Bad Posture correction: can physio correct spinal misalignment, joint degeneration, rounded shoulders, and a potbelly?
Yes, a targeted approach will help correct bad posture, spinal misalignment, and pain management. Below is everything you should know about physiotherapy-based posture correction.
QuickTake: based on medical research, physiotherapy has benefits for posture related problems including:
- Leg length discrepancies.
- Kyphosis: muscle imbalance caused by the exaggeration of the outward curve of the spine.
- Lordosis: tight or weak muscles caused by the inward curve of the spine.
- Rounded shoulders.
- Poking chin posture, text neck, and upper cross syndrome.
- Swayback and flat back.
- Scoliosis: a sideways curve of the spine caused by weakened back muscles.
Can physiotherapy correct bad posture and spinal misalignment?
A Public Health Report published in 2007 titled “Computer use and Habitual Spinal Posture in Australian Adolescents, concluded that weekly use of a computer is associated with changes in habitual spinal posture. In males, the main risk is increased neck and head flexion and in females increased lumbar lordosis.
The findings of that report are vital in that they point to a problem that according to NCBI, affects 38.3% of children and nearly 80% of adults. Unlike in the past, today, most of us spend countless hours behind a desk. The consequence of that for many is bad posture and its side effects. A potbelly, rounded shoulders, joint degeneration, and spinal dysfunction are all side effects of bad posture.
Additionally, FHP (Forward Head Posture) or “text neck” is a common postural misalignment that may lead to decreased balance control, headaches, back pain, decreased range of motion, amongst other problems.
How does physiotherapy help correct bad posture/ postural misalignment?
The American Physical therapy association (APTA), defines a physiotherapist as a trained medical professional whose job is to diagnose physical abnormalities, help patients restore physical function and mobility, maintain physical function, and promote physical activity. If you have bad posture, you need one to help improve breathing, strengthen weakened neck, and back muscles, and better your circulation.
Medical research has established that physiotherapy or mechanical therapy is beneficial in posture-related pain management, postural alignment, and balance and gait. Furthermore, physiotherapy exercises help improve range of motion, joint mobility, and flexibility. There is also enough evidence to support the claim that physio reduces muscle spasms, and improves muscle strength and endurance.
On top of all that, a physiotherapist provides ergonomic advice to patients, meaning physio is not a temporary fix.
What are the signs of bad posture?
There are two types of postures. One is dynamic posture, and the other is static posture. The former refers to how you position yourself while in motion, and the latter when immobile.
Having good static and dynamic posture will lessen the probability of developing the problems mentioned above. But what if you already have these problems? How would you know?
Do people around you tell you to stand up straight or to stop slouching? Annoying, yes, but it is good advice. The issue is standing up straight is not as straightforward as it sounds. Try it. Standing or sitting straight does not feel natural, does it?
The reason for that discomfort you are experiencing while sitting up straight or standing tall is weakened back muscles. A study published on Medicina titled “Effects of Prolonged Sitting with Slumped Posture and Trunk muscular fatigue in Adolescents with and without Lower Back Pain,” concluded that, quote:
“Results suggest that when seated in a slumped position for a long time, the discomfort in the lower back increases regardless of muscle fatigue, and adolescent patients with lower back pain are more affected by these postures”
Signs of bad posture
- Do you experience pain across the neck or shoulders?
- Has fatigue and tension headaches become a way of life?
- Do you experience constant aches in your lower back or neck?
- Do you on occasion have trouble breathing when seated?
All these problems may stem from bad posture, and they do not stop there, you may also experience increased muscle spasms, nerve pain, heavy feeling, or numbness in your arms.
Why a physio for posture assessment is important?
Bad posture does not happen overnight, meaning for most people, the problem develops in childhood and peaks in adulthood. By the time you notice, you may already have other underlying problems including, weak muscles, biomechanical abnormalities, and injury. Following a posture assessment, a physiotherapist will help you create a personalised stretching and exercise program that will strengthen muscles and improve mobility and stability. If the underlying cause of pain or bad posture has far progressed, your physiotherapist may recommend the use of postural support equipment that will balance, align, and help correct your posture.
What is an ideal posture?
Keeping your back, muscles, and joints in good condition is essential to develop and maintain a good posture.
A healthy back has three natural curves namely the lumbar curve, cervical curve, and thoracic curve. Consequently, the term good posture means keeping these curves strong and aligned. Remember: Muscles support these curves, and joints balance them.
Good posture while standing
- Straight vertical alignment from the top of the head through the core to the bottom of the feet.
- Viewed from the back: straight head and spine
- Viewed from the front equal shoulder height.
Good sitting posture
- Straighten spine and head and maintain back curves.
The position of your spine is key to good posture. Why? Gravity. Gravity compresses your spine, decreases flexibility, and may lead to poor circulation. Mechanical based therapy or physiotherapy relies on the knowledge of human anatomy and gravity to:
- manipulate muscle positions
- manually grade muscle or strength movement analysis.
- help craft specific therapeutic interventions.
Why is physio for posture correction important, and how does physiotherapy help?
The long-term effects of poor posture include impaired lung function, poor circulation, incontinence, constipation, heartburn, and pain.
When it comes to posture correction, physiotherapists have plenty of options suited for different needs. For example, a physiotherapist may correct posture through massage or manual therapy, corrective exercises, stretching, joint mobilization and muscle stimulation, and exercises that increase range of motion.
Physiotherapy tips to correct bad posture
Stop slouching and slumping
Slouching is a condition that according to medical research causes heartburn, incontinence, poor circulation, back pain, and other medical complications. The reason for that is when you slouch, you add stress to your spine which in turn strains your bones, muscles, and joints.
On the inside, slumping compresses your organs making it difficult for the intestines to work, and your body may not get enough oxygen.
How can physio for posture correction help with slouching?
A physiotherapist may recommend upper back exercises to strengthen your back muscles and front stretches to open your chest. To provide postural support, a physiotherapist may recommend an upper back and shoulder posture brace.
Straighten your back
As mentioned, good posture is about maintaining the three back curves while standing, in motion, driving, or while sitting. Patient-specific exercises will help strengthen and straighten your back naturally.
Fix “text neck”
Text neck or leaning forward for prolonged periods often results in stiff/tight shoulders, decreased range of motion, nerve pain, tingling and numbness in the upper limbs, and eye pain.
Multiple studies cite physiotherapy as the most successful way of treating neck and shoulder pain. That means a personalized neck exercise regime will help improve flexibility, strengthen your muscles, and train your neck muscle memory to stop leaning forward.
Physio for posture correction and spinal dysfunction?
Habit is not the only cause of bad posture, spinal injuries and dysfunction may also contribute to pain and posture problems. Can physio help?
Spinal cord injury or SCI is for some a lifelong affliction that requires a multi-disciplinary approach. If you suffer from it, your doctor will recommend working with a physiotherapist.
What a physiotherapist will do is assess your condition then recommend a suitable exercise regime. The problem with creating an exercise regime on your own or copying from the internet is that you risk further injury or damage to your spine.
If you are experiencing posture related issues please call us to discuss all the available treatment options.