Did Tax Season Break Your Back?

Did Tax Season Break Your Back?

Postural Awareness
Poor posture affects not only your back, but can affect any surrounding joint. Poor posture leads to not only structural changes, but muscular changes as well. The muscles of the neck and back also attach to your shoulders and hips which adds extra stress on these areas. Sitting in a slumped position causes your abdominal muscles such as your rectus abdominus and external obliques as well as hip flexors (such as the psoas and illiacus) to become tight due to sitting a shortened position for extended periods of time. slouch1

As a result, the mulifidi, erector spinae, quadratus lumborum and other back extensors become over stretched and underworked- resulting in weakness. Together, the tightening of the anterior portion of your body and the weakening of the posterior portion can cause an inability to sit up comfortably with proper posture. While attempting to sit up properly, the back muscles fatigue even easier and force the person back into a slumped position, recreating the cycle of improper posture! This can cause other areas above and below the site of pain to become more prone to experiencing painful dysfunction.



Problems Caused by Poor Posture:
– tension headaches
– muscle fatigue and pain
– disc irritation and degeneration
– muscle imbalances
– extra stress on other joints (such as knees, hips, ankles, etc.)
– trigger points

Trigger Points
trigger pointTrigger points, commonly referred to as knots, are hyper irritable places within the fascia that can cause local as well as radiating and referred pain. Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds all of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and organs in order to facilitate proper movement and nutrition to the body. Some trigger points are latent, meaning they don’t become irritated until you apply pressure to the area. These fascial restrictions not only cause pain but they can limit your range of motion. Having poor posture can predispose you to trigger point development because the muscles have been forced to work with improper mechanics and the over worked muscles develop tight bands that left unaddressed, can form knots or kinks in the fascia. Common locations for trigger point include the supraspinatus, trapezius and deltoid.

Don’t Slouch!
Slouching at your desk, especially for extended periods of time can cause multitudes of different problems in multiple different areas of the body. This is even more pertinent during tax season if you’re constantly leaning over a computer and working without stretching or moving. align

Jobs that require you to be sedentary for the majority of the day tend to lead to poor posture. Poor posture doesn’t just affect you at work, but throughout your daily life. The picture to the right shows an example of proper posture. The dotted line displayed in the photograph should bisect the body perfectly down the middle. Any deviations away from this can cause an array of different issues. By standing in improper alignment, your body must adjust to withstand unnatural forces you’re placing on your body.

Why Does This Happen?
Sitting is the most common precursor to bad posture. When focusing on the computer screen or paper in front of you, we often forget to sit up straight and not slouch. Once we allow gravity to take effect, our head protrudes over the midline of our bodies causing an increase in stress over the cervical region of the spine. Muscles such as the trapezius and levator scapula support the head and neck as well as assist in shoulder and scapular movement. Misalignment of the head and cervical spine put these muscles at an increased load while also providing a constant overstretch. This can cause pain and dysfunction in the should and upper back as a result of forward head posture alone.


The human body is a kinetic chain. All joints and regions of the body must function together in order to provide proper mechanics and pain free movement. If there’s a dysfunction in one part of the body, and it’s left unaddressed, it often manifests other problems in other areas close to the affected region. This can be seen to the left in the forward head posture example.

If you feel like this is something that?s beginning to affect you, don?t wait! The longer you wait the worse it may get. Catching it early on can severely diminish your pain and give you relief early on. Learning proper posture and techniques to reduce back pain and other symptoms can help you lead a happier, healthier life.

Dr. Shoshana Sevel, DC, MS, CSTP, CCSP
Clinic Director, Sport and Spine Rehab of Fairfax
[email protected]

Leave a Comment