a great tool of exercise to cope with the rigours of the day. If we all just moved a little more and got a bit of strength behind us we would all feel just a little better.
When people say they hold stress in their shoulders I will always try and talk them around to a different view. Is that stress in your body/shoulders or is it your body's way of saying my head is 7lbs and you haven’t gotten me strong enough to hold this up all day at this angle? For example, if you go to the gym and pick up a 7lbs weight and hold your arm out from your side for the same amount of time that you are sitting in that one position would your shoulder/arm be sore? I would think it will be, but we don’t call that stress so why do we have a different meaning for when this happens to our neck and upper shoulder?
If we do a little bit of strength training then the load that we put those muscle through will improve and be able to tolerate this more.
Just think of the cyclists in the tour de France that have to hold their head in a similar position for 6 hours. Do you think they workout? I would hope so.
So what do you need to do to keep out of our clinic and pain free and happy?
It’s easy. Be strong,
stay strong and healthy, sounds simple right? When I say this I don’t mean you need to look like Governor Arnold, everybody has their own strong and healthy body. You just need to do something and give yourself reasons to move more and exercise. If you like boot camps do it, if you like to run do that too. If you want help getting into something, come in and see us we can help.
Other simple things that can be done around the office drink a lot of water. It makes you get up for two reasons; you need to fill up the water bottle a lot (reusable ones are the best for the world) and it makes you pee.
Key take home points:
Listen to your body! If you’re restless and stressed, get up and walk around.
Stay strong! The stronger you are the more you are protected.
Forget the ergo assessment and sit in what works for you. Everybody is different and there is no perfect posture.
If you need help or just a little guidance in tailoring an exercise program to get you through your day please give us a shout! We'd be thrilled to see you.
Written by: Mat Thompson