Postural Strain

posturePosture is not a position, but a dynamic pattern of reflexes, habits, and adaptive responses to anything that resists you being more or less upright and functional, such as:

  • Gravity, of course!
  • Awkward working conditions, which may be unavoidable (nurses must lift patients!), or self-inflicted and correctable (lousy ergonomics)
  • Abnormal anatomy
  • Athletic challenges

If you start to tip over, or lose the stability you need for a task, postural reflexes kick in and engage muscles to pull you into a more or less upright and/or functional position again. The biological systems and tricks that keep us upright are neat — and surprisingly poorly understood.

Posture is the embodiment of your comfort zone. At worst, it can be like a cage.

Posture is also more than the sum of those parts, more than “just” a collection of righting and stabilizing reflexes — it is the way you live, the shape of your flexible “container,” the physical manifestation of your comfort zone.

We habitually hold ourselves and move in ways that serve social and emotional needs, or avoid clashing with them: posture can be submissive or dominant, happy or sad, brave or fearful, apathetic or uptight.

The challenges and rewards of trying to change posture are not just musculoskeletal, and it can be a personally profound process. Patterns and behaviours that lead to trouble are usually strong.

What is “Poor Posture”?

The basic definition of poor posture is it’s just any habitual positioning that causes unnecessary strain on the body. Simply put, poor posture is “awkward” posture.

More precisely stated now: poor posture is an unnecessary and problematic pattern of physical responses to postural challenges.6Sitting for hours with your knees tucked sharply under your chair is a classic example, and it’s a real hazard to kneecaps — avoidable and entirely caused by a lack of awareness of how knees work.

If anyone ever tells you there’s no such thing as poor posture — a popular skeptical perspective, actually — that example is an excellent rebuttal, and there are certainly others. How much posture matters in general is another question: but for sure there is such a thing as a problem posture.

What about postural laziness? That’s what most people picture when they think of poor posture. The avoidance of postural challenges leads over time to poor postural fitness. If you avoid postural challenges enough, eventually you’ll have trouble coping with them when you have to … and so we’re back to the first definition.

Other than just letting themselves go to pot, why would anyone respond in an ineffective way to life’s postural challenges? Weakness, mood, pain, hang-ups, fatigue, fear, stress, and more!

You’re really off the poor posture hook if your problematic responses to postural challenges just can’t be helped. For instance, an old man may walk stooped over because he has spinal stenosis and it really hurts to stand up straight. That’s not “poor posture.” All that stooping is certainly tiresome, but it’s the lesser of two evils, and it’s the same postural compromise that everyone with painful stenosis chooses. But for a young man, presumably without stenotic back pain, the same posture would be an unnecessary strain—and certainly “poor” and worth fixing, if possible.

How Can Our OHP Kelowna Chiropractor Help?

An OHP Kelowna chiropractor deals with this problem and many other issues arising from poor posture every day.

Many people feel confused that they have any pain at all because they haven’t done anything. However, they forget that 8 hours at a desk a day is an incredible strain on the body. Add factors like stress and a workstation with poor ergonomics and the combination is an explosive mix of the most predictive risk factors for back, neck and arm problems in office workers.

The effects of postural strain may be felt in most age groups – even in school going children. Many patients seek treatment and advice for achy backs and necks however, there are also good proportions who ignore the warning signs and wait until they have severe back or neck pain, often with pain radiating into the leg. Fortunately, Our OHP Kelowna chiropractor will be able to help both groups but we would encourage you to listen to your bodies and seek help before you have a severe problem.

OHP Kelowna chiropractors help free up restricted joints, loosen off muscle and give you advice on how to hold yourself correctly as well as do day-to-day tasks. Patients feel enormous benefit from the treatment and are inspired to try and change their postures to help maintain a healthy spine. They find it easier and more natural to sit up straight and become aware of how to stop mental stress being translated and held in their postures – which can often result in headaches.

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