An Alignment Based Approach to Reducing Pain.
Most of you have been told at one time in your life to, “Stand up straight” have you not? Or perhaps you have had the thought that your posture is not so good, and you had an intention to correct it, yet didn’t quite follow through. Perhaps your back or neck pain begs you to sit and stand correctly. And did you know that feet, knee, and hip pain; as well as rotator cuff injuries, shoulder – elbow – wrist tendonitis, and many other musculoskeletal problems have their origin and their remedies in understanding proper alignment and posture?
Yes, Posture can be a remedy!
Actually, we like to refer to it as Postural Therapy and it does lead to pain relief and healthier bodies. However, it is not simply a matter of sticking your chest out tall every now and then. Rather it is learning about the body’s ideal position and then how to use your muscles in a balanced way to achieve and sustain that posture.
The Not Too Technical Reasons…
The health and integrity of your tissues, joints, and spine depend upon the balanced forces placed upon them. Think of it this way: if the tire axle on your vehicle is off, then after a while everything in the system is worn down prematurely. The bearings, the ball joints, the tire tread are all in tension, worn down and worn out. It is no longer a smooth ride.
This is exactly the same scenario with the body. We can call the spine (the core) or the axle for the whole system. For the body to move easefully and smoothly, the axle or spine/pelvis must be in proper alignment. However, if there is muscle tightness or weakness anywhere in the body then this will ultimately change the position of the spine; and then the whole body works under tension to compensate. At first, it may seem like no big deal. But with time, the damage adds up. If there is weakness say on the front part of the joint compared to the backside causing the forces of motion on the “ball joints” to be off, then wear and tear occurs. This could be cartilage wear and tear, disc deterioration, joint capsule injury inflammation, osteoarthritis formation (bone spurs), or ligament/tendon inflammation (sprains or tendonitis). The list of consequent injury possibilities is countless.
Studies indicate more than 70 percent of adults suffer back pain at some time in their lives? One report quoted 8 out of every 10 people have some form of back pain. A 2004 Duke Medical study showed that back pain patients consume more than $90 billion annually in healthcare expenses, with approximately 26 billion of that amount directly attributable to treating the back pain.
One has to wonder, with such a high prevalence of debilitating back pain and so much money going out, why it is that our medical doctors, school systems, workplaces, and health care are not educating more on the prevention of this epidemic, and teaching proper management of our bodies so we can avoid such pain?
For sure chronic poor posture and alignment is one of the leading causes of back pain. And weakness, tightness, and muscular imbalances, as well as poor standing and sitting habits, cause much of the poor posture.
The good news is we can prevent and heal these injuries and disease breakdowns with understanding and some attention now. The healthy long-lasting vitality of our tissues and bones depends upon the structure’s proper alignment (biomechanical integrity). There are some quick and easy answers to being incorrect alignment with good posture, and you and your kids should know them.
Essential components include a strong core (abdominal, trunk, pelvic, and hip strength) and flexibility that allows for the S curve alignment of the spine. Ideally speaking both shoulders should be level and over level hips, knees and ankles. These eight load-bearing joints should be stacked one over the other creating parallel & vertical horizontal lines.
How do you do it? Turning on the “right” muscles and turning off the “wrong” muscles with some easy-cases. A qualified physical therapist specialized in alignment can help you with this. Remember, a little effort can go a long way with getting you and keeping you pain-free.
Copyright © by Kimberly DelVecchio, PT
Kimberly DelVecchio, Licensed Physical Therapist, is the owner of Integrative Physical Therapy in Clifton Park NY. IPT specializes in alignment and manual therapy. www.InspiredTherapy.com