"My posture is horrible!"
How many of us have thought this or said it out loud?
A lot of people tell me this in a semi-shameful way as if there's something to be embarrassed
about but the truth is that we all do it!
I bet even as you're reading this now your posture is less than ideal. If I'm honest, so is mine as I'm writing it! And what does that tell you? Someone who's job it is to correct postural imbalances and educate others on the importance of good posture finds himself slumped over just like everyone else.
I see bad posture in athletes as well as sedentary folk so why is it that those who are less physically active tend to be the ones suffering from chronic pain caused by postural imbalances?
There are many, many answers to this question. Some obvious, others not so obvious. But the stand-out point is that the more physically active you are, the better your bodily awareness, something called proprioception.
If you're prone to lower-back pain and suffer from the occasional flare-up, how many times was it triggered by something as innocuous as tieing your shoe laces or reaching to pick up a small object from the floor? Based on the patients I see in my clinic, I'm guessing - A LOT.
The difference between those who are sedentary and those who are more physically active is that the physically active lot are more likely to adopt the correct posture when it matters.
If you're slumped over your phone sat on the sofa then it's obviously not ideal - but it's not the worst thing in the world either. It's when you are about to put yourself in a potentially dangerous position posturally that you need to tune in to what your body is doing and assume the best posture for the task.
These are the times that you need to exercise some proprioception.
For example, it's always the way that, when you have tweaked your lower back, your posture to pick something up off the floor will suddenly become immaculate!
Of course, postural imbalances over time can lead to chronic tightness of certain muscles which, if left untreated, can become worse to the point that they can diminish your quality of life. If you think you have any then it's a good idea to get them checked out and treated before they become a problem, which they inevitably will further down the line if left alone.
The muscles that are shortened by incorrect posture are more susceptible to become even shorter and tighter than they already are, leading to their opposite muscles getting longer and weaker. This process is known as the altering of length-tension relationships and can leave you vulnerable to injury. If this isn't rectified in the early stages it can lead to a vicious cycle that will get worse over time.
The truth is, most of us have far from perfect posture most of the time - and it's completely normal! But if you are beginning to notice aches and pains that aren't going away that you think might be related to your posture then get them checked out by a suitably qualified soft tissue therapist before they get any worse.