Posture plays an important role in activities of daily living and is essential for good health. Poor posture leads to muscle stress, headaches and fatigue, which contribute to decreased circulation and a weakened immune system. A weakened immune system leads to lack of energy and frequent illness. It is therefore important to understand what causes poor posture and to learn how Osteopathy can ease the muscle strain and improve the biomechanics associated with poor posture.
Poor posture is caused by a misalignment of the musculoskeletal structure. There are two types of misalignments: structural and functional. Structural misalignments are internal and usually present at birth, such as misalignment of the bones in the toe or one leg being shorter than the other. Functional misalignments are caused by external, or environmental, factors such as repetitive motion and being in the same position for extended periods of time.
Most bad posture is a result of functional misalignments. Every-day activities such as sitting watching television, playing video games or quilting can lead to strain because of the repetitive motion involved and the position assumed while doing those activities. Truck drivers and clerical workers often have postural strain because they are in a sitting position for extended lengths of time. Computer operators often develop a functional misalignment because of sitting for extended periods of time as well as being hunched forward looking at the screen.
When the body is out of alignment, the centre of gravity is not balanced; this causes some muscles to become weak and other muscles to become overused. This muscle imbalance leads to tight lower back muscles, neck and back pain, sore knees, pulled muscles and pinched nerves. Pain causes us to further alter our posture, often resulting in more problems. It then becomes a vicious cycle: poor posture causes muscle instability, which causes pain, which worsens the poor posture, which increases the muscle imbalance and increases the pain.
Osteopathy can help break this vicious cycle. It can prevent the build-up of muscle tension that is a result of postural strain due to excessive or repeated use. Osteopathy loosens tight muscles and improves joint movement; as the muscles are loosened and flexibility and range of motion are increased, the body is able to adopt a better posture. This, in turn, reduces muscle imbalance and leads to proper alignment, which leads to better posture.
Exercise is often recommended to help counteract the postural strain and muscle imbalance caused by sedentary activities and occupations, but it is important to recognise that exercise and sports can also lead to bad posture. Each sport places emphasis on a specific set of muscles; while some muscles are being strengthened, other muscles become weakened. The hyper-toned muscles become tight, causing pain and restricting flexibility and range of motion. Secondary muscles then take over to try and compensate, which results in overuse and muscle injury. The athlete protects the injured area, which negatively affects his or her posture and puts increased stress on one set of muscles.
Osteopathy helps release the hyper-toned muscles and allows the stretched and tired muscles to not be overused by improving the biomechanics of the entire body. It also improves circulation to the damaged muscle, which promotes healing of damaged tissue.
Osteopathy can play an important role in counteracting the effects of poor posture. More important, Osteopathy can help reverse bad posture and keep your body relaxed and in proper alignment. For more information about how Osteopathy can benefit you, call us today or book online.