Posture is a hot topic in the world of physical therapy. One therapist will state posture has nothing to do with your pain, the other will consider it the cause. At Body Evolution we believe posture often plays a role in contributing to your pain, but we know that ‘poor’ posture does not mean you will have pain. Pain is complex and the pain experience is determined on how your brain interprets the information from both the internal (YOU) and external (THE WORLD) environment. Though pain is complex there often is a contribution from posture.
Most people think of ‘good’ posture as standing upright like someone in the military and ‘bad’ posture as standing in a slouched posture like someone who sat on the couch all day watching Netflix. The person with ‘good’ posture may be in pain while the person with ‘poor’ posture is pain-free. You might have pain right now. You might have a stiff and painful back that hurts while you walk causing you to limp and then you look over at the 'little old lady' who is hunched over her walker speeding by you...you think 'but my posture is great and she seems to be fine?' Does your posture have anything to do with your pain?...well...maybe, maybe not.
If you don't have any pain then how can you determine if posture is an issue? In the context of pain, you can't. But if you have pain then that's a different story.
When someone is in pain you can begin to assess if mechanical (or how the body holds itself) may be affecting the area that is painful. If there is too much tension or compression on a body structure the brain may receive signals of that stress and interpret it as a threat. If the brain finds it to be threatening then one way the brain lets you know is sending the signal of pain. It is not uncommon that at Body Evolution we find those areas under most tension or compression to be a factor in the patient’s pain complaint. We also find that when certain body areas do not move through their full range of motion that this can result in increased tension and compression of those areas. We feel that these areas can be a ‘weak link,’ mechanically-speaking, in the body. These ‘weak links’ may have never been an issue and may never be, but when there is enough stress the brain may decide to send you a pain signal. An example, you may have never noticed these regions until you lost your job or started eating a more inflammatory diet. The additional stress was enough for your brain to determine there is too much threat in your system and it decided to send pain signals to alert you to an issue…this time it was to the weak link in your body. (see our Threat Bucket blog post to learn more).
This is a bit of a hypothesis and our evidence is mostly through clinical experience, but we believe posture plays a role in pain and other issues.
When we talk about other issues where posture may be involved it is easy to think of things from a mechanical perspective. Imagine the most slouched posture you can think of…how about the little old man or woman walking hunched over their walker, moving slowly across the street…look at their rounded back…do you think they are breathing at an optimal level….how could they be with no room for their lungs to expand?
Another example. Think about the person who sits at the computer desk all day, 5 days a week, intensely looking at their computer screen for hours straight. Their head sits far forward and even when they stand up the position stays the same. Their lower neck flexes forward and the upper overextends to compensate. The arteries and veins, those really important ones that feed your brain, are compressed and less blood flow can get to the brain…that person wonders why they have trouble concentrating (brain fog).
These are just two examples of how posture can affect you without causing pain, instead performance is impacted. When we move better, we feel better. When we move better, there is less stress or threat in the system and you area less likely to experience pain.
At Body Evolution we consider ourselves experts in movement and postural correction. If you think your pain may be due to your posture or your performance is being affected then give us a call. You can come in for a FREE Discovery Session to see how we can help change your posture and transform your life.
I'm just a guy helping active adults and athletes frustrated by nagging aches and pains naturally return to a healthy lifestyle.