Posture in the Workplace
The type of workplace postural deficiencies one encounters is generally governed by their occupational stresses. Studies have shown that drivers of trucks and public transport vehicles are at greater risk of lower back and neck pain syndromes than clerical workers. While clerical workers who use a computer for extended periods are at greater risk of upper extremity and neck pain. Further studies have implicated poor sitting posture in the development and perpetuation of neck pain syndromes. While sitting for long periods without interruption with a poor posture has been shown to cause postural backache.
Causes of Poor Posture
Poor posture is the result of certain muscles tightening up or shortening while other muscles lengthen and become weak which often occurs as a result of one’s daily activities. There are however, other factors which can impact on posture and they include, other biomechanical factors such as force and repetition, but more importantly it also includes psychosocial factors such as job stress/strain. Workers who have higher job stress are more likely to develop neck and shoulder symptoms.
How Poor Posture can present
Poor posture can show up in a few different ways:
Poor Shoulder Posture
It can present with rounded and elevated shoulders and a push-forward head position. This position places stress on the spine between the top of the neck and skull and the base of the neck and upper shoulders. There is also a reduction in the stability of the shoulder blades resulting in changes to movement patterns of the upper extremities.
Poor Hip/Low Back Posture
It can also present with a forward tilting of the hips, an increase in the curve of the lumbar spine (lower back) and a protruding stomach. This position places stress over both the hip joints and lower back.
Poor posture can also result in spinal joint dysfunction as a result of these muscle changes.
Poor posture can be minimized and modified by following a few simple steps:
- Stretching those muscles that have become tight and strengthening the weakened muscles.
- Performing exercises specific to the area requiring attention. Studies show that people with chronic neck pain were able to maintain a neutral neck posture during prolonged sitting following intervention with a specific exercise program which hence helped to reduce the development and perpetuation of neck pain.
- Modifying one’s work station. Research shows that clerical workers who use computers can reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders of the neck and upper extremity by using wrist and forearm support.
- Avoid prolonged stationary periods by taking short breaks and stretching.
- Managing and reducing job strain and stress.
Chiropractic Care and Posture
Chiropractic care can help treat the spinal joint dysfunctions that can occur with poor posture. It is also beneficial for correcting the muscle imbalances through the use of Soft Tissue Therapy and Rehabilitative Exercises.
Connecticut Medical, Journal of Applied Ergonomics, Medycyna Pracy, Journal of Occupational Health (Japan), Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Journal of Physical Therapy, Journal of Manipulative and Physical Therapeutics, Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health