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POSTURE AND ATHLETIC TRAINING

HOW IS POSTURE DEFINED AND SHOULD POOR POSTURE BE TREATED

There is a tremendous amount of misinformation about what defines posture and what constitutes good posture. Many health and fitness professionals such as physical therapists, chiropractors, personal trainers, Pilates and yoga instructors spend a large amount of time and effort, examining, treating and billing for what is felt to be negative health issues related to poor posture. Despite the tremendous effort to identify and treat what is felt to be poor posture and pain related to this issue, there is very little scientific evidence, that there is any relationship between poor posture causing pathologic conditions of the spine.

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It is also not clear that treatment of 'poor posture' is effective or necessary. That said, as trainers using a very powerful training device such as the Megaformer M3S, one should be aware of creating training conditions, which can make certain pre-existing conditions worse.

WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF 'POSTURE'?

Webster's Dictionary defines posture; as the position of the limbs or the carriage of the body as a whole. What most people think is good posture refers to the anatomic ideal of a neutral spine.

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This includes the three natural curves of the spine; cervical, thoracic and lumbar. This ideal 'spinal shape' is relative to each individual and is the result of genetics, habitual and environmental forces. The posture an individual has is the body's response to external forces including gravity, positional challenges from working, athletics and pathologic anatomy.

The surgical tech, working with the same surgeon every day, who is slightly bent to the left and has muscular pain due to handing off instruments, is a good example of posture altered by working conditions. Alternatively, workers who spend hours each day slumped over a computer and have an exaggerated thoracic curve are thought to have postural abnormalities due to environmental stress. Another example of altered posture, is the patient with spinal stenosis who has pain while standing straight and is hunched over because it alleviates the pain.

The human body will adapt to stresses placed on it to maintain comfort until structural abnormalities develop which then compromise function. Also patients with pain, often decrease their activity due to the pain causing deconditioning and increased pain due to the weakness of supporting musculature.

WHAT IS 'POOR POSTURE'?

Put simply, poor posture is any way the body is held creating awkward posture. Poor posture can result from habitual positioning that causes unnecessary strain on the body. When the body is forced to hold itself in a way that causes pain and discomfort, that can be thought of as poor posture. This is in contrast to 'Lazy Posture,' where by avoiding postural challenge overtime, leads to deconditioning. The deconditioned body then slumps over looking less than ideal. Weakness over time can lead to pain, causing a cycle of worsening posture, pain and further weakness. From the athletic perspective of Lagree Fitness trainers, over-training in one plane can lead to imbalances, which will then affect the body's posture.

 

The bigger question is do natural differences in the perceived neutral spinal alignment really matter, and can and should they be fixed?

 

CAN OR SHOULD POSTURE BE IMPROVED'

There are entire industries that work towards the goal of fixing posture as a remedy for pain. The theory being that poor posture creates a condition that creates spinal misalignment, which then leads to pain. Chiropractors and others therapists spend countless hours giving treatments in hopes of aligning the spine as a cure for bad posture.

While some of these therapies may provide relief for syndromes of acute pain, their efficacy in chronic pain is less clear. While these therapies are popular, movement of the body, in a moderate not excessive amount, is more likely to be helpful than spinal adjustments or targeted realignment.

POSTURE AND 'BACK PAIN'

Do challenges of posture directly cause pain? Moreover, does bad posture lead to pain? Chronic or acutely positioning of the body in an awkward way, can place the body in positions causing musculoskeletal strain, and lead to pain. Chronic changes like the typical hunch. shoulders and kyphotic lumbar spine that many older individuals have alone are not likely to be the etiology of most back pain Hence, fixing these are unlikely to result in relief.

There are medical conditions in which spinal abnormalities are directly associated with painful syndromes. Patients with congenital malformations of the spine, trauma, arthritis, cancer, spinal stenosis and degeneration of the intervertebral discs have structural abnormalities, which can be exquisitely painful. (figure 2). Clients with back pain, especially in the lumbar region may benefit from medical evaluation, especially radiographs or MRI. Contact Lagree Fitness to discover more. Evaluation of the spine in multiple planes, and looking at the angle of the pelvis or pelvic incidence, may be helpful in diagnosing acute or chronic conditions that require steroid injections or surgery. Patients with scoliosis, nerve root impingement, or spinal stenosis should not be encouraged to work through the pain, and should seek medical care. Patients with serious structural changes in the spine should have medical clearance before starting training with the Megaformer.

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