Proper posture is crucial for long-term health as it keeps key body structures from the head down to the neck and back in alignment, thereby keeping the extensive network of muscles, ligaments, joints and tendons surrounding the vertebrae functioning optimally and offering the most joint stability and control. Incorrect posture over time can cause changes to our soft tissues and joints that decrease stability, offer less support and make us susceptible to acute injury, chronic changes and degeneration. Because back pain can have a signiﬁcant impact on our quality of life and the activities we can partake in, it is essential that any postural issues are addressed and managed by a professional that specialises in this area. This is why our highly skilled physiotherapy team undertake an extensive postural analysis and employ treatment methods grounded in the latest clinical research to give you the best results possible and get you active and doing the things you love. Common postural issues include:
Forward Head Posture
This describes a posture whereby the head is held forward so that the ears sit in front of the shoulders and above the chest as opposed to resting centrally on the neck and shoulders. Contributing factors to developing this posture include keeping the head forward and looking down while at the computer, rounding the shoulders and hunching the back when sitting, sleeping with the head extended, poor back muscle strength and many others. This causes supporting muscles to strain, shorten and lengthen accordingly, contributes to degeneration in the cervical vertebrae and can irritate the cervical nerves. Moreover, it can cause pain, stiffness and tension in the neck, back and shoulders.
Protracted Shoulder Girdle/Rounded Shoulders
This is best described as slumped forward shoulders. The shoulders are pulled forward from the centre of the body to a rounded or hunched position and the shoulder blades rotate which may cause a bony prominence at the end of the shoulder blade to protrude. The arm may subsequently turn inwards so that the palms are facing backward. This leads to the lengthening and shortening of muscles and causes a narrowing in the space between the bones and joints. Like with forward head posture, it is the common daily activities like working at a computer, driving a car and accustomed slumping when sitting that lead to protracted shoulders. This position signiﬁcantly increases the risk of injuring the shoulder through impingement in the narrowed spaces that can pinch the soft tissues. The resulting limited range of motion at the shoulder can also make raising the arm over the head more difﬁcult.
Kyphosis describes an excessive amount of spine curvature where the upper back is rounded forwards - severe cases may be referred to as ‘hunchback’. While a degree of curvature through our spinal is important for normal function, excessive curvature can cause serious problems and imbalance. There are three common types of kyphosis - postural, Scheuermann’s and congenital, which are associated with poor posture, structural abnormalities and abnormalities in foetal vertebral development, respectively. Symptoms can include back pain, stiffness and fatigue with severe kyphosis leading to neurological symptoms including numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness, though mild cases are often asymptomatic. Visibly the back can appear to have a hump and the shoulders may be rounded.
Winged Scapula/Shoulder blade
A winged scapula describes the protrusion of the shoulder blade out on the back, making it relatively easy to identify. It is typically a symptom of other injuries, poor posture or muscle weakness rather than a condition itself. It commonly occurs following injury to the thoracic nerve and weakness in the serratus anterior muscle. While a winged scapula may remain asymptomatic, it can be associated with shoulder pain, discomfort sitting against a chair, and if there is associated nerve damage then numbness, tingling and weakness may be felt in the area. Generally a winged scapula suggests the shoulder may not be able to function optimally with overhead or lifting activities.