One of the more daunting tasks in muscle imbalance correction and reducing lower back stress lies in postural correction. I think its fairly obvious why its important, but just to re-cap:
Posture closely inter-twines with back pain. Why? Well, your body is equipped naturally to be able to deal with that ever inescapable force called gravity. I heard recently that it weighs down on our bodies at approximately 33.5 pounds per square inch! Whether or not that is exact, who cares, but the point remains that we are meant to deal with this force by the way our bodies are designed.
The forces of gravity should be distributed nicely throughout specific joints, bones, muscles, etc. When posture is distorted, through repetitive tasks, muscle imbalances, and even psychological issues, such as depression, the weight of gravity starts to exert its straining effects on our bodies in a way that causes increased joint stress, overworked stabilizer muscles, thus leading to chronic overuse, joint degeneration, and of course, pain.
Now, that you get WHY back pain sufferers should have good posture, why don’t you DO it?
The reason why most people don’t work on posture is truly because its a pain in the ass. It requires paying attention to it continuously, and its hard work at first. However, just like any other discipline, the rewards will pay off IMMENSELY.
Here are a few ways to get your posture corrected PROPERLY:
1. Identify the type of pelvic tilt you have (read other sections of this blog about this). Once you know, you will always focus on finding a “neutral” pelvic tilt when standing, unless the specific type of back problem you have prevents you from doing this in a pain-free way. You will most likely need to just slightly bend your knees too, in order to make the pelvic tilt happen easily.
2. Imagine you have 2 balloons attached to the upper part of your chest muscles, and they are lifting them up to the sky. That should immediately improve your forward head posture too! Gently RETRACT your chin, so your neck elongates slightly.
3. Lastly, pull your shoulder blades back toward your spine, and DOWN toward the middle of your back. The reason why you do this is because if you JUST pull your shoulders back, then you will most likely engage your upper trapezius muscles, which elevate the shoulders. The problem with this is that 99% of people are tight and overworked in this muscles, and they are “stress” holders. So, we don’t want to make them any tighter. Pull the shoulder blades BACK and DOWN.