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How your posture might be the cause of your pain

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Posture leading to back pain
Your posture might lead to back pain

When posture is good, then movement is usually fluid and efficient. There are many misunderstandings about what constitutes good posture, such as pinching the shoulder blades together to try to keep the upper back straight, drawing the neck back to straighten the cervical curve and the posterior pelvic tilt (tucking the bum under) to straighten out the lower back curve.

Understanding posture

When one's posture is optimal, their movements tend to be smooth and fluid. Numerous misconceptions exist regarding what exactly constitutes good posture, but essentially, it refers to the alignment and positioning of the body's various parts in relation to one another.

Good posture typically involves maintaining a neutral spine, with the shoulders aligned over the hips and the ears aligned over the shoulders. This alignment helps distribute the body's weight evenly and can prevent strain on the muscles, ligaments, and joints. Additionally, it allows for efficient movement and proper functioning of the body's systems.

So how does your posture cause you pain?

Contrary to popular belief, good posture is not about sitting or standing up straight with a rigid, unnatural posture. It is about finding a balance between relaxed and aligned positions, allowing for natural curves of the spine to be maintained. Slouching or excessive straightening can both be detrimental to posture and can lead to discomfort or pain.

Poor posture, on the other hand, involves slouching or hunching over, which can create imbalances and strain on various body parts. This can result in muscle imbalances, back pain, decreased flexibility, reduced lung capacity, diminished digestion, and even negative effects on mental health. By actively focusing on and maintaining good posture, individuals can promote their overall well-being, prevent discomfort or pain, and enjoy smoother and more fluid movements.

How does posture cause back pain?

The curves in our backbone serve a purpose - as a flexible curve can support more weight, absorb shocks more effectively, and distribute forces. A gentle curve is more beneficial than a straight or exaggerated one.

The forced postures mentioned do not align with the anatomical ideal and therefore, they cause muscle imbalances and abnormal strains on the body. Pain, misalignment of joints, and abnormal postures are interconnected.

How common is chronic back pain?

Chronic back pain is a widespread issue that affects a significant portion of the population.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that around 60-70% of people will experience some form of back pain in their lifetime. Back pain can range from mild discomfort to severe and debilitating conditions that limit a person's ability to perform daily activities.

Although the prevalence of chronic back pain varies across different countries and age groups, it is more commonly reported in older individuals.

A study conducted in the United States found that about 20% of adults aged 18 to 44 experienced chronic back pain, while this number increased to approximately 40% in individuals aged 65 and older.

Furthermore, chronic back pain can significantly impact a person's quality of life, leading to decreased functioning, increased healthcare utilisation, and reduced work productivity. Given its high prevalence and impact, efforts to prevent and manage chronic back pain are of utmost importance in promoting overall well-being.

Tips on improving posture

Improving posture is important for maintaining good overall health and preventing muscle imbalances. To improve posture, individuals can incorporate certain habits into their daily routine, such as:

  1. Practising regular exercise and strengthening activities that target the core, back, and postural muscles.

  2. Being aware of body alignment when sitting, standing, or moving.

  3. Avoiding long periods of sitting or standing without breaks.

  4. Using ergonomic furniture and accessories that support proper alignment.

  5. Doing stretches and exercises to counteract the effects of sitting or poor posture.

  6. Seeking assistance from healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, if needed.

By implementing these tips, you can gradually improve your posture and promote better overall health and wellbeing.

Physionique's physiotherapists aim to reestablish balance of the physical tensions in the body's fascia, ligaments, nerves, and muscles by aligning the body parts correctly in relation to each other in order to distribute the forces acting on joints and tissues more evenly. Work with any of our therapists today towards a more pain-free lifestyle.

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