Where do you start when you want to work on your aches and pains on your own?
This is the start of a 3-part series on how to address pain and dysfunction in your body with a very simple approach. It has everything to do with posture.
Posture refers to the head-shoulder-hip/hip-knee-ankle spatial positioning of your body from the side and back. The back view is the relationship of body parts to a horizontal plane, in this case the floor. Level shoulders, a level head and flat hips are key. Laterally, it is the relationship of body parts that are in line with each other. If we draw a vertical line next to the body, it should cross the ear, shoulder, thigh and ankle areas in the middle. Both of these should be labeled with the correct posture.
When there are asymmetries in ideal/correct posture, compensation occurs in our body that can cause muscle, tendon, ligament, joint and nerve problems.
Attitude is key
Let’s take a look at your posture. Posture is how your body is from the side and back. Here are some positions that you can see in your own posture.
Always look at the blue figure, or correct posture. Your spine is ideally as it should be. If you have a strong curvature in a certain direction, this will be something you really want to address. Also know this, an overly straight spine can also be a problem.
How did this happen?
Our posture is a combination of patterns that we have established in our bodies over a period of time because of our lifestyle and the way we use our bodies on a daily basis. If bad posture is evident, long-term problems can occur if not addressed. Herniated spinal discs, degeneration of joints and muscles that won’t rest. Many times it is a combination of poor joint movement, tight muscles and poor ligament stability. Most people focus on muscle. Do not have to: Bones and ligaments are just as important as muscles.
The evaluation process
In general, it’s best to work with a friend or family member. If this is not possible, install your camera on your smartphone and take a picture of yourself.
It’s best to see yourself in shorts and a top, or better yet, a sports bra or no top at all if you feel comfortable doing so. Be sure to write what is seen and then refer to the pictures above.
Posture from the back.
– Head tilt / positionDo you see your head tilted to one side or the other from behind? Does your head tilt forward from the side or are your ears over the center line of your shoulder?
– Shoulder height. From the back, one shoulder looks higher than the other, and is it really sharp? If it’s not flat, you most likely have a tight muscle on one side. This can also affect the neck. This will be explained in the next article. From the side it looks like your shoulders are rounded forward. Forward shoulders promote forward head posture.
– pelvis height. While standing, place your hands on the edge of your pelvic bones. When viewed from the side, each arm is the same height. If it is off, it indicates an imbalance in the muscles, joints, or both. This can also lead to leg length inequality, which I will discuss in a later article.
Posture from the side
If you can, hang a weighted string from the end above the ceiling or door wall. If you can’t do this, you need to imagine how the thread hangs.
Stand so that the thread cuts halfway across your ankle on one side. Notice what is in front of or behind the line. This could be that your head is forward and your back is behind the line, or that your hips are out in front of the line. It may also be that your shoulders are out in front of the line, indicating rounded shoulders.
Now go back and use what you wrote to decide which posture is yours.
Write it down.
Now you can go up and reference one of the human models above. Take that into account and in the next article I will discuss which muscle and joint groups need to be stretched and mobilized to begin to fix it. If you can get better posture, it almost always results in a healthier and pain-free body.
A little side note. more people than you think have a slight curvature of the spine from side to side. This does not mean you have scoliosis. Or you can! The sooner you get to a physical health professional, the sooner you can identify it and make drastic changes before it becomes a problem as you age.
Coy Roskosky, DC, “Dr. Coy,” is a highly skilled chiropractor in the Washington, DC area specializing in chronic neck, back, shoulder, knee and wrist pain; sports injuries and performance; carpal tunnel syndrome and TMJ. He uses many techniques to address the underlying pain problem, including Applied Kinesiology (AK), Sacro Occipital Technique (SOT), Active Release Technique (ART), and Activator in his chiropractic practice at National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA.