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Health & Exercise Forum

Poor Posture Could be the Cause of your Aches and Pains

Oct 3, 2011

Dr. Mackarey's Health & Exercise ForumGuest Contributor: Tito Ogunsola, SPT, ATC

October is National Physical Therapy Month! Stop by my office at Mackarey & Mackarey PT on Penn Avenue in downtown Scranton for First Friday festivities on Friday October 7 from 5:30 to 8:30 to celebrate PT Month. We will have live music by East Coast Trio and photography by Eileen Barrett Notarianni. Remember to hug your PT today! In honor of PT month, today’s column has been written by a guest contributor from my alma mater, Temple University. Tito Ogunsola, SPT, ATC, Temple University, (Doctor of Physical Therapy 2011), submitted this column as the 2011 recipient of the Dr. Paul Mackarey, Physical Therapy Health Care Journalism Award.

The Dangers of Poor Posture

Do long days at work feel like a pain in the neck, literally? Over time, long hours spent in front of the computer or on our feet all day can lead to poor posture and affect the alignment of our bodies. We have all been told to sit up straight more times than we would like to remember, all the while not realizing how severe an impact our posture has on our well being. Poor posture can contribute to neck pain, headaches, low back pain, poor flexibility, jaw pain, shoulder pain, muscular fatigue, as well as declines in overall fitness. Improper body positioning when sitting, standing or when performing daily activities can cause your body to work harder than necessary by over stressing the muscles. The overstressed muscles fatigue and become less efficient, which thereby leads to injury. Fortunately, it is possible to prevent further damage by correcting your everyday bad habits.

10 Strategies for reducing stress-producing positions and activities

      The following tips can be implemented in your daily life to help reduce and/or prevent injury:

  • Change your position frequently, and avoid prolonged sitting or standing.
  • Wear supportive footwear, especially when standing for prolonged periods of time. Improper footwear can adversely affect one’s posture and alignment, which can lead to foot, knee, hip or low back pain.
  • Decrease your load. Avoid carrying a heavy purse, backpack, or suitcase when traveling. Try using a wheel suitcase instead. Carrying excessive load will place excess stress on your body and can easily lead to neck and back pain
  • When you are preparing to enter your vehicle, come in sideways, buttocks first and feet last, instead of twisting at the torso. Use a low back support when in the seat.
  • Use caution when taking groceries out of the trunk of a vehicle, and avoid bending at the waist to lift. Instead, slightly bend your knees and lower your hips, move the bag close to your body and then lift.
  • If you are caring for a young child, avoid carrying the child on one hip when possible by alternating sides. Think about using a child carrier, or hold the child close to your chest.
  • When working at your station, make sure your computer screen is at eye level when you are looking straight ahead in order to avoid slouching.
  • When you are washing your face, or brushing your teeth, it is safer to sit or stoop and slightly bend the knees and hips.
  • When shoveling snow, avoid twisting and pivot your entire body to move the snow. Walk to empty the snow from the shovel instead of tossing with the arms. If possible, use a snow blower
  • When picking up a heavy item, bring to object close to you body. Then, bend at the knees and not at the low back, and use your legs to do the majority of the work.

In conjunction with modifying your posture, it may be necessary to see a medical professional such as your family physician or physical therapist who can further help relieve to your symptoms. This is very important for those with a history of neck or back pain, osteoporosis, scoliosis, or flat feet.

How can Physical Therapy help improve my poor posture?

      Physical Therapists are experts in conservative management of movement disorders. Physical therapy can teach individuals how to decrease stressful living and working habits. A goal of physical therapy is address patient specific complaints and to correct the existing tissue problems in order to help patient’s function safely when performing life activities. Physical therapy will help patients to avoid further injury by addressing specific impairment such as: decreased range of motion and flexibility, lack of muscular strength, endurance, etc. Physical therapy can also help providing muscle relaxation and pain relieving interventions. On your first visit, you can expect the physical therapist to examine your posture in various positions and conduct a number of examination tests to find where possible muscle imbalances and tissue dysfunctions lie. Moreover, the physical therapist will teach you postural re education techniques that will further help decrease the stressors being placed on your body. To find a licensed physical therapist in your area with orthopedic certification visit: or ask your physician for referral.

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.

Guest Contributor: Tito Ogunsola, SPT, ATC, Temple University, Doctor of Physical Therapy 2011, submitted this column as the 2011 recipient of the Dr. Paul Mackarey, Physical Therapy Health Care Journalism Award.

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an affiliated faculty member at the University of  Scranton, PT Dept.