Back pain and neck pain are very common and costly problems, both personally and economically. Many people suffer bouts of such pain and some continue to suffer on-going pain and consequences.
Posture is often quoted as being a causative factor although this is really too simple to explain back pain and neck pain. Of course, when we are suffering pain, the way in which we sit and stand has a bearing upon the pain with some positions making the pain worse and some offering relief. In very acute episodes or during a flare-up, an unfortunate individual may find it very difficult to find any comfortable position although this is usually short lived – if you are currently experiencing such pain you should seek the advice of your doctor or healthcare professional as early pain relief, perhaps by medication, is very important for early coping.
When we are sitting in a particular form, we embody what we are doing and thinking about. This means that the effects of maintaining a position are not purely a consequence of the posture but rather a combination of the body’s configuration and what is going on physiologically. In particular, I am referring to the effects of stress when we perceive a situation to be out of our control. This in combination with the particular posture is what leads to pain and discomfort in the ‘end organ’, the musculoskeletal tissues of the body.
What emerges when we sit for long periods at the desk is a consequence of how we are sitting, what we are thinking and how we are feeling
There are some fundamental factors to address when treating low back pain and neck pain. These include education about the pain mechanisms and the problem to reduce the threat and empower the individual to be proactive and the maintenance of activity levels. Around this can be a range of therapies and strategies that should all point the compass towards the restoration of healthy movement and healthy metaphor, both emergent from the individual.
A significant consideration for developing healthy tissues and movement is posture as a construct of the aforementioned factors: position + cognitive/emotional state. Addressing this in detail is vital, especially for those who spend time at a desk, as this is a large chunk of their time. It is not simply a case of suggesting an ‘ideal’ posture but rather an active, nourishing approach to the physical, cognitive and emotional dimensions of pain.