Do you remember as a kid being told to sit up straight or to stop slouching? Now, fast forward to today’s time and take a quick look around. It won’t take long to spot someone face-first into their smartphone, causing a condition commonly known as “text neck”. According to the American Posture Institute, up to 90% of the population has some type of postural dysfunction. Our modern, sedentary lifestyles have paved the way for poor postural habits that negatively affect our body’s ability to function and move freely. We are facing a modern-day health epidemic as we are literally “de-evolving” at the speed of technology!
Proper posture is a key component to optimal health and wellness. Prolonged periods of poor posture cause muscles and connective tissue to tighten into the position that they have been in for long periods such as sitting at a desk all day. Have you ever noticed the longer you sit, the harder it is to get up and moving? Over time this can create pain or make us susceptible to injury, causing us to adjust our posture to stabilize, which leads to more dysfunction, which leads to more pain and compensation, and the cycle continues. Ultimately this pattern affects not just the muscles and tissues, but also the surrounding joints and our physiology (how our body systems synchronize and work together for optimal function). We’ll talk about how it affects our “insides” in a later post.
Most postural dysfunction is caused by repetitive movements, or lack of movement such as sitting. Posture isn’t just important while we are sitting or standing, but also while we are in motion like when we exercise or play sports. Poor posture can lead to excessive strain on our postural muscles. This makes them more prone to injury when we put additional stressors on muscles and joints that are not functioning properly and performing optimally. Have you ever tried to do a hard-core workout after not exercising in years and then ended up hurting yourself? I’m sure it’s happened to the best of us, myself included.
Common symptoms of bad posture are muscular soreness, neck pain, back pain, and headaches. If postural imbalances go uncorrected, further problems can occur such as spinal degeneration, arthritic joints, decreased respiratory capacity, digestive issues, decreased balance, and migraines. These conditions can prevent a person from efficiently performing basic activities of daily living. Can you imagine experiencing pain or discomfort while doing simple daily activities such as cleaning your house or playing with your kids? Unfortunately, some of you already do.
Some factors that contribute to poor posture commonly include stress, obesity, pregnancy, weak postural muscles, injuries, abnormally tight muscles, and wearing high-heeled shoes. In addition, decreased flexibility, a poor work environment, incorrect working posture, and unhealthy sitting and standing habits can also contribute.
Posture changes slowly over time, so it’s not something that most people take notice to until they start feeling symptoms such as mentioned above. They may not realize that poor posture has anything to do with their symptoms, leaving the underlying causes of their symptoms untreated and likely to resurface to cause problems in the future. It’s reported that postural and musculoskeletal problems are the number 3 reason for all doctor visits. With the soaring costs of healthcare, a little prevention now can add up to big benefits in the years to come.
Receiving regular therapeutic massage is a great way to maintain range of motion and joint flexibility when good postural health is present. But what if we already have problems due to poor posture? Restoring structural balance throughout the body with orthopedic massage allows us to focus on the rehabilitation of musculoskeletal dysfunctions caused by poor posture. Orthopedic massage involves range of motion assessment and postural analysis, along with manipulation and movement of soft tissues to reduce pain and dysfunction. In our next column we’ll explore the different types of soft tissues and the common musculoskeletal conditions that can occur when postural dysfunction is present.
You can find out more about Orthopedic Massage at www.integrative-orthopedic.com.
Source: American Posture Institute. Disclaimer: Information in this article is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other medical professional. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider. Information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.