Okay, this isn’t another Star Wars fan post but one about posture instead. So often I hear clients blame their pain on their posture. Usually because a therapist told them just that or because of the ingrained cultural misunderstanding of posture (caused, I’m afraid to say, by us well meaning bodyworkers. Sorry!).
Does poor posture equal pain?
Both scientific research and anecdotal evidence would suggest not. People can have very distorted posture yet no pain, whilst the perfectly formed yoga guru at your local studio could suffer daily. So posture can’t cause pain.
But my friend improved their posture and is now pain free.
Firstly, let’s clear up the idea of “Pain Free”. Nobody over the age of 30 is pain free. Pain has a natural ebb and flow throughout one’s life. Pain today, gone tomorrow, back another day. There are so many reasons to experience a little pain or discomfort that the pursuit of “Pain Free” is a futile one. That’s why throughout my work and my website I say “Pain Management” not “Treatment”. The word treatment invites the idea that pain can be fixed. I prefer to suggest that pain can be changed, which it certainly can (okay, soap box moment over!).
Back to your friend. To understand why your friend’s pain changed through postural work, we must understand that there are four broad reasons for pain – Tissue Damage, Nerve Entrapment, Learnt Pain and Ischemia (chronic tissue compression).
Each broad pain type has a different method of resolution. Posture really has the most benefit in the last type – Ischemia. Ischemia occurs when tissues are chronically compressed. Blood flow reduces to the cells and therefore oxygen is limited. Because of this lack of oxygen, we build up acidity in the tissues. It is this acidity that irritates chemical nerve endings and triggers a signal to the brain. The brain then lets you know there is a lack of oxygen by causing you pain which makes you move or massage the area to stimulate blood flow again.
If we take a person with Ischemic style pain and improve their posture, there is a good chance we will change their pain. If they don’t have ischemic driven pain but have, let’s say, tissue damage instead, then posture work probably won’t help them.
Head up, chest out, shoulders back, here comes the conclusion
Yoda may or may not have had any pain. I imagine he could have at least used The Force to eliminate it anyway but that’s an article for another website. I say may or may not have had pain because it depends on how well adapted he was to his posture. If blood still flows well despite the posture then his posture isn’t really an issue. But if it doesn’t then maybe, just maybe, a little postural work or a damn good massage would be helpful.
If you’re starting to turn green with pain or discomfort and you’re beginning to feel 2’2” tall, then let’s talk. We can decide what type of pain driver you have and build a plan to change your pain.