e) Posture Problems – discussed in previous sections

Poor posture can be the result of many factors. Below we explore some of the more common problems that can lead to poor posture:

Forward Head Posture

Forward Head Posture (FHP) can be recognised by the positioning of the ear being forward of the shoulder, rather than sitting directly over it. Poor neck posture leads to a Forward Head Position which is one of the most common causes of neck, head and shoulder tension and pain. This can be a result of long term habits of “slumping” at the computer, whilst driving, sitting poorly on the couch, or poor sleeping posture. These habits can be worsened if strains and sprains of the neck have occurred in the past which has weakened the neck muscles.

fhp3Imagine how uncomfortable it would be to hang a bowling ball around your neck. Well this is exactly what your body might be experiencing every day if you suffer Forward Head Posture.

For every inch your head posture sits forward, the head gains 4.5kgs (10 pounds) in weight. This forces the muscles in your upper back and neck to work much harder to keep the head (chin) from dropping forwards onto your chest. With your muscles in constant contraction to achieve this, pressure is added to the nerves at the base of the skull, which can cause headaches .

Forward Head Posture is a very common postural issue, and it is estimated to occur in between 66% and 90% of the population.

An increased forward head posture has been strongly associated with decreased respiratory muscle strength in patients, which canaffect the ability to breath andreduce lung capacity by as much as 30% .

Forward head posture has also been linked to tension-type headaches, with the degree of forward head posture having a direct correlation with duration and frequency of headaches, as well as increased blood pressure . Long term forward head posture leads to muscle strain, disc herniations, arthritis, pinched nerves and instability. Abnormal neck posture has also been associated with headaches, abnormal functions of the eyes and the ears, and psychological and mental disorders.

Awareness of the correct neck and shoulder posture is the first step toward correction. A great way to start correcting poor neck posture is throughexercises which are designed to help gain control over postural neck muscles which have become weak and fatigued over time.

Pelvis forward (increased Lordosis)

pelvisMost problems related to lordosis occur when the normal lordotic curve or sway is lost. This results in poor posture anda forward tilt of the pelvis.

When found in the lumbar spine, thepatient may appear swayback, with the buttocks more prominent, and in general an exaggerated posture. Lumbar lordosis can be painful, too, sometimes affecting movement.

The increased weight from carrying a child can pull your pelvis forward, increasing the curve to your lower back (or increased lordosis).

Any changes in the curves of the spine will cause some muscles to stretch and some muscles to shorten, contributing to instability in the spine.

This instability leads to chronic tension in certain muscle groups and increased strain on joints .

Round Shoulders

round-shouldersIt’s estimated that up to 73% of the population are affected by ‘round shoulder’ posture and common complaints resulting from this condition is an increased incidence of pain between the shoulder blades

Rounded shoulders are usually the result of slouching. Prolonged slouching can strain the muscles between the shoulder blades, causing upper back pain. When slouching, the natural forward curve of the neck is also exaggerated, which can also result in neck pain. It is more common to slouch when sitting. Slouching is often caused by fatigue, especially when sitting in front of a computer.

Round shoulder also compresses your diaphragm, which leads to shallow breathing. Proper posture allows proper breathing and sufficient oxygen intake. Getting enough oxygen helps to relax muscles and prevents stress from building up in the muscles, especially the muscles of the neck and back. Tense muscles are a common cause of back pain and neck pain

Slouching & Dowager’s Hump (increased kyphosis)

slouchThe most common symptoms for patients with an abnormal curve of the spine at the neck (increased kyphosis) are the appearance of poor posture with a hump appearance of the back, back pain, muscle fatigue, and stiffness in the back.  Some examples of increased kyphosis are Dowager’s Hump and Slouching. Slouching can also lead to Round Shoulders.

In more severe situations, the patient may notice their symptoms worsening with time. The kyphosis can progress, causing a more exaggerated hunchback. In rare cases, this can lead to compression of the spinal cord with neurologic symptoms including weakness, loss of sensation, or loss of bowel and bladder control. Severe cases of kyphosis in the thoracic (middle back) area can also limit the amount of space in the chest and cause cardiac and pulmonary problems leading to chest pain and shortness of breath

Uneven or Rotated Hips

unevenhips

Uneven Hips affects the pelvic, lumbar and thoracic areas of your spine.

Spending much of the day with yourlegs crossed can contribute to developing this condition, as can activities like carrying children on one hip, getting babies in and out of car seats, balancing shopping bags or carrying unbalanced loads in the garden.

Long term uneven hip posture can lead to muscle imbalances and stress on the lumbar spine, sacrum and pelvis.  Misalignments of the lumbar spine can affect the proper functioning of the nerves, which can lead to numbness, tingling and associated pain.  The lumbar nerves connect directly to vital organs , tissues and cells; like the bladder, kidneys, reproductive organs and the muscles and ligaments of the legs and feet. So it’s important to minimise and reduce stress to these areas of the spine for total well-being.

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