Evaluate Yourself Right Now:
- Are your feet flat on the floor, with your knees at a 90-degree angle?
- Are your buttocks, back, and shoulders up against the backrest of your chair?
- Does the chair you’re sitting in provide enough lumbar support? Does the backrest fit into the natural curve of your spine?
- Are your shoulders relaxed and even, not hunched in a forward position?
- Is your body weight equally distributed across both hips?
- Are your knees level with or slightly higher than your hips?
If you answered “No” to any of these questions, you are probably exerting undue stress on your spine; this will eventually cause back and/or neck pain.
So many people today work in sedentary jobs that require them to sit for most of the workday. However, whether sitting at a desk, a football game, or in front of a television set, good posture is imperative to your spinal health.
Upper Crossed Syndrome
Upper Crossed Syndrome occurs when the muscles of the neck, shoulders, or chest are deformed due to improper use or poor posture. These muscles become constricted and tightened while the surrounding counter muscles become weak and underutilized.
The injured person will develop painful trigger points to support or accommodate the spine. Meanwhile, the postural muscles will develop scar tissue to repair the damage. The person will feel some relief as the trigger points reduce in size. However, the new scar tissue is not as flexible, so he will have a limited Range Of Motion. This limitation will produce the following symptoms:
- Decreased nerve stimulation to the brain
- Altered posture
- Loss of spinal disc fluids, which is the onset of degenerative joint disease (DJD)
- Due to altered posture and DJD, the process slowly worsens, and the person usually assumes the aches and pains are a natural result of aging.
- Postural changes change the plane of motion in pelvis and shoulders
- The plane of motion changes affect the muscles in which they change their sequence of firing (involuntary/uncontrollable movement)
- This irregular muscle movement/ sequence can cause muscle loss in some cases and overuse (trigger points) in others.
People with Upper Crossed Syndrome can feel the following symptoms: headaches, limited range-of-motion, stiff neck/back, deformed shoulders (hunched forward), strain on the back of the neck, jaw pain, pain in sitting (including watching TV and driving), lower back pain, numbness/tingling in upper arms.
When people have Upper or Lower Crossed Syndrome, their problem has progressed to the point that their muscles are firing incorrectly. These people need to be treated immediately to avoid further (and possibly permanent) damage.
If a person has trigger points but no Upper/Lower Crossed Syndrome, it is necessary that he receive treatment immediately before treatment becomes more difficult and expensive.
What Ergonomics Can Do for You
There are several things you can do to prevent painful results from poor posture and Upper Crossed Syndrome. The best way is to limit the amount of time in positions where the head is stretched forward.
Ergonomics play a significant part in treatment. Ergonomic instruments are items that remove risk factors for musculoskeletal injuries. They aid in proper muscle performance and provide pain relief. Ergonomics can reduce the cost of treatment and future health-related issues.
Frequently, we provide our patients with DMEs (Durable Medical Equipment) as part of their treatment to use at home or whenever they are away from the medical office. This allows for correction to take place outside of the clinic and for treatment to become more effective.
Avoid the “Text Neck”
Think about the position most people use while texting. Although this position is common, this repetitive forward position can have lasting effects. By tilting the head forward and down, this can cause the user to experience neck, shoulder, and upper back pain and stiffness, as well as headaches, muscular weakness, and radiating pain. These are just some symptoms of serious problems including arthritis, spinal degeneration, disc compression, lung capacity loss, etc.
A 15-degree tilt of the head places 27 lbs of force on the neck. The further the head tilt, the greater the force on the neck. When the head is tilted 60 degrees forward, it results in 60 lbs of force.
You can improve your posture naturally through preventative measures, such as holding the phone correctly, chiropractic care, exercise, stretches, ice/heat packs, massage, and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle. Ask us for more tips on your next visit.