Do you ever experience tightness or pain in your neck, back and/or shoulders whenever you’re trying to focus on work, or on long drives? This post will give you an insight into the what's, why's and how’s of postural strain.
What is Postural Strain?
Postural strain is a term used to describe the tension that can be placed on your neck, shoulders and back when you maintain a constant "poor" posture over a long period of time. It could also be due to a repetitive asymmetric activity which may lead to stiffness, tightness, dull aches, or sharp pains that can sometimes result in headaches. This is common in occupations such as desk workers, students and those who spend long periods of time driving (for example truck drivers or people who commute long distances to work). It doesn’t just affect people who spend a long time sitting, it can also affect people who are standing or walking in sustained postures, such as cashiers, gardeners or house cleaners. The other factors that contribute to your postural strain are ergonomics. This is a term that applies to the configuration of your work station, and includes things like: the height of your desk and chair, as well as the placement of your computer, keyboard and mouse. Likewise, while driving long distances, the position of your car seat and steering wheel can be very important.
How Can I Stop Postural Strain?
- Take short but regular breaks from the task that causes the discomfort.
- Improve awareness of your posture and regularly readjust it.
- If needed, adjust your desk, chair, computer position, etc. to encourage a better posture.
- Have a chat with your physiotherapist; you may also benefit from an ergonomic assessment to identify what needs to be adjusted.
- Hands-on treatment (physiotherapy, massage, etc.) can also help to reduce stiffness and tightness.
- Perform targeted stretches and strengthening exercises to improve your postural strength.
How Can Physiotherapy Help?
You often cannot change your job or decrease your computer usage. Your physiotherapist can teach you how to navigate through your condition and help you understand what might be causing your strain. Your physiotherapist will prescribe you therapeutic exercises specifically tailored to your needs. Massage and stretches alone, can provide short-term relief, but may not address the underlying source of the issue. These techniques work best if used in conjunction with strengthening exercises to improve postural strength.
Now that you know what a postural strain is and how to stop it, you will soon be able to get back on track without being distracted by pain and discomfort! If you’d like more information about postural strains, treatment, or an ergonomic assessment, book an appointment with us by following the link below.