Muscles enable us to move, contribute to our shape, maintain posture and produce heat as well as helping us to breathe, digest food, circulate blood and perform invariable other body functions. Approximately 40-50% of body mass is made up of muscle tissue.
Posture is the bearing in which you hold your body plumb when you are standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during activity or weight-bearing movements.
It’s mortifying to hear “Posture is inherited. My parents had bad posture, so did their parents, and so I have bad posture too. I guess I’m just stuck with it”.
What an absolute load of rubbish! The theory of inheriting bad posture is completely false, so why do so many sufferers of back pain believe it?
The answer is simply that medical profession is failing to help people with postural problems. So much trust is put into our doctors, that when they can’t help us, we often give up all hope. What most people don’t realise is that doctors aren’t really experts on posture, and 80% of Australians suffer from back pain.”
Improving your “computer posture” is one of the most effective ways to avoid getting rounded shoulders and neck ache. While we need to be aware of your posture on any computer, using a laptop makes it is especially easy to pick up bad habits.
The trouble with laptops is that they keyboard and display are too close together, which means you are either you are looking down too much which is bad for your neck, or your hands are too high which encourages tense shoulders. If only used for short periods at a time, laptops don’t really pose much risk, but increasingly people are spending more hours a day on them.
A sign of the aging process is poor posture, but it is actually possible to prevent this with posture exercises.
We can’t do anything about wrinkles or gray hair as we grow old… (well, maybe the ladies will disagree,) but it is possible to maintain good posture as we mature.
Obviously, we can’t do that, but watch any child when they are in their preschool years and you will see an example of a good posture. Children naturally hold no excessive tension in their bodies and move effortlessly regardless of what they are doing. We look at them galavanting around and think “I wish I could still do that”. This stops when the child starts school, and is made to sit in poorly designed furniture, in a static position, for hours on end.
Holding the body still for any extended period of time causes the muscles to tire and tense. A typical school chair slopes backwards, thus tipping the pelvis away from the desk. This leaves the child with no option but to round their back and shoulders in order to reach their desks.
In countries where children are not made to sit at school desks, you will almost always see that they maintain their perfect posture into adulthood.
Movement and exercise is commonly overlooked. Actually they are perhaps one of the best posture exercises that you can do to ensure good health. The reason for this is that our bodies are designed for continuous movement. We are never really still for any length of time. Even the act of standing, which many would assume is a static position, actually involves mini movements that are performed unconsciously over and over. An exercise you can try is to stand on one leg and then close your eyes and see how hard it is to maintain your balance. It shows how much we rely on our eyes to make the tiny adjustments in muscle tension that keep us upright.
Despite movement being such an important activity, we often make no plan for it. Instead, people linger and tell their posture has become progressively worse to the point where they have to go and see a doctor. Sadly, the doctor has not much to offer for back pain, and anti inflammatories just hide the symptom doing nothing for the cause. However, if a little exercise were taken a few times a week it would probably have a more significant effect than anything a doctor or surgeon could accomplish.
The major problem seems to be that from the time a child goes to school until a person expires, we are typically expected to spend most of a day in a sitting position. It’s no wonder that so many people have back pain these days when you consider the time that the average adult will spend in a chair.
In spite of age, muscle strength can be achieved even at 70 and above. It’s simply a case of use it or lose it… So use it! Walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, etc are all good posture exercises that you can enjoy and do you a whole heap of good.
Have you ever wondered why one side of your neck sometimes gets really tight. Maybe it hurts to turn your head to the right. Stand relaxed and check in the mirror to see if your left shoulder is raised.
You might be thinking you slept badly the night before, but it might be that your crook neck is an indication of a more extensive muscular imbalance that has been coming on.
Ever felt the outer thigh get really tight or sore on, say, the left leg? Sportsmen might know the muscle as the ITB or iliotibial band. Possibly combined with that the inner thigh (adductor muscles) on the other leg is tight or sore? Stand relaxed with your arms loosely down by your side and check to see if your right hip is higher than the left.
If in this instance your right shoulder is also lower than the left, you probably have at least a mild scoliosis… a curvature of the spine.
Posture gives a remedial massage therapist numerous clues about likely causes of muscular and joint aches and pains.
Qualified therapists are trained to recognise what muscles are likely to be involved in postural imbalances, how to check the muscles for flexibility and strength, and how to loosen or strengthen them if there is a problem.
It can go without saying of course,that postural problems may be due to an injury, a birth defect or other reasons. However, in the vast majority of cases it is simply due to an imbalance in the muscles between left and right side of the body, or the front and back.
As well as Remedial Massage, a therapist will often give stretching exercises to help correct a problem.