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Posture is Not the Cause of Your Pain

I'm sure everyone has a flashback of hearing "stop slouching!" or "your ______ hurts because of the way you sit/stand!". Whether it be your parents, a teacher, or friend who 's posture looked just like yours, almost everyone has been ridiculed about their posture at some point. I'm here to tell you that you're posture is not the cause of the pain you're experiencing.

Nowadays, poor posture is more prevalent than ever. Forward heads, rounded upper back, forward and raised shoulders, the list goes on. The reason so many people look like this is because of our environment. I'm not talking about the climate. I'm talking about the way our lifestyle is designed; smart phones, computers, and chairs. We use these for both work and relaxation, which locks us in this position for hours on end. As I said before, it's not this position that is causing our pain, it's the fact that we rarely move out of this position.

The main function of pain is to let the body know that damage is occurring and that something needs to change. Not moving out of this poor posture causes our brains to become sensitized, which leads to us feeling pain even though there is no real damage occurring. A good analogy to help further understand this is a house alarm being triggered. In this analogy your body is the house and your brain is the alarm system. One night, someone tries to break into your house; the alarm system goes off, alerting everyone that there has been damage to the house and someone should call the police. This is the proper response from the alarm. The next night, the alarm goes off when a squirrel runs across the driveway, triggering the same response to call the police. This is no longer the correct response because the squirrel was not a threat to the house. The alarm system was sensitized from the night before and has started to go off even though there is no damage occurring to the house. This is the same way your body reacts; it starts sending pain signals even though there is no damage or threat present.

The way we treat this is the same way we would treat the house alarm; we reset the system. By resetting the system, the alarm will start to recognize that it only needs to go off when there is real danger. The reset for our brains is movement. Specifically, movements in the opposite direction of the positions we are in all day. Two good examples of these are chin tucks and shoulder retractions.

The big takeaway from this is that we just need to move out of our typical posture intermittently to remain pain-free. In the beginning of the recovery process, when our brain is still very sensitized, our typical posture can be a trigger that that we need to avoid. As long as we work to offset them with the proper amount of resets, we will eventually be able to return to this posture without an issue.

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