Certain health problems that are frequently reported in association with abnormal postures include:
- Tension headaches
- Overuse syndromes
- Easy fatigability
- Decreased sports performance
- Decreased healing capacity after injury.1
Discovering and helping to relieve postural problems is an important part of an inclusive health analysis and treatment program.
How can my posture affect my health?
Normal posture is the ideal balanced position your body should assume to counteract the force of gravity whenever you stand, sit, walk, or sleep. Abnormal or poor posture occurs when your body isn't receiving proper support in its struggle against gravity. Certain health problems that are frequently reported in association with abnormal postures include tension headaches, overuse syndromes, easy fatigability, decreased sports performance, and a decreased healing capacity after injury.1
Maintaining a balanced posture primarily depends on three factors: your skeleton/joints, your muscles/soft tissues, and the messages your brain sends to your body. If there is an imbalance in the length of one or more of your leg bones, or if any of your support joints (ankles, knees, hips/pelvis, neck) are not moving properly, unequal pressure can occur which may cause postural problems. Weak muscles or lax connective tissues may limit the body's ability to maintain proper balance. And finally, your brain regulates how your body is positioned during the day. You don't have to consciously remind yourself, "Don't tip over!" while you're standing - your brain does that for you. However, over time your body and brain may make some compromises on what's best for you by favoring short-term positions (slouching, adapting to avoid painful movements, etc.) that feel good, but can lead to increased postural problems later on. And the longer inappropriate postural positions are maintained, the more likely they are to become your standard way of sitting, standing, walking, or sleeping.
Can my posture be improved, and what's the best way to do that?
In most cases, posture can be greatly improved; however, it may require more than just telling yourself to "straighten up". Discussing your posture with your healthcare provider is an excellent place to begin.
How can my healthcare professional help improve my posture?
While every patient's case is unique, your healthcare professional will probably perform a postural analysis of you early on, to obtain precise measurements and determine the extent and cause of your postural condition. X-rays may be required, and often important information can be obtained through a simple evaluation of your standing posture2 in an analysis system like Posture Check®.
During the analysis of your posture, it may be determined that you have a postural imbalance in your feet, pelvis, torso, or neck (or other part of your body). Your healthcare professional may also determine that your postural health would be likely to improve with rehabilitative exercise and/or some type of supportive product when you are standing/walking, sitting, or lying down. Supportive products might include a Postural Back Rest (PBR) for your sitting posture, or Cervical Support Pillow to support your neck and spine while you sleep. Ask your healthcare professional if either of these support products might be beneficial for your condition.
What type of exercise would be best for my postural problem?
Only your healthcare professional can give you an accurate answer to that question. However, when exercise is recommended, many healthcare professionals choose to prescribe one of the following home-care systems: NECKSYS® (for the cervical spine); BACKSYS® (for low back and pelvis), or Thera-Ciser™ (for ankle, knee, hip, or shoulder joints). All three systems help to strengthen weakened or injured muscles/joints through a series of pain-free resistance exercises. Ask your healthcare professional if any of these systems might be helpful in treating your postural condition.
What if my postural problems start in my feet?
If there is a structural imbalance in your feet which is affecting your postural health, your healthcare professional may prescribe orthotics to help your feet maintain their structural and functional balance as you stand, walk, or run. Check with your healthcare provider to see if spinal/pelvic stabilizers might help improve your postural condition.
- Cailliet R: Soft Tissue Pain and Disability, 2nd ed. Philadelphia: FA Davis, 1988:13.
- Bullock-Saxton J: Postural alignment in standing: a repeatability study. Austr J Physiother 1993; 39:25-9.
courtesy of www.footlevers.com