Q: I don’t have back pain, but when I look at myself in the mirror, my back and shoulders look rounded. Is that just bad posture?
A: Well, Sue, let me help you understand what you’re seeing. First of all, I don’t think people really grasp what the term “posture” means. For instance, you’re seeing yourself as you are today, but your posture is the result of how you were years ago—maybe even decades.
What does that mean? Your posture, good or bad, is a result of your lifestyle. In other words, your habits, pattern, positions—the things you do every day.
Our bodies are very good at adapting to the environment we place it in. If we look back on our lives, most of us sat in school for 12 years, then maybe we went on to college and sat some more. If you happen to work at a computer, you sit even more. By the time you’re 40, your body has gotten used to sitting, and your muscles are most comfortable in the sitting position. But all that sitting can cause some physical changes that, in turn, can lead to postural dysfunctions. If left alone long enough, these postural dysfunctions will cause structural changes that will be, for the most part, uncorrectable.
One of our subscribers said it best: “Our bones only go where our muscles put them.” If you don’t quite understand that statement, keep reading.
I’ve already told you that our bodies adapt to what we give them and that our bodies can be pulled into abnormal positions based on a number of lifestyle factors. Understanding this concept is more than half the battle, because once you do, you can begin to work on preventing and correcting problems with your posture.
Your rounded back and shoulders are the result of what are called “muscle imbalances.” These imbalances are causing the physical dysfunction you see in the mirror. You are not alone. And you are not the first to have this problem. It has been known about for years—as well as what causes it. Just because your doctor didn’t tell you how to address it does not mean that it can’t be done.
Now for some nuts and bolts. If you’re wondering how your muscles are responsible for the posture you have now, you must understand that our muscles can be either tight or flexible, strong or weak. And they can be in any combination of these four states, from front to back and side to side.
If you look at your rounded back and rounded shoulders, you will see that your head and shoulders are being pulled forward, which would indicate that the muscles in the front of your body are overly strong and/or overly tight compared to the muscles in your upper back, which are weaker and more flexible. That is how I would describe the imbalance between your muscles, which is the root of the problem.
Please realize that your body is and has been undergoing these physical changes for a long time and that there is no quick fix. It is a physical problem that will require a physical solution. There is no pill, injection, or massage that can make your muscles come back into balance. It takes work.
Simply because you know that there is an imbalance and you even know the direction does not mean that you can just start doing a general exercise program. In order to correct a known imbalance you will need to know very specific and very targeted stretches and exercises. If you choose to do nothing, your imbalances will gradually develop into a condition that will cause you pain.
I strongly recommend that you take a proactive approach to your current situation. You are lucky that you do not have pain. It is such a shame that millions of people are suffering from conditions that could have been prevented or corrected years ago, if only they understood how muscle imbalances affect our bodies.
Sue, I hope I have shown you that your problem is something more than just bad posture. I suggest that you seek out a qualified expert in muscle imbalances who can prevent any further progression of your condition.
To learn more about how you can get lasting relief from your Back Pain by using the Muscle Balance Therapy™, we suggest you read the latest copy of our Back Pain Relief Guide. You can get your copy here: Lose The Back Pain
Steven Hefferon, CMT, PTA
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