Sit up Straight. Stop Slouching. Uncross your Legs. Never sit more than 30 minutes. How many times have you heard these things? I’m sure, quite a few.
It’s time to re-evaluate our thinking about posture. Just because you have what may be considered “bad” posture doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be in pain. You may think I am crazy, but if I dig into the textbooks, research, and even clinical scenarios around me, posture is not always 100% correlated to an individual’s pain or injury!
Research is extremely limited when it comes to posture related pain and injury. So, who is to say that bad posture causes pain? In the clinic, I’ve seen people with impeccable posture be in just as much, if not more pain than those who may present with “poor” posture.
So, why has “good posture” been a discussion point for decades? For many years, good posture has been idealized. Proper posture has been associated with positions of power, good health, respectability and prosperity. When you think about good posture, what comes to your mind? I know for me things like models, celebrities, royalty, and the military stand out.
Over the years, the medical community has adapted beliefs about posture solely based on anecdotal information. We’ve become fearful to let our bodies move mainly because we’ve always been told to “protect the spine”. Have you ever thought that pain may be a result of not moving our bodies throughout their full ranges of motion? It is typically believed that sitting or standing with “good” posture will protect our spines and bending with a neutral spine with prevent a back injury. Postural ideals have become normalized, and it’s time for this to change!
I’m not saying as physical therapists we do not observe posture. We will, but it’s not always in relation to your pain! We look for postures in relation to specific conditions, muscle tension, protective postures, apprehensiveness and even mood! Did you know stress, lack of sleep, and lack of movement also relate to pain?
So, what do we really need to know about posture? Good Question, right? Let’s examine some of the most important points to take away from this:
I’m not bashing on good posture even though it may seem that way. Props to those who do have picture perfect posture! What I want readers to take away from this blog, is don’t put down those who aren’t picture perfect, because their “picture perfect” may never be the same as yours! Thoughts regarding postural pain stem from anecdotal evidence and not well-researched information. Be your own picture perfect, and if that means having a slight slouch, so be it! As always, if you have any questions about this blog, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at Feldman Physical Therapy and Performance!