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Posture and pain

education, high school and people concept - group of happy teenage students with with tablet pc computers at campus yard

Certain postures place greater strain on the muscles, ligaments and joints of the body when these postures are maintained for long periods of time.

An example of some of the more common postures that can cause these strains are forward head posture, rounded shoulders, rounded upper and lower back. With a forward head posture it has been shown that for every ten degrees that you bend your head forward an extra 10 pounds (5 kg’s) of pressure  is placed on the structures in the back of the neck. This is because your head, which weighs about 5 kg’s, is moving in front of your line of gravity causing the joints and muscles at the back of your neck to work harder to prevent your head from falling forward.

Likewise with the lower back, when it is rounded (for example when you sit slumped in the couch at home) the same principles apply. The weight of your upper body is being held by the joints and muscles of your lower back in such a way that the pressure over time can lead to injury of the joints, spinal discs and muscles.

Because the strain that is placed on your spine and muscles does not cause immediate pain (like touching a hot stove) it is not always obvious that these postures are causing your pain. This can often make diagnosing the issue difficult. This is a good reason why it is important to have a qualified health professional assist you in your diagnosis.

Posture and device use


The use of digital devices such as mobile phones, tablets, computers and laptops has been increasing steadily in children and adolescents.

This is due to greater accessibility for children at younger ages. Whether it is at home playing a game on a tablet or using laptops at school, digital devices are everywhere. Another reason for this increase is the rise of video games. A recent study in the UK has shown children from 12-15 years old spend an average of 10-14 hours a week playing games.

It has been shown that when using these devices people tend to adopt postures that are more likely to cause pain and discomfort. It is common to see people sitting at a desk with rounded lower and upper backs, rounded shoulders and forward head posture. A large portion of desk workers will experience pain due to these postures. The ergonomic industry is constantly attempting to reduce the problem with specially designed chairs and desks to help correct posture.

It is increasingly difficult for children to be helped in the same manner by using ergonomics. Children come in all shapes and sizes and are constantly changing and growing. To further complicate the matter, children at school are sharing desks and constantly changing where they are spending their time.

Pain and focus in school

Teenage Students In Library Reading Books

A growing number of school children and adolescents are having trouble concentrating at school due to the development of discomfort and pain from these postures discussed above.

It is well known that pain and discomfort causes distraction. The mind cannot fully concentrate on what is at hand while experiencing pain.

Concentration at school is something that should be treasured. Research suggests that the average attention span in minutes of a child is equal to their age. 5 minutes for a 5 year old, 7 minutes for a 7 year old etc. How many minutes will a child be able to concentrate when pain and discomfort is experienced at school?

Alarmingly, some children will be adopting these postures during the school day, furthering the problem when it is most important, causing direct interference with their learning.

This further emphasises the need for interventions to address this issue of posture-related pain and discomfort.

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