I’m sure your mom, dad or some older person has told you a million times before to keep your head up, stop slouching and sit up straight! Possibly, to even balance a book on your head to improve your posture… While it seemed like a stress and you got annoyed each and every time, cause it felt more comfortable being slouched…trust me, their advice especially if taken would have been a blessing!
Proper body posture and using proper body positioning has an encompassing effect on an individual physically, physiologically, biomechanically, emotionally and psychologically. It is not a readily seen connection, but it’s a very powerful one.
For a young individual, learning early on how to move right will make a huge difference for the rest of your life. A kid able to successfully participate in games and actually be good at them will have the confidence to stand up for his thoughts, ideas and beliefs without being bullied by peers and life into a corner from which everything looks intimidating. The “I want to do” will turn into “I can do”, opening up a world of possibilities and an adventurous life full of potential.
Getting older doesn’t have to mean becoming less able. But why do most of the people today start to literally fall apart shortly after they “clock” 30 or so? Pollution and stress aside, an overwhelming majority of people can’t move right! The way we walk, the way we run, the way we move in general, often has much more to do with our personality rather than our physical body and its biomechanics. So it’s no surprise that eventually our body starts to give in, and a lot of times it’s really a surprise it lasted THAT long with the amount of abuse going on. Even one year of abusing your hips and knees is dramatic, so what do we expect after 10, 20, or 30 years?
Postural problems refer to health issues that can arise as a result of poor posture. If parts of the body are not aligned correctly then this can produce strain which causes pain or discomfort. Underlying causes may be the formation of bad habit, abnormal body development or poor blood circulation.
Causes of postural problems
Postural problems are typically related to either sitting or standing in an awkward position, irregular walking pattern, abnormal physical development, or illness.
Poor posture places strain on the structure of the body i.e. bones, ligaments, tendons etc. Slouching while walking and standing is a common cause of postural problems as the body is unnaturally pushed forwards. Slouching in a chair or sitting in an awkward position places excessive strain on the back and neck.
Stress on the body’s structure can result in strains and sprains of the soft tissue or fractures of the bone. Injury can also occur in different parts of the body away from the area which is not correctly aligned. For example, problems with the feet can result in knee pain and lower back problems.
Some postural problems are as a result of a medical condition. In adolescents, a condition called scoliosis causes deformity of the spine resulting in lateral curving. The spine can curve and resemble the letter ‘C’ or in the case of a secondary curve the letter ‘S’.
Rounded shoulders are a common condition that is caused by a spinal abnormality. The curvature of the spine causes the shoulders to be pushed forwards creating a hunched posture. Knock knees and bow legs can have a negative impact on posture as the majority of the body’s weight is placed on the instep or out step of the foot.
Poor posture can also be caused by degenerative diseases particularly as the body ages.
Symptoms of postural problems
In most cases, postural problems can be easily corrected and any pain or discomfort is temporary. However some chronic ailments can not be easily treated or may take longer to correct than a short-term problem. In these cases, poor posture can affect blood circulation which can lead to problems with the internal organs and other bodily functions.
Common symptoms of postural problems include:
• Back pain
• Neck pain
• Joint pain
• Foot blisters/corns/calluses
• Muscle weakness
• Muscle spasms
• Tingling sensations
• Poor circulation
• Bowel problems
Diagnosis of postural problems
In the first instance, you should visit your GP if you are suffering postural problems. The GP will first try to rule out any serious underlying causes through physical examination and, if necessary, diagnostic tests such as X-ray, MRI or CT scan.
For many people, postural problems can be treated by simple corrections in the way you sit and walk. However, you may be referred to a physiotherapist, osteopath, chiropractor or podiatrist, as they specialise in correcting the body’s structure.
Proper body alignment in stillness, and proper body positioning in movement, guarantees minimal wear and tear, if any at all. Leaning on one hip will eventually damage the hip joint. Lifting heavy objects with your back or arms’ muscles will hurt and create lasting damage. Landing on the heels when running, putting pressure on your shoulders when swimming, etc. will eventually hurt not just the directly involved part of the body, but everything else as well, like a domino effect. The scary thing is the surgeries never bring about the desired results and often cause even more problems.
Proper body positioning correlated with the work of the leading force on earth – gravity, is a new approach to better and more efficient human movement in athletics and daily activities. But it is not enough to acknowledge and respect gravity; it is paramount to understand how it works, and how it could work to your advantage instead of detriment. While most of us know the concept of gravitational pull, very few comprehend its work and full effect on a human body in motion.
Proper movement through correct body positioning has an incredible power, which seems to completely elude today’s medical establishment. Some of the most serious injuries to our musculoskeletal structure can be prevented with the help of teaching or learning proper movement. Healing the already present injuries is a much tougher question, so we have to change the tides in our favor by putting in effort into prevention, proper education, and extensive dispersing of the right information to the public.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!