The change of seasons is a good time to take stock of your health. One way to improve your general well-being is assessing your posture and understanding how changing it can decrease your daily aches and pains. Although many think that pain is an indication of a problem, it can also act as a hint to what our bodies need. Pain indicates that our movements and posture need to be altered. When our movements and posture are correct, daily aches and pains are often alleviated.
One question many people have is regarding pain and exercise. If exercise is so good for us, why is it often painful? From aching knees on long runs to sore wrists during tennis, our favorite exercise activities are often what leave us most uncomfortable. One theory is that the motions we perform while exercising fall into two categories: Design motion, which is "correct" and does not create pain, and incorrect motion, which causes pain. Design motion depends upon Design posture. Let's review what good posture means: the body should be perfectly balanced. The major joints (ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders) should be aligned and parallel. The torso and head should be centered. When you have good posture, your body will create shock absorption and distribute the forces of our activities, which leads to better bone and muscle mass. Muscles are where posture issues lie, and developing them is increased by Design posture, in turn leading to less pain. Motion is the key for maintaining muscle strength and balance. Positive motion is created by your posture being balanced. Pain is triggered when the body is not balanced and out of tune with its design. If you look at the body as a unit, with each part affecting the other, it's easy to understand why maintaining postural balance is important to reducing pain!
So how do you tell if your posture is balanced? Two simple tests are recommended. First, stand barefoot on a flat surface. Relax your arms and step in place a few times. Then, stand still, close your eyes, and fell where your weight is in your feet—feel left to right, front to back, and side to side. Ideally, the weight should be balanced on the balls of your feel. If it's not, you do not have Design posture, and may be why your activities cause you pain. The second test requires a full length mirror. Stand in front of it and take a good look. Then see if your shoulders are level. Check if your feet are pointed straight ahead. If you have even shoulders and straight-pointing feet, you have minor deviations. If you noticed that you shoulders are not level or your feet do not point straight, you have postural deviations. If you are not already experiencing aches and pains, it is likely that you will in the future.
A pain-free lifestyle is obtainable no matter what you saw in the mirror. There are many ways to correct your posture. Posture-specific exercises and stretches will form new muscle memory so that your body will remember how it is designed to function. As muscle memory expands, pain will decrease. You can also make an appointment with our staff chiropractor Dr. Andrew Zurek for a complete posture analysis and a free consultation if you are a new patient.
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