Postural Syndrome describes a variety of conditions in which repetitive or continued bad posture over a long period of time causes pain or reduced function in the muscles or joints.
There is generally no single cause for Postural Syndrome, but broadly speaking it results from the body being in ergonomically unhealthy positions over lengthy stretches. Often, long intervals of sitting down contribute to a hunched posture with the shoulders rounded and head forward. Sleeping on a mattress and pillow which does not properly support your spine and neck may also contribute. On a longer timeline, these sorts of repetitive positions can cause worsening pain and stiffness throughout the spine.
Improper posture can cause pain throughout the length of the spine from the neck to the pelvis. Postural Syndrome may also manifest in aching and stiffness of the shoulders, arms, and hands. It can also create compensatory spasms in the pelvic floor muscles and the external rotators of the hip which can lead to pelvic floor muscle dysfunction
Sedentary lifestyle and obesity are both leading risk factors for Postural Syndrome. If you spend a significant amount of time sitting down, such as at a desk job or behind the wheel of a vehicle, negative seated posture habits are more likely to cause problems over time. Bad posture while standing or walking, if left uncorrected, can worsen over time and lead to pain and dysfunction.
If you are suffering from back or neck pain, your doctor may perform a brief examination of your posture to determine whether or not you have harmful postural habits which may be contributing.
A physical therapy can help relieve tension and misalignment through manual techniques. They can also suggest exercises and techniques that you can use at home to improve posture. An active lifestyle generally is important to maintaining good posture, and exercises such as yoga and planks can specifically help strengthen the core and pelvic floor muscles, which offer support to the spine. You may also want to switch to a pillow or mattress that better supports your back and neck.
Being conscious about maintaining good posture is important in order to avoid slouching and other bad habits. Be aware of whether you commonly wake up with stiffness or pain in your neck and back, as these could be indicators that you are not using the best mattress or pillow for you. Since Postural Syndrome is common in people who work long hours sitting down at a desk, correct workplace ergonomics are another key.
Spending your work days sitting at a desk, staring at a screen can do a number on your neck, back, and pelvis. It’s important to keep your screen roughly level with your eye-line so you’re not bending your neck. Keep items that you use frequently within easy reach on your desk to reduce repetitive stress from reaching. Sit upright in your seat with your shoulders back, and remember to take breaks – just getting up and stretching your legs every half hour or hour can make a big difference. Adjustable desks that allow you to sit and stand throughout the day can also reduce the negative effects of sitting for long hours.
If left uncorrected, posture can continue to worsen, causing increased pain and dysfunction in the affected areas.
In addition to the pain and discomfort that long-term bad posture can cause, it can also have a negative effect on your digestive system. Constipation and urinary incontinence can both be caused or exacerbated by poor posture. Postural Syndrome can lead to compensatory spasm in the external rotators of the hip and the levator ani sling to help support the core muscles that are not firing properly.
Poor posture, if left unaddressed for a long period of time, can result in painful symptoms that affect the length of the spine, from neck to pelvis. Postural syndrome can usually be addressed with lifestyle modifications and physical therapy to correct posture and spinal alignment, reducing pain and improving quality of life.