Is posture really the problem, or is it the quality of movement? A question that is becoming increasingly prevalent in the Sports Therapy world. There is no gold standard for good or bad posture as body construct varies from person to person, especially when looking at joint build and positioning during movement.
The idea of posture being a large contributing factor to neck, back and shoulder pain has become engrained into many people’s thoughts. Over recent years, the research into “lower back pain and posture” has started to add a new spin on some old ideas. For example, a paper published in 2016 (Lard, Kent & Keating) found that there were no significant correlations between the extent of the lordotic curve (the curve in the lower spine) and lower back pain, of which many participants had excessive lordotic curve but produced no pain, and vice versa with those who were experiencing pain but had an ideal curve.
More commonly than not, the niggly pain we feel around our shoulders, neck and lower back that we put down “bad posture” actually comes from placing ourselves in less-than-ideal positions for extended periods of time. These prolonged positions prompt a response from the body telling us to move through the creation of pain – which a lot of the time we ignore as our busy lives take over!
The body needs movement to keep the blow flow to our muscles efficient and responsive, and this demand isn’t met as readily when we are sedentary in positions such as prolonged sitting at a desk. Whilst sitting, the demand on the circulatory system is reduced due to the limited mobility required to hold us here, resulting in the heart activity slowing thus leading to reduced blood flow to the muscles when they need it the most! This influences the feedback our body gives us and commonly the aching and niggling pain we feel is a result of lack of movement, blood flow, and nutrients fuelling the muscles to keep you going.
A large part of our job as Sports Therapist’s is to educate our patients on good practice, especially when it comes to ergonomics. Although we’re here to fix you when things hurt, we also aim to prevent injuries as well, and the most effective way of doing this for us to encourage you to move throughout the day. Additionally, another way of reducing these aches and pains is to improve the strength you have in your trunk, shoulders and neck, all of which hold us in these fixed positions so if they’re strong and durable then so are you!
If you would like some more information and advice, please get in touch or book an appointment via our website – one of our experienced therapists will be on hand to help you out.
Laird, R.A., Kent, P. & Keating, J.L. (2016). How consistent are lordosis, range of movement and lumbo-pelvic rhythm in people with and without back pain? BMC Musculoskelet Disord 17, 403. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-016-1250-1
Peddie, M. C., et al. (2021). The effects of prolonged sitting, prolonged standing, and activity breaks on vascular function, and postprandial glucose and insulin responses: A randomised crossover trial. Plos one, 16(1), e0244841.