275 Madison E 40th St.

Contact: 212-986-3888

275 Madison E 40th St.

Contact: 212-986-3888

It’s one of those things passed on from parent to child without even thinking. I’ve even found myself saying it. “Sit up straight… Don’t slouch.” My kids hate it as much as I did when I was young, but over the years I’ve seen there’s more than a little truth to this age-old nag.

Bad posture alone doesn’t cause severe back pain , and the kind of sloping, slouching, shoulder droop my kids sometimes exhibit as they’re sitting in front of the computer isn’t going to land them directly in the emergency room, but it’s bound to have an impact on their musculoskeletal systems.

“Everyone can benefit from good posture,” says our medical director Dr. Kessler . “Poor positioning of the body can be improved and it’s never too late to start trying to correct postural problems.”

The spine is a complex arrangement of bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, discs, a spinal cord and nerves. In a healthy spine the vertebrae, facet joints and discs are vertically stacked, held together by a system of ligaments that help support the alignment while allowing movement within a safe range. Comprised of three natural curves that form an S-shape, the spine is properly aligned when a person’s ears, shoulders, and hips are in a straight line. Without support from strong, flexible muscles, the back loses its three natural curves.

When poor posture sets in, muscles, joints and ligaments take more stress and strain than intended, causing fatigue, muscular strain, compression of blood vessels, and pain. In addition, faulty posture can affect the position and function of major organs.

Time, old injuries and bad habits take their toll on the spine as a person ages. But new treatments and better diagnostic tests can help keep back pain at bay throughout an entire lifetime.

“The spine goes through the aging process just like any other part of the body,” says Dr. Kessler. “For patients with a history of back pain who are currently experiencing symptoms that are interfering with activities, the first step is proper diagnostic testing to determine the cause of the symptoms and the severity of problem. A series of imaging tests over a period of time can help determine the correct course of treatment.”

Computer use is one of the common causes of difficulties related to posture and positioning. One of the first things that happens with computer use is the user’s head starts to move forward. Once the head moves forward, posture is thrown off and the body compensates for the shift. The neck moves forward, the shoulders become rounded and a compensatory sway in the back develops. The result of this poor posture is pain , muscle aches, tension and headaches.

Unfortunately, many of us adopt these habits in a whole variety of everyday positions – not only sitting at a desk, but also standing, walking, carrying things, even lying in bed. High heeled shoes, boots, tight clothing and wide belts can also shift our center of gravity and move us out of normal alignment.

Treatment goals for correcting postural problems include restoring range of motion, increasing flexibility and strengthening weak muscles. These goals can be accomplished through exercises and practice. Muscle relaxation techniques, massage and stretching exercises are also used to relieve pain and muscle tension.

“Of all the things that happen to our body,” Dr. Kessler says, “poor posture is one of the easiest to correct.”

Try telling that to my kids.

Labels: back pain , muscular strain , musculoskeletal systems , posture

Posted by Spine and Sports Medicine on 8:56 AM

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