Many types of pain in the neck, back and elsewhere can be prevented and alleviated through good posture. While posture won’t completely relieve muscle and joint pain, it could prevent and limit it. It is the art of shifting weight, staying straight and not putting undue pressure on susceptible areas of the body.
Here is the situation. Good posture won’t necessarily mean that you won’t experience pain. On the other hand, bad posture may create pain. If your body is out of alignment too often, muscles and joints will feel stresses they weren’t designed to endure. That equals tense body parts. That equals back and neck pain.
Muscles are the key ingredients in this posture-pain business. They are the source of the discomfort. The head area is a delicate balancing act, and it’s possible the two most critical areas for avoiding pain are the tiny group of muscles located near the top of the spine (the ones that hold up the head) and the neck muscles. If the tiny muscles near the spine become tired, the head relies on its own muscles (those that control the jaw and the neck). The head’s tendency is to drop forward, forcing the neck muscles to extend slightly beyond their means. It’s very easy for all the muscles involved with the head to have a greater load to carry. It’s thought that for every inch the head moves forward, the pressure on head muscles doubles.
So posture isn’t always about the back — the neck and head are critical as well. Up there, pain flows in a cascading effect — pain in one place can trigger pain elsewhere. For instance, muscles in the temples can refer pain to the teeth, and to the front and rear of the head. The muscles running from the back of the head to the front of the neck can radiate pain to the side of the face and all over the head. Other muscles, in the shoulders and head, can shoot pain to the neck, jaw, temple and behind the ears.
Everything’s interconnected, so good posture will prevent pain in many different areas. If muscular tension becomes overbearing, it will mean the body’s reflexes that it uses to contrast gravity and coordinate movements become out of whack. What can result are pain in the neck and back, migraines, arthritis, and sciatica.
Sitting down causes between 40% and 90% more stress on the back than standing does. The longer you spend sitting, the tenser your body can become. Sitting at a desk for too long can be a major cause of neck and back pain because of the pressure exerted on muscles and spinal discs. Slouching is also a big problem and should be avoided.