Doctors' Choice Physical Medicine

Schuylkill County: Neck and Back Problems – Posture and Movement

Pottsville: While most of us have a look in the mirror at least once a day, few of us look at our appearance from a different angle, such as from the side. Your posture from the side can be quite revealing if you suffer from chronic neck pain or back pain.

How Is Your Neck Posture

First, note the position of your head in relation to you shoulders. Is it right above the shoulders or does it lean forward from your chest?  If it does, this is called forward head posture.  It can come from a problem in your neck.  It may be from a car accident from years ago.

How Is Your Low Back Posture

Lower areas of your spine can also cause this problem.  Some of us have increased our weight over the years with much of it added to our abdominal region.  Because of this increased core weight, the body must counter-balance the weight gain by causing the lumbar spine to “sway- back”. 

While this “sway-back” problem can create pain in the low back, it can also have far-reaching effects in the posture of the neck.  Usually someone with a protruding stomach and sway back will have somewhat rounded shoulders and a forward head posture.

Do Our Jobs Give Us Bad Posture

Other causes of forward head posture can be caused from our jobs.  When we spend a lot of time sitting, our shoulders round and our chest muscles tighten and the muscles between our shoulder blades weaken.  The end result is that this muscle imbalance pulls our head forward.  If treatment is only directed at the neck without considering how other areas may affect the position and stability of the neck, then optimum results will not be achieved.

In an accident, many areas of the body can potentially be injured.

Your Posture Affects Your Entire Body

To correct forward head posture and the symptoms associated with it, like headaches and tingling in the arms, I not only look beyond the area of your primary symptom.  I also evaluate how mechanically one area of the spine or body can affect a distant area.  Even dysfunction in your feet can cause symptoms in your neck.  These more distant areas can cause neck pain or they can impede complete recovery because the body is compensating for abnormal posture or movement elsewhere.

Can Function Be More Important Than Posture

Abnormal posture is a relative term.  It is not as important that your posture is perfect as it is that your body functions properly.  We perform an overhead squat test and shoulder movement assessment to identify movement abnormalities.  Once the abnormal movements are identified, we prescribe stretches for the tight muscles and exercises for the weak muscles to bring your body back into balance.

Other evaluations may include foot pressure measurements for abnormal foot mechanics and dynamic surface electomyograms (sEMG) to identify overly active muscles.

If your posture leaves something to be desired, if you are stiff or cannot move as you think you should, then it is important to be thoroughly checked.  Tender spots in your muscles especially around the back of your neck and low back, are warning signs that you are out of balance.

It is easier to treat small pains than to wait until there is a major problem. 

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Doctors’ Choice Physical Medicine and Rehab

Dr. David Novatnak 

Glee Pascual, Physical Therapist

Pottsville, Schuylkill, PA