Background: The aim of the study was to assess postural habits in young, healthy people, identify correlations between postural errors and pain and attempt to modify bad habits.
Material and methods: 144 people, aged 18-23 were enrolled. The intervention consisted of 4 stages: Stage 1 - identification of postural habits, description of responses to stress, back pain frequency and intensity (Jackson & Moskowitz); Stage 2 - correction of habitual position with the help of a physiotherapist, briefing about ergonomic everyday behaviours and consequences of continued non-ergonomic behaviours, Stage 3 - follow-up examination: self-assessment of changes, evaluation of the effects of modifications, determination of causes for discontinuing the behaviour modification programme, where applicable; and Stage 4 - final examination, assessment of results. Correlations were sought between inappropriate postural behaviour in various positions and between non-ergonomic postural behaviour and pain location and response to stress. Statistical analysis was carried out with Excel and Statistica v. 7.1. A non-parametric χ(2) test was used at p<0.005.
Results: All participants presented poor postural patterns in the standing, sitting and recumbent position. Back pain was reported by half of the participants. Statistically significant relationships between pain and habitual positions were noted with regard to the cervical and lumbar spine and also for abdominal pain as a response to stress in people with excessive thoracic kyphosis. Behaviour modifications caused or intensified lumbar pain or thigh muscle pain. Positive outcomes included better urination and/or defecation and greater comfort in assuming the different positions and performing activities of daily living in these positions. Some examinees discontinued behaviour modification during the first month after the initial instruction and the majority did so over the next three months.
Conclusions: 1. Non-ergonomic postural behaviours are common among young people. 2. Changing the body position does not eliminate the impact of the inappropriate habit. 3. An attempt to modify non-ergonomic postural behaviours usually results in pain, which may act as a demotivating factor. 4. Discomfort associated with the modification of habitual postural behaviours is reduced after 3-4 months of regular training.