Most of us have distinct memories of being told to “stand up straight” or “stop slouching”. Our everyday posture and movements are not something that we consider when we are in pain. However, they can be the biggest and most over looked pain-causing factor in the body. As a Physical Therapist that practices Myofascial Release, I tend to see people with chronic pain. Chronic pain can range from just annoying to life altering. We see it all. Myofascial Release is always successful in changing a pain pattern, no matter how long standing or life altering. The typical first line of defense that people in pain tend to get is a regime of anti-inflammatory medication and exercise. If something hurts, it must be weak, therefore, exercise and strengthen the painful area. This is also our cookbook method that most Physical Therapy clinics tend to follow. This method has proven to be unsuccessful, given our epidemic of chronic pain. More and more people are walking around and dealing with pain. It affects everything that they do from work to home and recreational activities.
One of the key features of practicing Myofascial Release is to look at the whole body, no matter where the pain is. Our muscles span multiple areas in the body. For example, a major shoulder muscle, the latissimus dorsi, starts at the shoulder but connects all the way down in the lower back. The quadriceps and hamstrings both cross two joints, the hip and the knee. They are all encased in fascia which is continuous from head to toe. The longer we live with any pain, the more it will tend to affect other areas. Most often, the pain that gets us to seek attention, is not where the problem originally started. How does our posture cause us pain? Most of us are walking around with muscle imbalances. Our body will automatically compensate for these muscle imbalances. This may quiet the pain temporarily but generally takes more energy from the body. Over time, these compensations build up until the body does not have enough energy to manage all the compensations and the most recent or energy consuming compensation will show up as an annoying pain that will not go away with our usual regimen. So many of us are sitting for longer periods. Even if we exercise on a regular basis, the sitting is detrimental to the normal mobility of our spine and muscles. We go to our exercise classes or trainers and we learn to strengthen our core. However, our “core” is shifted and compressed due to our altered posture that we have learned to accommodate over time. This compressed posture affects the mobility of our breathing muscle, the diaphragm. This causes us to breathe more with our upper chest which is inefficient. It has also been proven that there is a neurological connection between the respiratory diaphragm and the pelvic floor muscles. If you are not breathing correctly in your day to day activities, you are probably not using your pelvic floor muscles. No matter how much you try to strengthen your core, you won’t be successful if you don’t correct the faulty posture. Physcial Therapists are just now starting to recognize the importance of looking at posture and body alignment when people are coming to them for back pain and pelvic floor issues. It’s about time!
In summary, Myofascial Release is a whole body technique. It looks for the cause of the pain when correcting a pain pattern. Most pain patterns involve our every day activities and postures that are repeated over and over. If we don’t correct the posture with the resultant muscle imbalance, we won’t be successful in correcting the pain. Our attempts at exercise and strengthening will probably make the problem worse. I wrote several blog articles last year about how posture creates pain. How we sit, stand, the clothes we wear, wallets in our pockets, etc can all be contributing to our pain. Start making the core connection and look for the source of your pain.
Danielle Markley, LMT is offering a special through Verde Valley Myofascial Release. Introduction to Myofascial Release treatments are being offered at a reduced price for a limited time. Jump on this opportunity to take care of yourself and learn how your every day activities are keeping you from living a pain free life.
Do you have a question about how your posture could be contributing to your pain? Leave us a comment.
Jody Hendryx, PT