It makes good sense that poor posture and improper body mechanics could cause both muscle and joint pain. After all, if a muscle is always turned on it becomes tense and ultimately very painful. If a joint is always stressed or twisted, sooner or later you'd expect something to give, like the meniscus in the knee.
Posture impacting body function
Some 80 years ago, medical doctors considered an erect body posture essential to maintain good health. Less emphasis was paid to nutrition, weight and exercise. Today, millions of people perpetually start a new diet every New Year, buy gym memberships every January. Weight management and exercise has become the new "standard" for good health.
Surgery and drugs came of age in the 1950's, and it seems effectively displaced posture in the medical conversation. Drugs and surgery became the quick and easy solution to an increasing number of ailments. Not until the past decade, has posture made a comeback, but this time it is primarily being embraced by alternative medical professionals who is seeking to enhance health naturally while minimizing dependence on drugs and surgery.
So how is posture and body mechanics connected to good health and well being. There are a number of connections, and they directly or indirectly impact every part of your functioning body.
Posture obviously impacts your muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments. Posture impacts the shape of the cavities in your body that houses your internal organs, digestive system, heart and lungs. Pressure and volume changes their function and efficiency. Let me illuminate a couple of problems you may not readily associate with posture.
Anxiety - What's Posture got to do with it?
You feel tense and nervous all the time, you get tired and fatigue fast. What's going on. Your doctor may suggest you are depressed, overworked, and in need of a break, but since your job makes that unrealistic. You resort to anti anxiety medications. The instructions say it's not safe to drive and side effects include drowsiness, blurry vision, dizziness, forgetfulness, and a number of other side affect that include, for some drugs, increased chance of suicide and stroke.
The solution may be a lot simpler, but you would have to see someone who's first priority is not to write you a prescription and get you out of the office in 10 minutes. This might be your solution to your anxiety—BREATHING. Breathing is the basis of life, but how you breathe is vitally important to your sense of well being and good health. Poor posture, often called Head Forward Posture, collapses your chest. Your Head and shoulders are forward, and your chest is sunk. To illustrate my point, deliberately collapse your posture and try taking a deep breath of air. You can't do it, and that is exactly the point.
Poor posture changes your breathing pattern. Your breath becomes shallow. You may be getting sufficient oxygen, and if your doctor measures your blood oxygen level it may be OK, but having enough air is only part of the problem. Several books has been written about breathing over the past decade—Multidisciplinary Approaches to Breathing Pattern Disorders by Chaitow, Bradly and Gilbert is one of them, and it describes the connection between lack of proper breathing and your blood chemistry. An improper bloodgas balance, particularly a decrease in CO2 partial pressure, changes your blood pH (acidity) which through other mechanisms including to arterial vaso constriction and increased heart rate giving rise to anxiety and dizziness. Kidney function may also increase in an effort to maintain the blood pH level.
Tingling fingers and painful, weak arms.
The blood vessels and nerves to your arms passes through a narrow passage called the thoracic outlet between your upper rib and clavicle bone. This passage is also surrounded by muscles (scalene). Compromised blood flow and or excessive pressure on the nerves in this region due to structural pressure is called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
Poor posture, particularly a head forward posture will drop the clavicle bone like a boom as your shoulders drift forward and down to put pressure on the brachial artery and nerves to your neck and arms. A head forward posture increases the tension in the Scalene muscles which can further serve to compromise the space the artery and nerve need to function properly. A change to a more upright posture where the head is over the shoulders and an elevated chest maybe all that is needed to alleviate the symptoms by getting to the underlying root cause.
The muscles are essentially organized into two groups. Maintaining posture is the work of the postural muscles. These muscles are generally characterized by being weak, but able to endure tension for longer time periods. The other group is called phasic muscles. These muscles are your action muscles—they are strong, but they tire very quickly, so short endurance.
The problem occurs when your posture is off center and non-erect. Gravity literally gets better hold of your body and tries to pull it down. After the Postural Muscles ultimately tire, the Phasic Muscles becomes involved in maintaining your posture, and because they tire quickly, you start compensating for the discomfort by changing your posture. These changes recruit new muscles that tire and so the dance goes on until your body becomes painful and dysfunctional—some times completely disabled. Every area deviating away from the center line develops a momentum which increases muscle strain. It is said that for every inch your heads shifts forward of your shoulders, its effective weight doubles. Consider the impact on your neck and back from carrying your head 3-4 inches forward.
Without belaboring the point further, virtually every function in your body is impacted by posture. Investing in good posture is one of the smartest things you can do for yourself. Good posture is made up of many elements, and it starts with balancing your feet. This is our specialty, and we bring about great results.