Have you just had a few weeks off work and gone back to work? Has this resulted in back pain?
Don’t think that you are alone. Many patients we see have this occurrence following a nice relaxing holiday – a period of de-conditioning!
Some forget that we aren’t designed to sit for 5 days straight for about 7 hours a day, however in some effect this is conditioning. The autocorrection of posture one does when that hot spot between your shoulder blades and spine starts to become irritable is a repetition of strength to hold upright.
The 33 vertebral bones act as the support mechanism and when the musculature infrastructure fails and leads to pain and movement dysfunction to assist the suspension the force load increases. Effectively if the San Francisco bridge didn’t have it’s support cables the bridge itself would not be able to handle the wind, rain and heat conditions day in day out.
The cervical spine can sustain 120 to 1200 N of force however in ex-vivo experiments buckles at 10N1. So, what does this say? The load carrying capacity is strongly influenced by the strength of the muscles surrounding the neck.
With the most common position of the neck in sitting being poked chin, we continually place our neck and thoracic spine into a flexed position. As we do this the soft tissue load increases. This redistribution of load onto muscles that aren’t conditioned to the sustained load leads to dysfunction.
Trigger points are some of the most common pathologies that physiotherapists treat. In turn this leads to stiffening of the facet joints and vertebral bodies due to the contracture implied on them.
Some strategies physiotherapists use to assist with improving posture:
Everyone has different forms of posture. Lordotic, kyphosis, swayback, posterior tilt, anterior tilt. Physiotherapy addresses your individual posture as your shape is individual to you.
Listen to how your symptoms react. Do they increase after lunch when muscle fatigue is more prevalent? Listen and re-adapt. Physiotherapists assist with load management.
It isn’t always possible to sustain constant excellent form. Regular correction of form can be required. Reassess your pelvic form & position, weight bearing position on your feet (standing and sitting), and lengthen your spine up towards the sky.
Strengthening exercises, remembering sound posture is an exercise, are important to desensitize and load the muscles to handle the repetitive sustained posture required for most office workers.
Load Management. As per the strengthening exercises – it isn’t always about doing large loads in small reps. Remember at least 7 hours of sitting, 5 days per week equals a lot of low load repetitions.
Patwardhan et al, 2000. Load-carrying capacity of the human cervical spine in compression is increased under a follower load. Spine; Jun 15;25(12):1548-54
Author: Bobbie-Jo Strong; Principal Physiotherapist at Pivotal Motion Physiotherapy
Posture is important & Pivotal Motion Physiotherapy has been helping Newmarket, Alderley, Ashgrove and the surrounding community with back problems for years. Call us today 07 3352 5116 or click here to book online.