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Understanding Implications of Postural Stress and How to Fix it?

01 June 2023

A sedentary lifestyle is an epidemic today. Whether it's school, home, or work, people today are spend more time sitting than ever. The changing technology and work dynamics have resulted in a lifestyle where individuals are spending less time moving their bodies.

While a sedentary lifestyle may seem like a more comfortable living solution, however, this lifestyle can wreak havoc on your body and overall health and well-being. The stress associated with prolonged sitting not only contributes to poor posture but also leads to musculoskeletal injuries, strains of the neck, shoulder, arms, lower back, hips, and more.

In this post, we take a closer look at what posture and postural stress followed by a discussion that will allow you to understand the implications of postural stress. Finally, you will learn a few measures that will help you fix the implications of postural stress.



What is Posture?

Posture refers to the natural curvature of your spine which involves engagement of a range of muscle groups that allow you to stand or sit. Posture involves the musculoskeletal system including your spine and muscles that work together so your body can be aligned properly.

In a nutshell, posture is how you hold your body whether you are moving or when your body is at rest.

There are two types of postures

Dynamic posture and

Static posture.

Static posture refers to how you hold your body when your body is at rest such as when you're sitting, standing, or sleeping. On the other hand, dynamic posture refers to your body positioning as you move such as when walking, running, or bending over to pick up something.

Proper posture ensures that your body is well-supported and in a neutral position whether you're moving or at rest.

Modern-day posture that involves lack of movement, and imbalances in the body over time lead to the weakening and shortening of your muscles. As a result, the muscles get tight and do not work at the optimal level, and maintaining certain static and movement position require increased energy.

It's therefore important to remember that posture, good or bad, can have a direct impact on your overall health and well-being.

Let's explore the causes of poor posture along with the benefits of maintaining a good posture. The insight will help you better understand the implications of postural stress on your health so you can figure out how to fix the problem.



Causes of Poor Posture

There are several reasons why you may have poor posture. Some of these reasons include

Excessive or repetitive movement or injuries,

Lack of physical activity which has overtime weakened the muscles,

General injuries,

Genetic conditions,

Poorly designed workstations that do not support the posture while sitting or standing,

Prolonged use of screen while working or extensive use of smartphone or tablet,

Carrying heavy loads such as heavy school bags on one shoulder, or extra body weight, and

Untreated causes of fatigue.



Normal Sitting or Standing Posture

In order to understand the implications of postural stress, it's critical for you to understand what normal or ideal posture is. The human spine is made up of 33 vertebrae, which are stacked together to form the spinal column.

The combination of vertebrae along with supporting discs makes a spinal column that allows you to maintain the flexibility of the body as you move and transfer loads and distribute stress very efficiently.

A normal sitting or standing posture is one that allows you to maintain the natural curvature of the spine and ensures that your body is in a completely relaxed position.

When sitting, an ideal posture means your shoulders are relaxed and are slightly down, with your ears aligned with your shoulder by retracting your chin slightly. Moreover, the curves of your hips should be pushed back against the backrest so you can maintain a neutral spine in your low back. Furthermore, your knees should be at a right angle between your upper and lower legs with your arms supported by the armrest of an ergonomically designed chair.

When standing, a neutral position means that your feet are firmly placed on the floor and your hips are higher than your knees your spine maintains its natural curvature, and your shoulders and arms are fully relaxed. You can ensure that your body is in a neutral position by checking your side image in the mirror. If your legs are in a straight line with your core engaged and your spine maintaining its natural curvature, your body is in a neutral position.

Remember, a neutral position doesn't mean a straight posture. Instead, it means that the natural curvature of the spine is maintained.



Implications of Postural Stress

Poor posture is a major musculoskeletal concern as it places a lot of abnormal stress and strain on your entire musculoskeletal system including your joints, muscles, and nerves.

But what does poor posture do to your body? Let's find out.

Research shows that poor posture can lead to a wide range of physical and mental health conditions which are not limited to musculoskeletal concerns only.

Poor posture can have implications for your gastrointestinal system, muscles of your head, neck, and shoulders and can significantly increase the risk of lower back pain. Unaddressed postural stress can contribute to hip dysfunction, instability, knee pain, breathing issue, and osteoarthritis.

Let's look at some of the implications of postural stress.

Increased Risk for Neck, Shoulder and Arm Pain and, Headaches

The weight of an average person's head is between 10-12 lbs. which can be conveniently supported by the neck and shoulder muscles when proper posture is maintained. However, in case of poor posture, the muscles have to work harder because a forward head position actually makes your head heavier making it tougher for the neck muscles to support it.

Hence, you experience muscle strain which eventually irritates your nerves and joints causing neck, shoulder, and arm pain and frequent headaches.

Increased Risk for Low Back Pain and Herniated Disc

If you continue to sit in a slumped posture, the soft tissues (i.e. muscles, ligaments) of your spine adapt to the stress of being in a flexed posture for too long. The flexed position of the muscles strains your muscles, joints, and nerves making them more prone to irritation while increasing the risk of injuring your disc.

Increased Risk of Chronic Physical and Mental Health Conditions

When your body experiences persistent aches and pains, it can affect your focus and concentration. Moreover, it also hampers your sleep and quality of life. Overtime, chronic pain and discomfort can contribute to an increased risk of psychological concerns including depression and anxiety.



How to Fix Postural Stress?

Fortunately, it is possible to deal with the implications of postural stress by taking the following measures.

Focus on Your Posture

Whether you are standing, sitting, or sleeping, make sure you focus on your posture and maintain a good posture in every position. When you are sleeping, lying on your back makes the right position and minimizes stress on your body.

While standing ensure that your legs are in line and your spine maintains the natural spinal curvature. Moreover, when you are sitting, especially when you're spending a lot of time sitting at a desk throughout the week, be mindful of your posture. Avoid slouching yourself over the computer screen and ensure the items you frequently use while performing your job are within ergonomic distance.

To set up an ergonomic workstation, you can consider investing in a range of accessories including a monitor mount like Single Monitor Mount F7 by FlexiSpot that allows you to ergonomically position the screen of your computer. With an ergonomically positioned screen, you can maintain an appropriate distance from the screen while maintaining a good posture that will help you ease neck pain and discomfort associated with improper posture.

Find out more about this product here.

Take Regular Breaks

While maintaining good posture is important, you should also take regular breaks if your job requires you to spend long hours at the desk. Make sure you get up from your desk once every 30 minutes and get a quick walk to get your muscles moving so you can keep them in the right shape.

Incorporate Physical Activity Every Day

You cannot deny the significance of physical activity. Regular physical activity allows you to keep your joints and muscles moving and functional which is essential for the health and wellbeing of your mind and body.

Final Words

Posture or the lack of it can have severe implications for your physical and mental health. Fortunately, understanding and fixing the implications of postural stress is possible with simple measures like being aware of your posture and incorporating regular physical activity.

Get in touch with FlexiSpot to find out more about how you can improve your posture while working.