Common Postural problems and conditions
You might be surprised at how much of an impact a 'tiny' postural deviation can have all over your body. When you understand that, just like a car, we have an specific mechanical design it makes a lot of sense that one 'tiny' thing can, over time, lead to build up of other problems elsewhere.
Have a good look in the mirror (or ask a friend to take some photos) - how many of the below deviations do you suffer from?
These are by no means an exhaustive list of postural deviations, but are some of the most common. Often one deviation will be accompanied by another, as the body works as a unit and will try and correct itself as a unit.
External / Internal Foot Rotation
Otherwise known as having 'duck feet' or being 'pigeon toed'
Close your eyes. March up and down on the spot for a few seconds. Look down at your feet and open your eyes.
If your feet naturally come to rest in any position other than equally parallel and straight ahead (like correct wheel alignment of a car) then you are disrupting the correct load of your joints.
Somewhere, some muscles are not working correctly. These muscles are pulling your feet out of their proper position.
When your feet aren't in the correct position, unnatural wear and tear will set in as you walk and eventually cause you pain.
Knock Knees / Bow legs
Otherwise known as 'valgus stress' and 'varus stress'
When you look at your leg front on, the knee should be almost directly underneath the hip and the ankle should be underneath the knee. This means the leg is able to load correctly, in the manner it is designed.
In many people you will notice their knees are narrower than their ankles, and vice versa. Often people with valgus/varus stress will suffer knee and/or ankle pain. The problem isn't in the knees or ankles. You may notice it is worse on one side than the other.
When muscles in our pelvic area start to tighten/weaken, they start to pull our legs out of functional alignment. This will start to cause uneven wear and tear throughout the joints, especially the knees.
Anterior / Posterior Pelvic Tilt
Look out for lumbar lordosis or a lack of bum to help decide which you have!
The incorrect positioning of your pelvis is probably the most likely cause of pain you get (anywhere) in your body. Our pelvis is what drives both the upper and lower parts of body. If the pelvis moves even a tiny bit out of its correct position it has huge ramifications on the functionality of the rest of the joints within the body.
Imagine a fruit bowl. Now imagine that the fruit bowl is our pelvic girdle. Our pelvis should be like a fruit bowl flat on a table. However, what happens when we sit down too much, is that we affect the length of the muscles that hold our pelvic girdle in position and change the angle of the fruit bowl.
If our pelvic fruit bowl tips back (someone who slouches back a lot) our iliapsoas muscle (the primary hip flexor) becomes very loose and stretched and cannot stabilise the pelvis. If our pelvic fruit bowl tips forward too much (someone who sits up straight but sits too much)* our iliapsoas muscle becomes very tight and holds the pelvis in too much tension.
Most Postural Alignment programmes will have a very heavy emphasis on getting the pelvis back to its correct position - even if you come in for elbow/ankle pain!
*There are other reasons why our pelvis might tilt forward or backward - but these are the most common!
Hips are forward of the rest of the body and the shoulders fall back to keep the body upright and balanced
'Swayback' is another indicator of hip dysfunction and is a 'tell' for muscles within the pelvic and trunk region being too loose and not supportive.
It will affect the functional load put on the knees and ankles and will also often be accompanied by rounded shoulders and thoracic kyphosis. Normally someone with swayback will have a posterior pelvis (but not always).
Swayback is also often accompanied by tight hamstrings, hyperextended knees and weak abdominals.
Otherwise known as a 'hunchback'
Kyphosis is becoming SO prevalent in Western society that it is almost considered 'normal'. It most definitely isn't normal, but it is an epidemic.
Our upper back should actually be pretty straight and lead up into a straight neck. This allows for the correct load on the spine and the flow of oxygen to the brain.
Caused by gravity compressing our spine in our sedentary lives (and not by age), kyphosis can be not only the source of musculoskeletal aches and pains but respiratory problems and headaches as well as it disrupts the positioning of other vital systems within the human body.
Elevated shoulder / hip
One side of your body shouldn't feel better than the other!
Too often it is accepted that we have a 'bad' side and a 'good' side of our body. Technically, both sides of our bodies should be exactly the same.
Over time we become very dominant with one side of our body - writing, carrying, driving, crossing legs, playing sports etc. The leads to elevation and wonkiness.
When you present with asymmetry in the body it means one side isn't working properly and the other side is working too hard.
Rounded shoulders and forward head
'Text neck' - one of the newest chronic postural problems on the block
Rounded shoulders may seem the same as kyphosis and often the two go hand in hand, but they are different. Whilst kyphosis is rounding of the thoracic spine, rounded shoulders is the forward protraction of your shoulders.
When your shoulders slip forward of their intended posture, it affects the full range of motion of your shoulder joint and makes them susceptible to injury when pushed past their (limited) limits. Effectively, rounded shoulders turn your natural 'ball and socket' shoulder joints into 'hinge' joints. When you try and do a 'ball and socket' type motion (like an overhead tennis serve), your adapted hinge joint can't cope with the demand.
Forward head syndrome often also accompanies rounded shoulders and kyphosis and nowadays is normally caused by looking down at a phone too much. This stops your head from loading correctly above your shoulders and puts all the work of holding your head up onto your upper back and neck muscles.
What Conditions are caused by postural deviations and can be treated with Postural Alignment Therapy?
It is easy to become very fixated on our painful and sometimes dramatic conditions and symptoms, but the root cause is often beautifully simple.
Some muscles somewhere are not doing their job properly.
You would be amazed at how many chronic pain conditions are really caused by muscles not working as per their function - falling asleep/getting tight and dragging your bones and joints out of postural alignment.
When the body is out of alignment, joints are not stacked correctly and an unnatural and uneven wearing of the joints set in. You also may suffer a strong burning feeling from compensating muscles working too hard and neurological sensations and pains due to impingement.
Your pain is not a fate you have to resign yourself to. You can improve your posture, alignment and pain. By correcting your alignment, you can re-stack the joints correctly and gravity can exert a positive force onto the body.
Postural Alignment Therapy is not just for people with bad backs from being sat at a desk, it can be used by people who suffer pain from birth defects, medical conditions and old injuries too. Some people are born with postural defects (eg. scoliosis) and, whilst the results may not be so dramatic and may take a bit longer, great improvements can still be made.
Please just contact me and ask questions and I will let you know if I think Postural Alignment Therapy can help!
Back pain (including disc problems)
Repetitive Strain Injuries - Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tennis Elbow, Golfer's Elbow
Wrist & hand pain
Ankle & foot pain
Pins & Needles/Numbness
A general feeling of wonkiness/imbalance
Many other chronic pain conditions.
I'm not a Doctor and I'm not a Physio ... I 'just' teach people to move correctly.
Have a particular symptom or condition you’re trying to deal with? Curious to understand the link between your posture and chronic pain? Want to improve and optimise your sporting performance through moving more functionally and eliminating compensating movement patterns?
Contact me today to see how Postural Alignment Therapy can help you (or your family, friends or employees) help yourself back to your natural functional alignment and maximum health.
I offer free 15 minute phone consultations to clarify what Postural Alignment is all about and to see if it is the right treatment for you. Fill out the form below to get in touch.
Based upstairs at Bevere Cafe & Gallery, WR3 7RQ.
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