To understand postural dysfunction a good understanding of ‘posture’ is necessary. Posture can be defined as the relative arrangement of the parts of the body.
Good posture is that state of muscular and skeletal balance which protects the supporting structures of the body against injury or progressive deformity irrespective of the attitude (erect, lying, squatting, etc) in which these structures are working or resting. Under such conditions the muscles will function most efficiently and the optimum positions are afforded for the chest and abdominal organs.
Poor posture is a faulty relationship of various parts of the body which produces increased strain on the supporting structures and in which there is less efficient balance of the body over its base of support.
Most people associate poor posture with having back or neck pain, and in most cases this is true. But even if you have acutely twisted your ankle your body’s posture is still very important to how efficiently your body heals. For example, you are playing football and you twist your ankle, it swells up, so you stop playing and rest for a few days. If naturally your foot posture is poor, ie; flat footed, then as you walk on your now injured ankle you will be putting more stress through the joint on the outside of your foot. This increased stress can cause the weak injured tissue to break down, ultimately leading to further injury and more scar tissue formation.
In the case of neck and back pain, your posture is vitally important. There are four main postural types which we as physiotherapist use to assess postural alignment. Each, other than ideal alignment, has common sets of features associated with it. For example, as you can see from the diagram, if the kyphosis-lordosis posture is present the pelvis is tilted more anteriorly (tipped forward) this causes a larger arch to be present in the low back. Associated with this is tightness in the hip flexor muscles and weakness in the deep abdominal muscles. If this kyphosis-lordosis is your postural type you may find that after standing for long periods your low back starts to ache. This is probably due to undue pressure being placed on the low lumbar facet joints.
As Physiotherapists we try to give people exercises and stretches that will help their postural type and bring them into a more ideal alignment. As you can imagine if you have been standing or sitting in a certain way for a long period of time your pain is not going to change overnight, but as the stress is taken off the painful tissues by bringing your body into a better posture, your body has an amazing ability to heal itself.
Have your posture assessed by one of our Physiotherapists!