As physiotherapists, one of the first things we assess is posture.
Posture simply implies the position of the body when a person is standing, sitting or lying down. Posture is not static. It is always changing, depending on the function that is required of the body. For example, your posture in sitting will be different from your posture when you’re running. When we assess posture, we are looking at what position your body generally assumes to accomplish tasks.
When we work on rehabilitation for musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction, posture is an extremely important part of treatment, as we are looking to alleviate any unnecessary strains on bones, joints, muscles and soft tissues.
…But that is only a part of it.
The musculoskeletal system, specifically the skeleton, is a scaffolding of sorts. Our bones provide anchor points from which muscles and other soft tissues attach to and from. The soft tissue, which includes fascia and connective tissue, attach other structures such as organs, blood vessels, and lymphatic tissues, also to the skeleton.
So when the body adopts a certain posture, not only are the bones and muscles and soft tissues affected, but all the other structures of the body may be affected as well.
Now, thankfully, the body is a very adaptable piece of machinery. When certain structures may be strained, compressed, or stressed, the body has a way of compensating in whatever way it needs to ensure optimal and proper functioning. However, over a prolonged period of time, compensations may start to break down because certain structures may be overused or over-strained.
For example, recent studies have actually been able to isolate a direct correlation between poor positioning of neck muscles and an increase in blood pressure. With the increased use of computers and technology, more often than not, we as practitioners see a lot of what we call Forward Head Posture.
Now, these studies have shown that when certain neck muscles are tight and overused, as they would be in this posture, there is an increase in signals to the brain stem. The brain stem is the part of the brain that is involved with regulation of heart rate and blood pressure. Studies have shown that the increased signals to the brain stem then cause a direct increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Long-standing high blood pressure then results in what doctors call hypertension, which is treated with medication and results in a higher rate of cardiac disease and strokes.
Postural patterns may have adverse effects on fascia which could impede proper blood flow and lymphatic flow in certain areas. These patterns could also affect the nervous system which may then affect input to the heart and the blood vessels, causing more strain than necessary to function properly.
In our movement rehabilitation programs, we first focus on teaching patients NEUTRAL SPINE. When in neutral spine, there is the least amount of tension and compression on soft tissue and other structures of the body. As well, the core muscles are engaged properly to maintain this position and giving the body stability. Once stabilized, the right muscles are being used which may then lessen the compensatory mechanisms.
STAND UP TO POOR POSTURE! Check out our website for classes that may benefit you. Call or Email our office today and get started in our Movement Rehabilitation program, specifically tailored to YOUR needs. The only regret you will have is that you didn’t sign up sooner!
Many thanks to Jessica Tupling, RMT for posing for our unflattering Forward Head Posture photo.