Is Bad Posture Causing You Neck Pain? | Back In Motion

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Is Bad Posture Causing You Neck Pain?

Published: 22 October 2013 - Injury Treatment and Prevention, Pain Management, Physio Tips

Have you ever wondered why you get a sore neck and shoulders after a long day in the office? 

Usually this is caused by poor posture and a poorly setup workstation. Around 2.5million Australians experience activity-limiting neck pain each year, secondary to postural strain and poor ergonomics.

Bad posture of the middle back and shoulders can cause overactivity of your neck muscles, resulting in pain. When you slump, your upper back your chin will be pushed forward which causes your neck muscles to work in overload.

How bad posture causes heck pain

The averages Australia male’s head weighs 8 kilograms. This means the muscles in your neck carry a heavy weight, usually around 10% of your total body weight.

If your shoulders are slumped and your neck muscles are trying to hold an 8 kilogram load it’s little wonder that the long hours in front of a computer screen or driving are causing you pain.

85% of people experiencing their first episode of posture related neck pain will find it reoccurring within 5 years if not treated properly.

Unfortunately these people don’t take the steps to prevent neck pain all together.

How to assess posture

Here’s how to assess your posture, taken from Chapter 6 of Get Yourself Back In Motion:

Stand naturally (comfortably) with your back against the wall. Notice your position.

  • Does your head poke forward?
  • How much of your spine is in direct contact with the wall?
  • Can your shoulder blades (scapulae) feel the plaster?
  • What size gap is there in your lower back?
  • Can you fit the small of your hand neatly in it?
  • Do your buttocks and the back of your knees make contact with the wall? Where are your feet placed?

How to improve posture

After taking mental note of these positions, correct your posture by making the following adjustments:

  • Stand tall. Elongate. Imagine you are a marionette hanging from a piece of string. Feel your chest open and your body slim.
  • Keeping your chin horizontal with the floor, touch the wall with the back of your head.
  • Pinch your shoulder blades together without sticking your stomach out.
  • Flatten your stomach by tightening your abdominals, and close the gap in your lower back.
  • Position your heels against the wall and let your knees flex comfortably.

Having “reset” normal posture, try stepping away from the wall and holding this position. Does it feel uncomfortable or strange?

It’s possible you have not lived in this neutral static position for some time. Make an effort to “reset” like this a few times a day until you no longer need a wall as a reference point. 

With the right mixture of physiotherapy, ergonomic education and a structured stretching/exercise program from your local Back In Motion physio, you can avoid and treat posture related neck pain.

Charlotte Taylor - Physiotherapist, Back In Motion Bundall

Get Yourself Back In Motion was written by Back In Motion Health Group Founder and Physiotherapist, Jason Smith.