Postural strain and pain

Postural strain and pain

Pain from postural strain arises from prolonged positioning of spine in one position for eg; slouched sitting. Pain from postural strain usually disappears once you move out of that position. The postural strain can happen in your neck and shoulders, upper back and your lower back. It happens when the soft tissues in those areas are strained due to faulty postures in sitting and standing.

Common faulty postures are:

Sitting with a poked chin or forward head posture and Rounded shoulders

 It can be due to a low seat, high computer screen, faulty postural habits, tight muscles on the front of the shoulder or chest wall or focussing too much in strengthening your chest muscles.  Stand in front of the mirror and let your arms hang by your sides and if your knuckles are facing forwards you have rounded shoulders.

Hunched back

Sitting with a hunched back with head kept much forwards can lead to poor posture. Hunching over the computer key board can be a sign that you have tight chest muscles and weak upper back.

Cradling your phone

Cradling your phone between your ear and shoulder can cause strain on the muscles around your neck, shoulders and upper back. Holding the phone in this position can cause tightness in the muscles on the side you are holding the phone and weakness in the opposite side which is called as muscle imbalance.

Slouched sitting in a chair

Slouching may feel as a relaxed position initially, but over time it causes strain on the muscles and ligaments in our spine. If not corrected it may cause increased pressure on the disc and pinched nerve which may lead to neck, upper back or low back pain with or without radiating pain in to your legs or arms.

Sticking your bottom out in standing (Increased lumbar lordotic curve)

 You will have an increased inward curve on you low back. Pregnancy, wearing high heels and weakness in your abdominal muscles can lead to this posture. The muscles around your abdomen and bottom will be weak and there will be tightness in the muscles on your low back and front of your hip. I If the posture is not corrected it can lead to accelerated degenerative changes in the spine and pinched nerve.

Standing with a flat back

Flat back posture is when the natural curvature of low back is lost and will lead you to stoop forwards in standing. There will be forward head posture and increased forward bending of the upper back to compensate for the lower spine changes. The main cause for this posture is muscle imbalance.


Most of the time postural problems are addressed when someone has a pain or other symptoms. But it is always better not to wait till that time. If you think that you have a faulty posture which you are not able to correct visit your Physiotherapist. Your Physiotherapist will be able to assess your posture and muscle imbalances. Treatment includes postural correction exercises, strengthening of weak muscles and stretching exercises for the tight muscles, core stability exercises, ergonomic advice. If you have back pain due to other reasons correcting the posture helps to reduce the tension in the muscles and ligaments. It will help your spinal problems in long term. Your Physiotherapist will be able to advice you on appropriate supportive lumbar rolls or other postural correction aids to help you maintain the good posture.