Does Your Posture Affect Your Pain?
Does your posture affect your pain? That is the question many patients are asking themselves. Is the back pain that we have the result of an exotic medical disease, such as spinal stenosis or myelopathy, or are we simply suffering because our posture is bad?
Posture Defined. Posture is a difficult concept to define. In general, it describes that position that the parts of our body is in, when we are in certain positions, or are engaging in certain tasks and activities. For each activity or position, there is an ideal position that our bodies should be in - in order to put the minimal amount of strain on the muscles and joints of our bodies. When we assume positions that minimize strain on our muscles, soft tissues (ligaments and tendons), and joints, we will be less likely to experience pain, and we may able to prevent conditions associated with muscle and ligament strain. Throughout the course of a workweek, we often spend hours at a time in the same position. We may spend several cumulative hours standing on the subway train, sitting in our car, or staring at our computer screen in out office. Or we may perform the same physical movements hundreds of times throughout the course of a week, when we are at work, whether it be lifting or transporting objects or leaning forward and typing at the computer. If we are exhibiting poor posture while doing all these things, it could end up putting a lot of strain on the ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joints of our back. The ligaments of our back are especially vulnerable, and may be loosened repeated movements and postures in which they are pulled beyond a healthy range of motion. We may feel back pain or neck pain as a result of the stretching of the ligaments, or we may feel pain as a result of other structures of the spine that are injured or through out of their proper alignment, as a result of the instability caused the ligament loosening.
Here are some of your options available for you to improve your posture.
Standing or seated: Unless we are sleeping, we will spend the majority of the day in the upright position, while sitting upright, standing upright, and walking. In most cases, our backs should be completely straight while we are in the upright position, especially when we are seated while working. When we are seated in a chair, our backs should be straight, our shoulders should not be slouched forward, and our head and neck should be positioned vertically.
When considering your ideal standing position, imagine having an outer body experience, and being able to remote view yourself. Imagine hovering above your own body and pointing a laser straight down. If your body is in its ideal position, the laser would pass through your earlobe, the front of the shoulder, the center of your hip, behind your kneecap and in front of your anklebone. If you were to trace the path of the laser while you were in your ideal seated position, the laser would pass through the same locations except the front of the anklebone.
Walking: Besides sitting, you will probably spend more time walking than doing anything else. The first step you take towards analyzing your walking posture should be to examine the shoes or sneakers that you use most often. The wear patterns in the soles may reveal a lot of information about the way you walk and the way your foot hits the ground. Is your wear equally distributed on the show? Excessive wear on one side of the heal or sole of the shoe may reveal a problem with your posture.