Posture, what really matters.

There is a huge amount written about why we should have good posture and what it looks like so that we don’t get a sore back, neck etc yet there is little or no evidence that posture has any relationship to whether or not you are going to experience back or neck pain, check out the studies below. Many other factors can influence the chances of you experiencing pain ranging from stress levels to how much movement you get in your day. What can happen when we are sitting or are generally immobile for long periods is that changes in the chemistry of the tissues can occur such that you may feel sore. This can be alleviated by simply getting up and moving around regularly and isn’t related to the the position/posture that you are sitting in. Also in terms of the stress we place on the tissues  when we are sitting it is at a level that is very tolerable and easily adaptable to.

When it comes to what we look like when we are moving it is a different matter. If we are engaged in something like running or lifting a heavy object then posture does matter a lot but we are now talking about a much more dynamic situation where there are either moderate to low loads for a long period or heavy loads for a short time being placed on the body, rather than the very low and static load of sitting at a desk. In these situations we need to aim for as good a biomechanics as is possible so as to minimise the stress placed on the tissues. It is in this area of posture that we need to be looking at if we want to ensure that we are doing our best to prevent injuries occurring and we can do this by working on our movement so that we can use good form when we are doing anything strenuous.

1. Grundy, Roberts (1984) Does unequal leg length cause back pain? A case-control study. Lancet. 1984 Aug 4;2(8397):256-8.

2. Pope, Bevins (1985) The relationship between anthropometric, postural, muscular, and mobility characteristics of males ages 18-55. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1985 Sep;10(7):644-8.

3. Grob, Frauenfelder et al. (2007), The association between cervical spine curvature and neck pain. Eur Spine J. 2007 May; 16(5): 669–678.

4. Nourbakhsh, et al. (2002) Relationship between mechanical factors and incidence of low back pain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2002 Sep;32(9):447-60.

5. Dieck, et al. (1985) An epidemiologic study of the relationship between postural asymmetry in the teen years and subsequent back and neck pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1985 Dec;10(10):872-7.

6. Franklin, et al. (1988) An analysis of posture and back pain in the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1998 Sep;28(3):133-8.

7. Lederman (2010) The fall of the postural–structural–biomechanical model in manual and physical therapies: Exemplified by lower back pain. CPDO Online Journal (2010), March, p1-14.


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