How Important Is Your Posture?
We sit for prolonged periods. That’s part of our life. Whether it’s at work, at home, or driving–sitting is commonplace. We also use phones, tablets and other forms of technology…a lot. This means we maintain certain postures for prolonged periods of time. Unfortunately, we begin to make various correlations and even worse use good science to make bad assumptions. Posture, or more precisely prolonged positions, can have negative effects. However, not as often nor as seriously as most think. Let’s break down 3 popular posture myth’s we address here at Recharge|HoCo CrossFit almost daily.
Myth #1: “Your posture is why you have pain”
Pain is a difficult experience to explain for both the people experiencing the pain and the individuals helping them understand it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of blaming pain on one reason. Unfortunately, posture has often been one of those reasons. Posture has been vilified. In reality, the pain one experiences could be from simply a lack of moving or a certain position being more sensitive and more threatening to the body than others.
However, since posture continues to be made out as the bad guy by healthcare professionals, people begin internalizing this as true. It is not uncommon for us to hear “I have bad posture.” All of sudden, believing that we have bad posture becomes a part of who we are and we use it to explain what is happening.
Here at Recharge we reframe it as: which position does my body view as a threat? It may appear as simple semantics but this shift in mindset plays a large role in our ability to feel a sense of control over improving our pain.
Finally, perfect or ideal posture is an evolving definition. We have found that over the decades of the 1900’s that we have viewed what we would be considered ideal posture has changed based on the generations who judge it as so. Surely, if our ideal posture has changed over the last years by definition then there is little reason to believe that it is the sole cause of pain.
Myth #2: “Asymmetries are bad/give you pain”
It is also not uncommon for us to hear that one side of a person is their bad side, or is different than the other side, which causes them their pain. We acknowledge that we have the ability to feel when one side may feel “off” compared to the other side, this is not uncommon as it allows us to move around and find out what might be causing this sensation. Yet asymmetries, like posture, are rarely the sole cause of injury or pain. Many people who feel perfectly fine may have large asymmetries with no worries in the world.
Even at the highest level of performance individuals have significant asymmetries. The fastest man alive, Usain Bolt, has scoliosis which causes some asymmetries for his body yet he still runs 100 meters in under 10 seconds quite easily.
The only time that we here at Recharge look for asymmetries as a sign of something that needs to be further investigated is when they come on suddenly with injury or pain that is acute. If this happens, combined with you feeling a bit off, then we may have something that can be worked out to help you back to moving consistently again.
Myth #3: “Alignment is the same thing as posture”
The last part of this conversation dives into even more semantics but for good reason. Your body is able to move in any which way it desires without any significant consequences. That is the beauty of the body as a resilient structure. When it comes to alignment in regards to strength training or other types of performance however, the conversations become about efficiency.
For example, you can climb a flight of stairs by walking “normally” or climb them by doing a jumping jack up each one. Walking is clearly more efficient as it expends less energy. Alignment, especially when moving weights, allows us to be efficient in order to do more work (and just happens to usually be more aesthetically pleasing and graceful).
This is why we often love watching dancers and other athletes move, it is inherently beautiful to watch. This type of alignment and movement however is a vastly different conversation than when involving pain and injury. They both have their place but for different reasons and both concepts of alignment and posture are on a spectrum. There is no one size fits all.