If you suffer from neck pain, you are not alone: the pains of the spine, whether they affect the lower back or the neck, are one of the major causes of disability in the world. Their prevalence has also increased dramatically over the past 25 years. If the sore throat usually improves after a few months, 50% to 75% of those affected will experience recurrent painful episodes.
We often hear that there are “good” and “bad” postures and that certain specific postures can contribute to back pain. However, this belief is not based on any scientific evidence. In fact, various studies show that poor sleep, a reduced level of physical activity and an increase in stress are all parameters whose influence influences posture more than posture.
These “lifestyle factors” – getting enough sleep, exercising and limiting stress – are probably more important points to consider in relieving and preventing your neck pain than postural correction attempts. implemented by health professionals, or the use of chairs, desks, keyboards and other “ergonomic” gadgets.
The myth of posture
It has long been believed that posture played an important role in neck pain. As a result, changing mentalities on this topic is a huge challenge, as the idea that there is a strong link between posture and back pain is so deep in people’s minds. Yet science tells us a different story today.
For example, a recent high-quality study, including more than 1,000 adolescents, showed no statistically significant relationship between spine posture (the scholarly name of the spine) and neck pain. However, the differences between the postural subgroups involved in this study were easily discernible (eg participants sitting down seated or sitting upright). So yes, people sit in positions that vary from one person to another. But these differences seem to have no connection with the pains they may feel. In fact, this study revealed that the “posture” of adolescents was related to their mood …
Research has also shown that changing our sitting position at work – changing our workstations – what we call “ergonomic interventions” has little or no impact on the development of neck pain. In addition, it is difficult to estimate whether such ergonomic interventions can accelerate recovery in the case of neck pain because quality data are scarce.
Several studies have led researchers to follow groups of people who do not experience neck pain, as well as others whose neck pain occurs only occasionally, periodically. Some of the participants in this work developed debilitating neck pain. By studying these carefully, the scientists discovered that the sleep of the people who felt them was of lower quality than that of the other participants. Another characteristic: they did not sleep enough. Moreover, the work they carried out required a lot of effort. Finally, these people were also less physically active than others, and their mood was worse. In other words, their bodies were under greater stress, which caused more “muscle tension” in their necks. And even before the pain is felt.
Children are also affected by these problems. Researchers who have followed children for four years have found that as early as age 9, symptoms such as fatigue and sleep disturbances (as well as headaches, abdominal pain and low morale) are risk: they not only promote the occurrence, but also the persistence of weekly neck pain.
Sleep, exercise and relaxation
How to avoid neck pain? Protective factors include having a muscular neck and exercising. But even just walking a little each day helps to reduce neck pain. In addition to these measures, you must also make sure you get enough sleep, do not become sedentary, avoid stress.
Feel free to sit as you want at your office! On the other hand, if you have to stay in the same position for long periods of time, be sure to change it after a while – changing your position frequently during the day is also a key point to avoid neck pain.
And if you have a sore neck, have a good night’s sleep. Also indulge in activities that relax you – for example, taking a lunch break to go for a walk. And most importantly, do not worry about how you sit or walk: if you believe science, “bad” postures do not exist.
Christian Worsfold, Visiting Lecturer in Physiotherapy, University of Hertfordshire
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.