When most people hear the term posture, they remember being told to stand or sit up straight when they were kids. This article is not an effort to have you stand rigidly, just a look at how we hold our bodies and what it can tell us.
Posture comes from the Latin word ponere, meaning to place. It’s defined as “the position of the body; way of holding the body.” The important thing to realize about postural problems is that over the years they can lessen your quality of life to some extent—and, if ignored, are likely to worsen as you age.Whatever postural problem may exist, it affects more of your body than you may realize. Since all your soft tissue is inter-connected (your muscles, tendons, ligaments, connective tissue, etc.), a problem in one area of your body can (and in time, probably will) affect the area next to it. For instance, the muscles on one side of your lower back can tighten, causing your body to adjust by twisting slightly. This can begin to affect your upper back/shoulder area and/or your hip area as your body tries to compensate for this new position brought about by your tense lower back.
In his book The Owner’s Guide to the Body, Roger Golten describes “average” posture: “Slouching, paunchiness, round-shoulders, flat feet, backache, neck and shoulder tension are symptoms of ‘averageness’, and a structure in collapse.”
It’s easier to observe “poor” posture in others because we are unlikely to be aware of our own habitual body positions. When you see someone bent over with severely rounded shoulders or with one shoulder higher than the other, you are probably observing a condition that has developed over the years. True, postural problems can be hereditary or disease-related, but often they are habitual in nature.
Identifying the factors that contribute to these postural imbalances can help you see which areas need to be addressed and changed. Be aware of occupational influences, such as how you sit at work, and how you hold your body during recreational activities or during sleep.
Other influences to consider include tight clothing and certain types of footwear, as well as furniture that doesn’t properly support the back.
If you think of your body as a structure with your feet as the foundation, your legs as the main weight-bearing framework, etc., you can get a better idea how important your posture is. A building that loses its stability begins to shift, the walls show the stress through cracking, and in time the dwelling becomes uninhabitable. When it comes to a body out of structural balance, those complaints in the back, neck and shoulder area might actually come from an earlier imbalance in the feet, legs, or hips.
Now for the good news. When you get a full body massage, one of the many benefits you receive is having “the whole you” worked on. By relaxing tension from head to toe, the many interconnected areas of your body have the opportunity to return to a more normal condition. Much emphasis today in the natural health field is on treating the whole person, and this is one area where massage shines.
Regular massage sessions can help you to maintain the structural gains you receive by helping to keep your body “tuned up” physically. So be sure to make your massages a priority! Book now on-line or call us on 8536 8366
© 2006 Massage Marketing. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
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Some hints to help you avoid back trouble
• Prior to physical activity, spend a few minutes warming up (stretching, etc.)
• Select comfortable footwear. The higher the heel, the greater threat of back pain
• Remember to keep your back straight and bend your knees when lifting. You should let your leg muscles do most of the work and hold the object you’re lifting close to your body.
• Pushing a large object is preferable—it puts less strain on your lower back than pulling.
• When carrying anything on your shoulder, be sure to switch the weight to the other shoulder occasionally—let your shoulders share the load.
• Avoid sitting or standing in one position for long periods of time.
• When sitting, put your knees about an inch higher than your hips to help reduce the strain on your lower and upper back muscles.
Reference: The Complete Handbook of Health Tips
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