Why is Your Posture So Important?

I am a chiropractor, a humble manual therapist, thus I’ll let you into a little secret well being is obtainable through exercise, diet and changing some of the more harmful habits that we, as a society have acquired through our daily lives. I’m going to talk about just one aspect of overall health, posture, or to be more precise faulty posture. There are very few, if any people within our society that have a good understanding of posture and how we can manage faulty posture. Firstly take a look at the picture below, do any of these postures remind you or yourself or another person that you know? Now examine yourself in a full length mirror, ask yourself how am I standing? Do I favour one side more than another? Is one shoulder elevated above the other? Have someone take a picture from the side, is your chin jutting forward? Do your shoulders roll forward, do you have an increased curve through the upper and mid back? Do you have increased arch in your low back? From the back you can assess your shoulder blades, are they level? Does one blade come away from the spine differently from the other? Is your back straight or are you leaning to one side? Does your pelvis look level and if you look further down are your knees knocking together or is there a deviation at the ankles? Does one foot rotate out more than the other and the list goes on!

posture and back pain

There are ways of changing posture, most of the variations that I see are functional (can be changed) and not structural (can’t be changed). Faulty postural habits that are functional can be changed with advice, strengthening and conditioning programme and manual therapy. Often these changes are not difficult to obtain, but just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will your posture change overnight and you will have to be persistent if you are committed to achieving the best posture available to you.

The befits of posture are many, ranging from appearance to improved physiological health. Appearance is important in todays society and can help you achieve a greater level of success, Huang and colleagues studied posture in a study titled “Powerful postures versus powerful roles” from one experiment they demonstrated that role and posture independently affect participants’ sense of power, but posture is more responsible for activating power-related behaviours. In a second experiment they discovered that participants in the expansive body posture condition took action more often than those with constricted postures.

Physiological changes, if your body is not held in a correct manner then many organs can not work correctly. If your shoulders are sagging forward then your chest will be cramped and your lungs will not be able to expand fully, preventing you from obtaining enough oxygen. A slumped posture will increase pressure on the digestive system preventing healthy digestion from occurring. This will also put strain on the muscles and ligaments of your back which will increase the chances of acquiring back pain. A poor posture will result in muscle aches, weakened ligaments, stressed and painful joints, cramped organs, poor blood and lymph flow and a general feeling of lethargy due to reduced oxygen content within the blood.

Healthy body posture can be achieved by re-education of faulty postural muscles and increasing joint mobility. At West Wickham Chiropractic Health Centre we have a strong team of people that can assist with setting you on the road to improved posture and with that an increase in your well being and potential success in life. Thank you for reading and I hope that I have gone someway to getting you on the road to better posture!

Shoulder Pain – Self help

Shoulder pain – what you can try at home

Firstly modify your activity, relative rest will help! Don’t “push through it” as this can stress the tendon further leading to a greater risk of further damage.

The aims of the treatment are

to reduce the stress on the tendon(s) so that your body can try and heal the area.
to break the pain cycle. Change things!

How to reduce the stress on the tendon

If possible, stop the activity that causes pain or find a different way of doing it.

For example, you may find that you tend to use your arm at shoulder height. Try to avoid this by raising yourself up (i.e. using steps for sustained overhead activities).

Another common movement that aggravates shoulder impingement is raising your arm with the elbow twisted outwards. Try keeping the elbow in and then raise your arm, palms up to the ceiling, so you are trying to clap your hands up overhead, similar to a waiter balancing a tray on their palm. Is this less painful? It may feel extremely awkward to begin with – however, with practice, it will feel more familiar.

Remember your shoulder blade is half of your shoulder joint. Look in the mirror, is your shoulder blade lower on the side that hurts? You’ll need a tailored strengthening progrmme with which we can help.
Think about your posture – try and gently ‘square’ your shoulder blades, keeping your elbows and body still.

In addition, try sitting with your arm by your side, with the elbow propped on an arm rest. This will tend to keep the shoulder blade up.

• If you are involved in a sport/profession using repetitive movements, seek expert advice on your technique. A chiropractor can give you advice on your movement patterns as well as appropriate stretching and progressive strengthening exercises.

How to influence/break the pain cycle

All the ideas mentioned above can reduce the pain. Specific treatments may also help.

Pain medication (i.e. tablets, seek advice form your pharmacist or GP)

Try using anti-inflammatory cream or gel on the area (from chemist without a prescription, but check you have no allergies or conditions that are influenced by these drugs).

• Try using a wet ice-cube and massage it over the tender area for 10 minutes.