Postural strain is the result of continued, poor posture, (e.g. sitting at a computer), or repeated movements involving poor posture (e.g. working under a car bonnet or at a check out). Over time, this leads to straining of structures in the head, neck and back.

Symptoms of postural strain

The symptoms of postural strain include:

  • Stiffness/tightness in the neck, back and shoulders that is not relieved with massage or stretching
  • Lower back pain due to increased curvature associated with hunching
  • Hunched appearance
  • Reduced range of motion in the neck
  • Headaches
  • Poor mechanical respiration
  • Loss of vertical height
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive issues
  • Reduced self awareness and self-esteem
  • Transient reduction in cognitive ability

Causes of postural strain

Ergonomic factors are a major contributor to postural strain and include:

  • Inadequate chair height and/or back support to prevent slumping
  • Prolonged driving or sitting in a couch/other seating conductive to slumping
  • Unsuitable computer set up (i.e. mouse/keyboard too far away, monitor too low/high)
  • Unsuitable office organisation (i.e. phone, stationary equipment etc. out of reach, too low/high)
  • Fatigue/insufficient breaks from sitting or other straining activities

Treatment and management

Your osteopath can assist to relieve and reduce the potential for future postural strain in a number of ways, including:

  • Education to increase your awareness of posture and ergonomic contributors to poor posture and postural strain
  • Identification of ergonomic and lifestyle factors to eliminate the causes of postural strain
  • Modifications to workstations or training
  • Osteopathic treatment of muscles & joints for relief of tension & improved flexibility
  • Prescription of stretches and exercises to improve posture and reduce postural strain

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