Spilling the Tea on Posture
If you’re like the old me, you think you have terrible posture. You blame the persistent pain you feel in your back or your neck on your slouching shoulders and heavy head. Maybe you’ve been told that you need to correct your posture or asymmetries – and by doing so, your pain will go away.
I want to share with you what I have learned in my work and studies as a licensed massage therapist; posture does not equal pain! Structural pathologies do not equal pain. That’s right, postural and structural asymmetries (for example: rounded shoulders, one leg being a little longer, or a tilted pelvis) are neither predictive nor causative of pain.
Did you know Usain Bolt has both a leg length discrepancy and scoliosis?!
And, 80% of the healthy adult population has an anterior pelvic tilt with no low back pain!
That means you don’t have to blame yourself or your body for the pain you may be experiencing. Many factors contribute to how we feel or don’t feel pain. Our stress levels, our biological make-up, our relationship with others, and much more - all affect how we individually experience pain.
What to do about your posture, and what to do about your pain?
As far as posture goes, I love the saying “the next posture is the best posture.” This means, a variety of postures and changing it up often is important. Having “perfect posture” is not. In fact, we know that hyper-vigilance, like attempting to maintain “perfect posture," can exacerbate pain. So have fun moving and discovering your own unique postures, and don’t worry about sitting up perfectly straight!
Pain affects our quality of life in a big way. Because the experience of pain is influenced by many different factors, a varied approach is often beneficial in working with persistent pain. You may find a combination of tools are helpful – such as movement practices, mental health therapy, meditation, spending time in nature, connecting with a friend or loved one, massage therapy, bodywork, stress reduction, nutrition considerations, getting quality sleep and especially engaging in any activities you find pleasurable!
If you have questions on posture and persistent/chronic pain, or you’d like to explore how I can offer my support around accessing your own relaxation response to help with chronic pain through massage and bodywork, I would love to connect!
Dani Oliver, LMT