The Strength to Overcome Pain
In my role as an acupuncturist I see a lot of people who are suffering from one kind of pain or another whether it be back or neck pain, joint pain or headaches. Fortunately, just about everyone leaves feeling much better as one of the things acupuncture does well is release areas of chronic tension, reduce inflammation and help the nervous system rebalance.
So You’re Pain Free, What Next?
Once people are feeling consistently pain free I try to ensure that they take up some form of supervised strength training whether it be working with a Pilates instructor, an exercise physiologist or a switched on personal trainer. That’s because, in my experience, the vast majority of ongoing pain is caused by postural weakness. The best way to retrain your body and resolve postural weakness is by working with an expert. Changing your posture can be a long term project as the way we sit, stand and move feels ‘normal’ to us but usually we’ve picked up some bad habits along the way that are causing less than optimal movement patterns.
The Office Slump
Take for example the classic posture of a sedentary office worker: shoulders slumped, chin jutting forward, abdominal muscles switched off and lower back slouching. Whilst this ‘path of least resistance’ posture may feel comfortable and easy to sustain, it causes big problems. Sitting like this for many hours a day causes crucial postural muscles to switch off and become chronically weak whilst leaving the work of holding your body upright to a few habitually overworked and consequently tense muscles. To make matters worse, it’s impossible to breathe properly in a slouched posture, which compounds the tension build up, depresses your mood and flattens your energy levels.
Banish the Niggles
Sustaining better posture requires both mobilising areas that are tight and restoring strength to areas that are weak. The good news is every incremental improvement in posture results in less chronic tension in the body. We’re not aiming for perfection here, just to be free from aches and pains and have freedom and ease of movement.
A Note on Standing Desks
Changing positions throughout the day is an improvement on sitting still however most people’s standing posture is just as problematic as their seated posture. So the need to work on your posture still applies.