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How is YOUR posture?

How you spend the majority of your day will have an effect, good or bad, on your joints. Above is a photo I took in the clinic of someone who to came to me with shoulder pain. She was in a lot of discomfort and it was starting to affect her work.

Before I start any assessment I always check posture. I can gain huge amount of information about the potential underlying cause just by looking at how somebody stands, sits and moves.

Your brain is constantly seeking information about what is going on around you. Your head contains many of the sensory receptors; sight, sound, taste, movement, balance etc etc etc. Because of this you continually strive to centralise it within your body. No matter what happens throughout your body, your head will try to gain a central position. This can be seen in the picture above. The photo on the left demonstrates a 'sway back' posture. The head is in the centre but the thoracic spine (upper back) is rounded, the hips are pushed forward, the knees are over extended and feet are over pronated.

I would expect this person to have -

Tight muscles in the upper back of the neck and weaker muscles at the front.

Lengthened muscles over the thoracic spine and tight pectorals

Weak anterior hip muscles, overactive glutes and potentially a posteriorly tilted pelvis

Hamstrings may also be tight

All of this information is apparent before any hands on assessment. The pain in this case was being caused by the muscles around the shoulder blades being overworked and weak. Being in this posture throughout the day and with heavy lifting was having an effect.

Trying to correct a posture like this without Physiotherapy help can be difficult. Physiotherapy can help release the tight muscles with massage, myofacial release, stretches, acupuncture and taping. A strengthening program is likely to be included, which often in my case is based in Pilates. The program will always be adapted to your lifestyle to make it simple to adhere to. In addition to this making sure you are able to correct your posture, as in the second photo, not forcing a military style posture which may contribute to your discomfort. Management of any pain or other symptoms is also key to the Physiotherapy input. You will be advised on ways to stop or reduce the pain until you are able to hold a better posture throughout your day.

Your standing posture is important but also how you sit at home and work, how you lift and how you move and exercise. Having a pillow that promotes a good sleeping neck posture is important and a supportive matress may also help. Please see my other blogs about the 'groove pillow' that I love and also check out my Display Screen Assessment (DSE) for standard and for Pregnancy ergonomics.

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