We’re often told to ‘sit up’, ‘stand straight’ or ‘stop slouching’ to maintain good posture and not put strain on our backs.
So, lots of people choose to invest in an ergonomically designed chair and/or a standing desk.
Perform core exercises to correct posture in yoga, Pilates or with a physio or personal trainer.
All of this can help, BUT rarely does it have long lasting success.
Eventually when you ‘forget’ about standing tall and throwing your shoulders back – you catch yourself in the mirror or when passing a shop window – you’ve returned to that ‘default slouch setting’.
It is impossible to ‘think’ yourself to good posture and it’s also impossible to improve your posture purely with ergonomically designed chairs and desks.
So, here are some basics about posture and why it’s ESSENTIAL to long-term full rehabilitation from back pain.
(Disclaimer: I am going to get a little technical)
There are three types of muscle fibres in your body. In basic terms these are:
- Type 1 (Slow twitch – postural muscle fibres)
- Type 2 (fast twitch – movement muscle fibres)
- Type 2B (Fast/Explosive muscle fibres)
And it’s the Type 1 (postural muscles) that control your body’s correct alignment and whole-body symmetry (posture).
However, those Type 1 muscle fibres are typically prone to becoming long and weak.
Over time, bad posture at a desk or whilst driving – or simply from slouching on your sofa – can have a negative effect on these crucial muscles along with the health of your internal organs and overall health.
Already exercising and so don’t need to worry? Think again. It’s very hard to retune and strengthen these key muscle fibres.
Your postural muscle fibres require specific exercises to strengthen them. Most people reading this will be aware of some favourites that physios, Pilates instructors and personal trainers use, which include:
- The plank
- The cobra
- The Horse stance
BUT any exercise that is performed with postural correction in mind must have a static hold for not less than 3 minutes per set!
That means in order to establish a strengthening of postural muscles, the static hold of a cobra, for example, must be for not less than 3 minutes per set. With very little rest in between repetitions.
This is the ONLY way you will achieve a strengthening of these vital muscles.
Ergonomically designed chairs are ONLY there to help your posture up to an extent. THEY WILL NEVER CURE IT!
That’s NOT to say a good chair or desk is not a good investment. They are, but they will simply slow down the inevitable back pain from worsening due in part from poor posture.
If you look back at the three different muscle types, these correspond to the three-phase process that we adopt at The Back Pain Clinic as part of our back pain rehabilitation service:
Phase 1 is where we perform all the extensive whole-body assessments and lifestyle assessments, and genetic food typing. It’s in this phase when our patients reach:
- Complete body re-alignment
- A reduction of all inflammation in the muscles/ joints and organs
- Correction in lifestyle and nutritional habits
- Reduction in lifestyle related issues
- Stability in the spinal column and pelvis
After we have eliminated or reduced the pain significantly, we DON’T stop there.
Phase 2 is where we rebuild muscle and bone tissue. We retrain the nervous system and the movement patterns of the patient’s body so that they can experience real freedom from chronic back pain.
In this phase we look to build a body for life. Most patients report that they have never felt as healthy for years, if ever!
Typically, patients establish:
- Natural body composition
- A supple and pain-free body
- Clearer skin
- Better sleep patterns
- Increased energy and vitality
- Mood improvements
- A reduction or elimination of pain medication
- Fast recovery times
- Immune system improvements
Phase 3 is specific for a patient who wants to re-establish or try something new and FUN like skiing.
We condition the patient so that they can enjoy hobbies or maybe just so they can perform their chosen sport without the incidence of pain. Most golfers see marked improvements with their game in this phase.
During this phase patients will notice:
- An improvement in sporting performance
- More dynamic strength and energy
- A normalising of the hormonal system, especially for patients over the age of 45
In my 15 plus years of owning physiotherapy, osteopathic and chiropractic clinics, I have NEVER seen a full rehab system like the above.
This blog delves into a little more of the science of conditioning back pain. But I’ve always believed that education, along with a structured coaching/treatment protocol, is the ONLY way for anyone to fully heal from chronic back pain.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog.
Please share it if you know someone who may benefit from it.