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There are several ill-effects that accompany poor posture. Some of these effects of poor posture are pains in the chest, back, and neck. Poor posture can also dizziness, numbness and reduce movement efficiency. But can poor posture cause muscle spasm? In this article, we will present to you the relationship (if there is any) between poor posture & muscle spasm.
In my previous post, I said poor posture is the posture that results from the hardening or shortening of certain muscles while others lengthen and weaken. This often occurs due to daily use. There are different factors that can affect posture. They include professional activities and biomechanical factors such as force and repetition.
Bad posture is the result of musculoskeletal distortion in the neck, lower and upper back. Poor posture differs from person to person because of the variety of body types. The correct posture of one person may be incorrect for another person and vice versa. However, there are ways to determine a bad posture. Some of the classic signs of bad posture include a potted belly, rounded shoulders.
Furthermore, poor posture can manifest as round and raised shoulders and a position of the head that is pushed forward. This position puts pressure on the spine between the top of the neck and the skull and the base of the neck and the top of the shoulders. There is a reduction in the stability of the shoulder blades causing changes in the movement pattern of the upper extremities.
Similarly, it can also manifest as the forward inclination of the hips, an increase in the curve of the lumbar spine and a protruding abdomen. This position puts pressure on the hip and lower back joints.
There are many risks associated with poor posture. Poor posture can hinder the lungs’ ability to develop well. Bad posture is also an important risk factor in many injuries. In fact, many sports injuries are the result of poor posture.
But can we really say that poor posture cause muscle spasm? Let’s get to know what muscle spasm is before we make that conclusion.
A muscle spasm is a sudden and involuntary contraction of one or more muscles. A spasm is the result of an abnormally sustained muscle contraction and is often painful. Several muscles can develop spasms. This includes the small intrinsic muscles of a musician’s hand and the larger muscles of a runner’s calf.
Muscle spasms can affect the skeletal muscles of the limbs and spine, responsible for locomotion and vertical posture. It can also affect the smooth muscles that line the hollow tubular internal organs of our body, such as the muscles that line the colon or bladder.
Usually, spasm involves part or all of one muscle or multiple muscles in a group. The most common sites of muscle spasms are the thighs, calves, the arch of the feet, the hands, the arms, the abdomen, and sometimes along the rib cage.
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Acute skeletal muscle spasms may be the result of muscle injury or excessive use. They can occur when an athlete has not warmed up or stretched before a vigorous anaerobic exercise. Examples of such exercises are sprinting or jumping. They can also occur during resistance training. For instance, when a marathon runner has not maintained a good balance of fluids and electrolytes. Hence, causing muscles with higher metabolic demand to lack nutrients. These types of spasms disappear with rest, hydration and gentle stretching.
Recurrent or chronic muscle spasms can mean a more important underlying medical condition. Such conditions can be related to toxic metabolic, nutritional, vascular or hormonal problems. In peripheral arterial disease, for example, there is a lack of blood and oxygen supply to the affected muscles, which causes “vascular claudication” spasms.
These spasms, or cramps, usually involve the lower limbs and get worse with effort and improve with rest. In kidney or liver diseases, there may be depletion of the volume and/or rapid abnormalities of body fluids and electrolytes responsible for chronic muscle cramps. Similarly, conditions that cause excessive vomiting, diarrhea or insufficient nutritional intake can cause skeletal muscle cramps.
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Furthermore, muscle cramp can be considered a type of muscle spasm. Cramps are sudden, unpleasant and painful sensations caused by sudden muscle contraction or shortening of muscle fibers. Common causes of skeletal muscle cramps are electrolyte imbalances due to overwork, dehydration or excessive heat/temperature changes. The cramped muscle is tired, a sign that the individual needs immediate rest and rehydration. Usually, the cramp is short-lived, but sometimes muscle pain can persist for up to a week. Often, gentle stretching, heat, and massage are useful at first.
Nighttime leg cramps are involuntary muscle contractions that usually occur in the leg muscles during the night or during rest. The duration of nighttime leg cramps varies from a few seconds to several minutes. There may be residual muscle pain. However, these cramps are more common in the elderly, which are sensitive to contributing factors. Contributing factors generally involve electrolyte imbalances, ischemia (reduced blood flow) in muscle tissue due to cardiovascular, kidney or liver disease, lumbar stenosis, and special medications.
The answer to this question is an emphatical yes! Yes, poor posture can cause muscle spasm.
Let us consider the neck spasm. Neck spasms are spontaneous contractions of the muscles in the neck. The muscles get really hard, tight, and painful.
Neck spasms can occur as a result of injury, excessive use, poor posture or stress. For example, it is common for people who do a lot of computer work to have a stiff neck. This is a result of poor posture. When you practice bad neck posture, you place your head in a position called forward head. It is one of the main causes of tension in the shoulders, tension, and pain in the head and neck. Over time, this will lead to neck spasm.
Also, spasms can occur even after a night of uncomfortable sleep. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a good sleeping posture. You can read on how to maintain a good sleeping posture on this post.
When this happens, the neck muscles are hard, tense and painful. When the muscles that extend from the shoulders to the head go into spasm, spasms can even cause headaches. You may have tender or soft points in your neck, sometimes called trigger points. These spots can even cause pain in other places.
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Another instance is the back spasm. There are many possible causes of muscle spasm in the lower back, including poor posture, excessive use of muscles, sprains, and strains.
Poor posture, especially when sitting at a desk or in a car, can strain your back muscles and cause muscle spasm. Some people may adjust their posture to deal with spasms, which could make the pain worse.
A spasm in the lower back generally gives the impression that a muscle is contracting or moving firmly. However, it can also be seen as a dull ache, in movement, acute pain in a specific place or any combination of these painful sensations. Some people also find that the pain of spasms in the lower back radiates to other parts of the body, such as the hips or legs.
A doctor will take a complete medical history and ask for details about spasms. A physical exam or images of the affected area may also be necessary. If there are other symptoms, the doctor may determine whether or not they are related to muscle spasms.
Treatment will depend on the cause of the symptoms. The treatment for muscle spasm caused by poor posture might differ from the one caused by not maintaining a good balance of fluids and electrolytes. While exercise and stretching can improve many causes of spasm in the lower back, it may not be enough for chronic conditions. Depending on the diagnosis, a doctor may recommend:
These are some strategies that can help with muscle spasm whether it was caused by poor posture or not.
People should follow the recommendations of the CDC and be sure to do 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of high intensity aerobic exercise each week. It is also advisable to do muscle building exercises at least 2 days a week.
Managing stress, including meditation or deep breathing, can prevent unconscious tension. People who spend long periods of time sitting should stretch regularly and take breaks every hour. Good posture can reduce the pain associated with a prolonged sitting session.
As you have already discovered, poor posture can cause muscle spasm. However, the muscle spasm caused by poor posture and other agents can be treated. Also, they can be prevented by maintaining straight postures. Correcting your bad posture is not difficult.
It is true that muscle spasm can be painful and frustrating. This can cause some people to stop exercising or become less active, which will make the problem worse.
Muscle spasms often disappear on their own. They may return or never appear again. It depends on the cause.
However, if you are willing to try different medications and other strategies, your symptoms may improve.
The best way to treat muscle spasms is to stay active and experiment with home treatment options. If the pain does not go away, it is better to consult a doctor.