The problem with postural stress

The problem with postural stress

“Body stressors, such as sitting too much, not moving enough and poor posture may not be very big on their own,” reveals physiotherapist, Anna-Louise Bouvier, creator of the Happy Body at Work program. “But collectively, it can lead to headaches, neck tension, back aches, fatigue, weight gain, digestive problems and even constipation.” She believes it’s important to recognise the signals from your body that it’s overloaded. “Once you recognise these signals, you can use strategies to release some of the load before it becomes a problem.” Signs of stress vary. It could be headaches, mouth ulcers, cold sores, back pain or an upset stomach that can also affect your mood. “Many people find they just feel tired and as though they are getting by on a half flat battery.” Small changes such as sitting less and moving more reduces fluctuations in blood glucose levels giving you more energy. The problem is that poor posture has become normalised.

Spinal and orthopedic surgeon, Dr Ken Hansraj, measured the impact of the typical posture when writing a text message on a phone. The weight of the average adult’s head is 5 kilograms but when it is tilted forward, its weight increases placing greater pressure on the neck. A 30-degree tilt of the head is the equivalent of holding 40 pounds – or 18 kilos — of weight. Hansraj believes it could lead to “early wear, tear, degeneration and possibly surgeries.” It is types of postural stress like this that contributes to chronic pain conditions and is something we are very concerned with at SHDC.

What can you do to alleviate postural stress?

  • Build sustainable, realistic and achievable exercise routines in to your day that can be part of your life without injuring yourself. We work with Personal Trainers who can design a program for exercise and nutrition.
  • Review your breathing. We work with Respiratory Physiologists dealing with dysfunctional breathing. We also have a home based breathing retraining program.
  • Review your sleeping posture. Lying on your back is the ideal sleeping position. Sleeping on your stomach places undue stress and strain on your jaw, neck and lower.
  • Review your working posture. We often spend most of our time sitting at a desk throughout the week and this can place repetitive stress on your neck, shoulders and lower back. Be mindful not to let yourself slouch while using the computer and ensure the items you need to perform your job are within ergonomic distance.
  • Review your foot structure. Our bodies are quite good at compensating for poor foot placement in the short time, however this compensation can alter the balance in your foot structure and predispose you to on-going back problems. We work closely with podiatrists, osteopaths, chiropractors, physiotherapists, craniosacral therapists and body workers.

For more information on stressors we are concerned with at SHDC click here.