Viewing digital screens was already on the rise before the pandemic isolated so many. It was only natural that we turned to smartphones, tablets, and laptops to work, entertain ourselves, and stay connected. Makeshift home offices often advanced ergonomic compromises.
All these factors push your head forward in front of the shoulders instead of balanced over the spine, forcing support muscles into action to counteract the loss of natural alignment. Ultimately, it also means neck pain.
Pain may mean a visit to Westside Pain Specialists for relief. Dr. James Nassiri is a neck pain expert and will be the first to stress the importance of maintaining a balanced posture as a natural pain reliever. Simply making sitting and standing in a neutral position a priority can help relieve the stresses that contribute to neck pain.
The effects of poor posture
Bending your head forward by one inch adds 10 pounds to the musculoskeletal support system, and each additional inch increases by another 10 pounds. Imagine carrying around 20 pounds for about eight hours a day, roughly the average time Americans reported spending on digital devices in 2020.
Posture problems start as your body responds to the unbalanced load. Your shoulders curve forward and inward, and you tend to slouch, adopting positions that seem comfortable. As you’re focused on your online tasks, it’s easy to fall into bad posture habits.
This bad posture, however, can lead to headaches and spasms in the short term and problems like bulging or ruptured spinal discs down the road. Also, compressed nerves can cause pain and other issues to spread from your neck and shoulders through the nerve’s path.
What makes good posture?
As you’re sitting, you’re in a neutral posture when your feet are flat on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. The curve of your spine is centered over your hips, and your shoulders are back, directly beneath your head. You can feel the balance, that you’re in the “right” posture. Any posture-related pain might ease when you adopt this neutral pose.
Standing requires your feet to be spaced evenly and in line with your shoulders. Knees are bent just enough to avoid being locked, while your hips are even and balanced. As you stand straight, the curve of your lower back presses your chest forward, which gets another boost when you pull your shoulders back. Once again, your head balances naturally over your shoulders.
Making good posture a habit is harder than simply sitting up straight. Spending long hours in a seated or standing position makes it easy to slip out of a neutral posture. Use your devices in a health-positive way by setting timers. A posture reset every 15 to 30 minutes can begin making a habit of a neutral posture.
If you’re sitting, stand for a few seconds. If you’re standing, sit down. Movement stimulates blood flow and refreshes your dormant muscles. As these behaviors become second nature, the aches, knots, and pains in your neck stop accumulating.
Contact us at Westside Pain Specialists if you experience lingering aftereffects from your time spent in poor posture. Call the nearest location in Beverly Hills or Rancho Cucamonga, California, to set up your consultation today.