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Designing a simpler life / Education focus: Posture

Updated: Jan 23, 2022

Designing a simpler life

October has been refreshing in many ways. The sun does a lot to lighten our moods 😊 The work - life juggle is so real and we are feeling the daily grind creeping back with school/tests/work and the last stretch to the end of the year. A lot of people ask me what is so appealing to the end of the year, that nothing is changing regarding Covid-19, my answer is simple…a mental reset. This year has been an electric shock treatment to our sensors. I am fully aware we can’t solve the world’s problems, but I can look forward to turning it off for just a little bit and then restarting 2021, I know I’m not alone.

Last time I wrote about the need to take care of yourselves, have your check-ups and don’t procrastinate on your health. I would like to continue that theme and take the opportunity to remind you that we need to prioritise ourselves and our wellbeing. I know how easy it is to get sucked into a vortex of to-do’s, especially this time of year. It is so easy to become overwhelmed by the need to please and do everything. Take this opportunity to reboot and approach the end of the year a little differently. Learn to say no, and not over commit to things that don’t energise or lift your spirit - so you end up running on empty. By doing this simple act, to take better care of yourself first, you will be the best you.

For those that know me well, know that I am a bit of a minimalist. I am not the kind of minimalist who has a empty house (although I do take great pleasure in getting rid of stuff), for me minimalism is about focusing on what is important in my life and letting go of what is not, this applies but not limited to relationships, things, and sometimes even spills over in my work. We do not serve those we care about, or ourselves for that matter, by investing to much time and energy into things that drain us for no greater purpose.

One of my favourite blogs - No Sidebar – uses the line “design a simple life”. In today’s world we are bombarded with adverts and information and it can become difficult to drown out the noise, by designing a simpler and more focused life you will see more clearly what matters.

“Remember the universal law of happiness and success: What you pay attention to grows. Focus on what matters and let go of what does not” – marcandangel

Education Focus: Posture

“The position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing still or lying down”

This topic is a frequent visitor in my practice. During lockdown and changes in school and work routines meant that many worked from their dining room table. This change in work posture has lead many to question if it may be the cause of their increased neck or back pain.

The topic of the “ideal posture” has been debated over the years and even among Physiotherapists there is no outright consensus in what ideal posture is. Our parents certainly drummed in the “sit up straight” version but there is really no evidence to support this notion. What is not in dispute is that if you have a neck or back problem, that your posture will likely affect it.

There are two types of posture, static and dynamic posture. Static posture is the way you hold yourself when you not moving and dynamic posture is the way you hold yourself when do move. The goal is to do so with control and minimal effort. Trying to force yourself into a traditionally “good” posture may actually cause stress and pain. We each have different body types that have adapted to the needs we have placed upon it, for instance - a ballet dancers ideal body form and posture in her sport will not apply to the ideal posture and body form of a rugby player, to give one example.

As a therapist, we would assess if your posture is aggravating an injury or pain and what can be done to strengthen the weakness or mobilise the stiffness.

One article I read sums it up so succinctly, “Sit Up Straight”: Time to Re-evaluate by D. Slater, V. Korakakis, P. O’Sullivan, D. Nolan, K. O’Sullivan (J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2019;49(8):562-564. doi:10.2519/jospt.2019.0610)

There is no single “correct” posture. Despite common posture beliefs, there is no strong evidence that one optimal posture exists or that avoiding “incorrect” postures will prevent back pain.

Differences in postures are a fact of life. There are natural variations in spinal curvatures, and there is no single spinal curvature strongly associated with pain. Pain should not be attributed to relatively “normal” variations.

Posture reflects beliefs and mood. Posture can offer insights into a person’s emotions, thoughts, and body image. Some postures are adopted as a protective strategy and may reflect concerns regarding body vulnerability. Understanding reasons behind preferred postures can be useful.

It is safe to adopt more comfortable postures. Comfortable postures vary between individuals. Exploring different postures, including those frequently avoided, and changing habitual postures may provide symptom relief.

The spine is robust and can be trusted. The spine is a robust, adaptable structure capable of safely moving and loading in a variety of postures. Common warnings to protect the spine are not necessary and can lead to fear.

Sitting is not dangerous. Sitting down for more than 30 minutes in one position is not dangerous, nor should it always be avoided. However, moving and changing position can be helpful, and being physically active is important for your health.

One size does not fit all. Postural and movement screening does not prevent pain in the workplace. Preferred lifting styles are influenced by the naturally varying spinal curvatures, and advice to adopt a specific posture or to brace the core is not evidence based.

Man Ther. 2012 Oct;17(5):432-7. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2012.04.007. Epub 2012 May 17. “What do physiotherapists consider to be the best sitting spinal posture?” Kieran O'Sullivan 1, Peter O'Sullivan, Leonard O'Sullivan, Wim Dankaerts

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2019;49(8):562-564. doi:10.2519/jospt.2019.0610 “Sit Up Straight”: Time to Re-evaluate by D. Slater, V. Korakakis, P. O’Sullivan, D. Nolan, K. O’Sullivan

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