3. Sit up straight in your chair to prevent back pain
“Adaptability is not imitation. It means power of resistance and assimilation.” Mahatma Gandhi
There is no inherently bad posture. Now, let me clarify that statement. Are there postures that are better equipped for handling environments, loads, and times more efficiently than others? Of course. But the posture that causes issues is a posture that the body is untrained to handle. There are smaller studies that show there are optimal biomechanical angles each segment of the spine should be in from a structural standpoint to maintain the most stability, but the issue with these studies is that it is very difficult to prove that poor joint angles are the sole culprit for pain. These studies from an engineering standpoint make sense, but again, it is very difficult to pinpoint these angles as the primary pain producer. This is difficult to do because there are a plethora of studies showing “abnormal” findings on x-ray such as kyphotic cervical spine, degenerative joint disease, etc., but the patients are completely asymptomatic. This goes back to the point that posture probably does play a role in pain, albeit a small one.
The role that posture plays in pain is because we have put our body in a position that it is untrained to handle, therefore causing pain or discomfort. For example, if I am a business executive that sits for the vast majority of the day and I don’t exercise regularly, and then I try to go perform yard work for 8 hours on a Saturday, I am going to be experiencing quite a bit of discomfort. I could have perfect form pulling weeds, picking up bags of mulch, and pushing a wheelbarrow, but at the end of the day, my tissues were not adapted to those movements, durations, and loads. Because of this, it leads to soreness, discomfort, and possibly pain. Let’s expand on this example and say that we hired a professional to perform all of that yardwork for us. At the end of the day, the professional uses the same postures and performs the same amount of work, but he was not sore and didn’t experience discomfort. The reason for this is because the professional’s tissues are adapted to handle those movements, durations, and loads.
Here is a great example of tissues adapting to their environment. The Jefferson curl is an exercise used frequently by the gymnastic community to strengthen the soft tissues of the low back. Most people do not have the tissue strength, previous experience, and/or confidence to perform this movement correctly. This goes against all of the pro-posture opinions that you should not flex forward at the lumbar spine to pick up an object. This is an extreme example, but one that deserves some thought. Why are some people scared of this type of movement? Previous experience, previous injuries, anecdotal stories from clinicians, trainers, or friends can all create a standpoint that certain activities should be done with certain postures.
The main takeaway from this article should be that tissues can be trained and adapted to handle various conditions. If you sit all day, you may have to do things such as 10 minute walks every hour or two, Bruegger relief position (https://sportsmednw.com/brugger-relief-position-posture-correction/ ) have an exercise routine, sleep well, reduce stress, etc. to help alleviate minor discomfort throughout the day, but a sedentary desk job is NOT a life sentence for back and neck pain. The human body is incredibly adaptive and can handle pretty much anything that we try to throw at it, we just have to train our body to meet our daily demands.
Stay strong. Stay recharged.
***No content on this site should be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.***