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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I fix my posture to reduce back and neck pain?

    I believe (and so do my parents) that my back and neck pain is due to poor posture. I slouch when sitting in a chair and I do not stand completely upright when standing. How can I fix my posture? It seems much easier and natural to continue sitting/standing the way I always have been.
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  • 3

    Thanks

    Dr Peter Dun

    Chiropractor

    Rehab - Sports - X-Ray - Standing MRI - Second Opinions. We provide strategies for chronic and more complex function problems to help restore active … View Profile

    It is certainly common for ongoing faults with a person’s posture to contribute to back and neck pain.  The longer one’s posture has been faulty, the more ‘natural’ it may feel since the spine and other parts of the body frame have typically adapted to certain positions that are repeated regularly.  Therefore, the time it takes to change things for the better will tend to correspond with how long a person’s posture has not been ideal, along with the particular type of posture faults.  Fortunately, with some motivation to improve one’s postures during various daily activities, lasting changes can often be made that result in a reduction of posture-related pain. 
     
    So, what are some practical healthy habits worth being reminded of:

    • When sitting, choose a chair that has adequate cushioning and support to hold your weight properly.
    • Sit and set up your seat in such a way that it is easier to sit upright, without slouching.
    • Sleep on a firm, but comfortable mattress so that your body is supported in a level position – where your shoulders and hips adequately depress into the mattress.
    • Sleep on your back or side with your legs slightly bent and perhaps a pillow between your knees.  Avoid tummy sleeping with your head turned to one side.
    • Your pillow should be neither too high nor too low.
    • Avoid sleeping when sitting in an upright chair or in cramped positions.
    • When reading, avoid having a forward head posture; instead, alter the position of the book, handheld electronic device, computer screen, etc..
    • Stand and walk in a ‘lengthened’ manner, with relaxed shoulders.  Imagine a piece of string attached to the top of your head, gently pulling you up to be taller.

    Despite a person’s best attempts, unfortunately some problems can still exist, which benefit from particular health care practitioner assistance.  Manual clinical procedures and customised exercises can often help to manage pain due to certain posture problems that are beyond an individual’s self-care ability and/or conscious control.

  • Jodie Krantz

    Physiotherapist, Pilates Instructor

    As a Physiotherapist for many years, I have a special interest in managing chronic and recurrent pain using exercise. Our small team of Physiotherapists are … View Profile

    Dr Peter Dunn has given some excellent tips on improving your posture in standing, sitting and lying. The difficulty remains that it's often hard to maintain good posture, because as soon as you stop thinking about it consciously, the old habits and muscular patterns take over. Sitting or standing up straight may feel like a huge effort because of muscle imbalances which have developed. One reason it may feel so hard is that your muscles could be working against other muscles or soft tissue that have become tight.  To bring about a longer term change what may really help is to:

    • Stretch and lengthen muscles which have become shortened
    • Strengthen and improve the endurance of muscles which have become weak with disuse
    • Learn to more clearly sense when your body is in good alignment (and when it's not)
    Clinical Pilates and the Feldenkrais Method are two excellent approaches to improving your posture and body awareness.

  • 2

    Thanks

    Dr Ryan Hislop

    Chiropractor

    Ryan Hislop is the Clinical Director at the Mudgee Chiropractic Health and Wellness Centre. As an experienced and evidence-based diagnostician, Ryan works largely by medical … View Profile

    The above posts highlight the importance of self management in postural improvement. Unfortunately, if these techniques are unable to fully contain the aforementioned symptoms and posture continues to fail when not thinking of it, seeking the passive care from a professional may be warrented.

    Posture is a mechanism that is regulated from an area in the brain known as the brainstem. Interestingly, posture is like breathing (which is also regulated in the brainstem). You can consciously over ride the “default” pattern of posture and breathing…although there is also an unconsious “default” that exists. Either the exercises have to be regular enough that this default changes to the new desired pattern, or specialised techniques from your practitioner can over ride this default to “reprogram/repattern” your posture.

    In our practice we utilise software such as posture pro to monitor the changes in posture. It is very rewarding to see the results in front of you when you achieve these improvements.

  • 1

    Thanks

    Sandra McFaul

    Physiotherapist

    Do you suffer from chronic lower back pain or neck pain? Based in SYDNEY, Sandra is 1 of ONLY 15 Physiotherapists in Australia with ADVANCED … View Profile

    You are right…. it is much easier to slouch.  But unfortuantely if you have pain when doing this it's bodies way of saying that it's not right position.  Just give it a go for abit…if it feels better then you will be more motivated to sit abit better. 

    I know your paretns may be nagging, but only you can decide that you've had enough of the pain.  Remember, pain is a warning sign, it you don't listen to it, it may get worse to get your attention. 

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