What is good posture?
Posture is a word that is thrown around very often.
When people think about posture, the common concept is that it is one perfect position that is to be sustained for periods of time.
The reality, when it comes to a normal functioning body is that posture is about movement variability. This means the ability of the body to move with confidence without pain in multiple different positions and to be able to hold these positions for periods of time.
All too often, people talk about being sore or experiencing discomfort when they are in a particular position. If you think of a person sitting at a desk where they’re slightly slouched, this position to the vast majority of people would be considered bad.
Why is this? Because the misconception in the general population is that slouched positions or bending positions for the spine are bad.
This is completely unsubstantiated in the literature. The actual facts are in a person with a healthy back with muscle activation that is strong without issues, this type of position is completely fine. Back and spine is designed to bend, it can stand repeated bending and it can sustain repeated bending with loads such as lifting and twisting and turning.
I keep a 'perfect posture', why am I in pain?
A person with sitting at the same desk with ‘ perfect posture’, yet they too experience back pain. Why is this? How can someone with the perfect posture actually experience back pain, because isn’t it perfect?
Again, in this type of example, this person thinks that by holding a bolt upright position that this is going to help their back in some way or their muscles of their back.
In actual fact, because they stay in this position for several hours at a time, their muscles get tired. When muscles get tired, the metabolites that hold the position build up within the muscle. After a period of time, the tiredness and the metabolites can cause a fatiguing sensation of low level ache which progresses onto burning and could even progress onto pain.
So, if this is repeated on a regular basis, the tissues become more sensitive. The position itself becomes more provocative, because by holding the perfect posture, you’re actually fueling the pain fire as it were.
So I hope you can see that we’re not talking about perfect posture as one particular position but it’s being comfortable and confident and able to hold multiple different positions for different amounts of time at any time of a given day, doing a given task.
So how do we fix these issues, if there is pain as we hold the posture?
This is where movement retraining and as I referred to before, moving variability comes into play. This is the body’s ability to move and change direction and hold positions under load at any time. This can be done by doing particular types of physio exercises, Pilates yoga, gym workouts, etc. But the main thing here is that you need to put the body in the position that it feels a little bit vulnerable in so that it can adapt and improve and alleviate the problem long term.
So when it comes to posture, there is no perfect posture. But there is good movement through range.
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