If you have had a treatment with Reset Sports Massage, you will know that one of the first things I do with a new client is a postural assessment.
- The passive positioning of our bodies against gravity.
- A reflection of a lifetime of habits and movement patterns (nurture/environment).
- Somewhat defined by structural anatomy (nature/genes).
- Affected by occupational and recreational activities.
- Sometimes an indication of a person’s emotional state.
My posture assessments serve the purpose of showing me “The Big Picture”. It can often demonstrate the effect a person’s day-to-day activities have on their body. Do they sit at work, or stand? Do they take most of their weight through one side? Do they play a sport that involves repetitive rotation to one side? These can be useful pieces of information for my treatment plan.
With these fundamentals in mind, there is no “good” or “bad” posture. These phrases are a value judgement, so instead I think of an “efficient” posture vs. a “problematic” posture (and let’s throw in postural deviations somewhere in the middle).
The body is designed to be most efficient when the joints are aligned in a particular way. A deviation from this most efficient posture could cause a person to fatigue quicker due to additional and unnecessary stress on certain muscular structures. As mentioned above, gravity is a key factor in this. Gravity is relentless, and our bodies have to hold up against it all day, every day! If you have a postural deviation, more demand is placed on certain structures in your body than necessary.
Stand up and lean a few centimetres to one side. Count or use a timer to see just how quickly imbalance becomes discomfort!
Research is inconclusive as to the relationship between pain and postural deviation. Just because you have pronated feet, an anterior pelvic tilt, or a forward head posture, (postural deviation) doesn’t mean to say that this WILL cause you pain. However, these can highlight weak, tight, or dysfunctional muscles.
Tissues wear out when the demand placed on them is greater than their ability to repair and adapt. So, problematic posture is any habitual positioning or movement pattern that causes additional and unnecessary strain on the body AND pain. A more subtle problematic postural deviation may produce discomfort at a slower rate.
Posture, as you see, is partially down to habits. Certain habits and movement patterns can be counter-productive in terms of efficient posture, creating a “postural strain”. Particular demands, such as computer work or carrying heavy loads, can be a challenge to our posture. Identifying and altering these patterns can be highly effective in pain management.
So to recap:
Efficient posture = joints all aligned in the most efficient way to withstand the pull of gravity and other postural strains. Balance between muscle groups that allow the body to relax and avoid unnecessary strain on particular structures.
Postural deviations = any posture that deviates from “efficient posture” such as a forward head, scoliosis, or leg length discrepancy. These types of posture may put additional strain on certain structures in the body’s attempt to withstand gravity.
Problematic posture = any posture that causes additional and unnecessary strain on certain structures AND causes pain.