Does Good Posture Matter? Maybe Not As Much As We Thought
Let's take a second look at the importance of posture
Sit up straight! Stop slouching. Learn to walk with a book on your head! All in the interest of good posture. We've been told for years and years that good posture can help us avoid pain and that it will save our neciks and backs a lot of grief throughout our lives. We've paid thousands for ergonomic chairs and experts to consult us on how we should sit and where our screens should be positioned. We have done all of the things.
While it is not fair to discount all of the recommendations over the generations with regards to maintaining 'good posture', we also know that ongoing research and updating our knowledge on all things in the world sometimes dictates and update in our thinking. Even when they seem to fly in the face of long-held beliefs and practices.
It seems posture is one of those things.
While I've written on this topic before, it's worth reminding folks that posture may not play as big of a part in our future as we assume it does. Current thinking on posture comes to us via an article in the Journal of Orthopedics And Sports Physical Therapy that was authored by Slater, Korakakis and O'Sullivan and published in 2019.
There is NO single 'correct' posture
They say that despite common beliefs around posture, no strong evidence can be found showing that one perfect posture exists. Also there is no evidence that avoiding 'incorrect posture can prevent back pain.
Differences in postures are a fact of life
They share that there are natural variation in spinal curvatures from person to person and there is really no single spinal curvature that is strongly associated or related to pain. They add that pain should not be atrributed to relatively normal variations. This is why I have never made a 'big deal' out of the lack of curvature we often see on our patients' x-rays. A lack of curvature in the neck on an x-ray is much more normal than it is abnormal. In addition, long-term research over two decades long has shown that a lack of curvature in the neck ultimately doesn't make much of a difference at all. Maybe a little extra degeneration at one or two segments but no extra discomfort, pain, or disability. The concern and worry that can be created by scaring patients about a lack of curvature in their neck is MUCH more damaging and detrimental than the actual curve itself.
Posture reflects beliefs and mood
They point out that posture often offers insights inot a person's emotions, inner thoughts, and body image. Some postures are adopted as a protective strategy and may reflect concerns regarding body vulnerability. Think about it; does a person that is confident, self-assured, and having a great day slump and look sad? Not usually. And that goes the other way as well; those having a terrible day or feeling unsure of themselves aren't typically sitting upright and meeting the day straight on.
It is safe to adopt more comfortable postures
Comfortable postures vary betweeen individuals. Exploring different postures, which can absolutely include those that we've been taught to avoid, and changing habit posture may provide symptomatic relief. This means that sustained poor posture is the enemy. Changing position is important. If you are a dental worker, a driver, a desk worker, or a teen playing on electronics, you are susceptible to sustained, long-lasting, poor positions. That is the habit and can put you a position of repetitive stress. Changing out of that position of habit consistently will likely give you relief.
I want to be clear, it is my opiniion that those playing on their phones all day long without changing postures regularly will pay for it eventually. you simply cannot adopt a position that is that disadvantageous and out of our evolutionary norm, sustain that posture over the course of years, and it NOT be detrimental. In my opinion, that's not possible.
The spine is robust and can be trusted
They mention that the spine is a robust, adaptable structure that is more than capable of safely moving about and loading in a variety of postures. Some of the more common warnings about the need to protect spines overall are not well-based in the research and can lead to more harm and fear than lead to good outcomes .
Sitting is not dangerous
Sitting down for more than 30 minutes in one position is NOT dangerous. However moving and changing positions can be helpful, and being physicall active is importnat for you health. What they're saying here is to not be afraid to sit and work or rest. Sitting, while being the position placing the most pressure on our discs, isn't inherently damaging to our backs as a rule. However, a sedentary lifestyle does lead to depression, anxiety, increased chronic pain, and over un-wellness. So don't be afraid to sit. Just don't stay there all day.
One size does not fit all
The tell us that postural and movement screening does not prevent pain in the workplace. We are all different. One diet doesn't necessarily fit the person standing next to me like it fits me. One position may be more detrimental to me vs. the next person.
To sum it up, when it comes to posture, everyone is different, movement is healing and healthy, sitting too long is not advised, your spine is strong, and quit stressing yourself out over your posture. You can sit any way you want as long as you're frequently changing positions and getting up to move around periodically.
Pain is a heck of a motivator and when we listen to our specific body, we are usually led the correct direction toward no pain.
If we can help you here at Creek Stone Integrated Medical, call us at 355-3000 or visit our website at www.creekstonecare.com and let's get you on our schedule today.
Slater D, Korakakis V, O'Sullivan P, Nolan D, O'Sullivan K. "Sit Up Straight": Time to Re-evaluate. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2019; 49:562-564.
Dr. Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM, DABFP is double Board Certified as a Fellow in Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine and Orthopedics as well as a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Professionals, and chiropractor in Amarillo, TX. As an Amarillo chiropractor, Dr. Williams treats chronic pain, disc pain, low back pain, neck pain, whiplash injuries, and more. Dr. Williams is also the host of The Chiropractic Forward Podcast (https://www.chiropracticforward.com). Through the podcast, Dr. Williams teaches fellow chiropractors and advocates weekly for evidence-based, patient-centered practice through current and relevant research. If you have any questions for Dr. Williams, feel free to email at [email protected] Learn more about Dr. Williams and his practice at https://www.amarillochiropractor.com.
Dr. Williams was voted Best Chiropractor In Amarillo in the Best of Amarillo 2020 & 2021. Dr. Williams's full-time Amarillo chiropractic practice is Creek Stone Integrated Medical at 3501 SW 45th St., Ste. T, Amarillo, TX 79109. If you are searching for a chiropractor near me, Dr. Williams is your Amarillo Chiropractor.
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