Ending the Painful Cycle of Poor Posture

woman stretching at desk

Feeling the strain?

You’re not alone if you’ve ever caught yourself slouching at your desk or feeling stiff after a long day. Unhealthy postures aren’t just uncomfortable – they can lead to chronic pain and decreased mobility. Our latest blog post, “Ending the Painful Cycle of Poor Posture,” dives deep into how simple changes and professional guidance can make a world of difference. Ready to stand taller and feel better? Read on!

The concern about poor posture goes much deeper than vanity.  Of course, none of us want to walk around hunched over, feeling older than our true age, or shrinking in height as the years go by.  Poor posture can cause physical pain because it is taxing on the muscles and joints.  Over time, this causes deterioration in the spine resulting in headaches, neck, shoulder, and back pain.

Posture and pain end up being a viscous cycle.  Poor posture causes pain which causes worst posture and subsequently worse pain. But what if you could break free from this cycle? Together, we can end the painful cycle of poor posture.

Poor posture can be caused by a multitude of factors including:
  • increased stress
  • history of injury
  • increased body fat or low muscle mass
  • unsupportive or improper footwear
  • poor core function or coordination
  • muscle weakness or tightness
  • compensation for pain

An unhealthy posture caused by any of these factors affects more than just your look of poise and confidence. A health body position and alignment ensures the entire body functions properly. This not only includes your muscles, bones, and joints, but also your internal orangs – it is all connected after all.

Additional effects posture has on the body include:

  • balance and equilibrium
  • digestion and absorption of nutrients
  • breathing and the respiratory system
  • energy and self image
What actually is a healthy posture?

In sitting:

  • head straight
  • knees lower than hips
  • shoulders back and relaxed
  • feet flat on the floor

In standing:

  • shoulders back with chest perpendicular to the floor
  • chin parallel to the ground
  • keep a slight bend in your knees
  • keep feet about shoulder width apart

When either sitting or standing, be aware of and avoid unbalanced postures such as crossing legs while sitting, leaning to one side, hunching the shoulders forward, or tilting the head. In fact, the best way to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture is to change positions frequently.

Now that you’ve learned about the impact of poor posture and what healthy posture look like, what’s next? Taking action. Schedule an evaluation with a doctor of physical therapy to get personalized insights and solutions tailored to your body’s needs. Let’s work together to create a plan that not only relieves your pain but also strengthens your future. Make your health & future happiness a priority—book your assessment HERE today!

Inquire about cost and appointment availability from our website or call 901-316-5456 for our Collierville Clinic or 901-665-0550 for our Memphis clinic.

 

14 Ways to Be Kind to Your Body this Valentines Day

Woman Hugging Heart Balloon

When you think about your body, do you spend more time focusing on the negative or the positive?

It is easy to complain about the inches we would like to lose, or limitations that came with an injury, or how our body moves slower than it did a few years ago.

Or maybe you are focused on other areas of your life and don’t even notice your physical condition until you get the flu or throw your back out.

With so many responsibilities at home and work, it’s easy to overlook our body’s most basic needs. Despite the distractions, let’s not forget to be grateful for the amazing things our body does for us each day.

Valentines Day seems like the perfect time to show your body some love.

It’s important to take care of your body if you want to be able to rely on it – to be sure its keeps showing up for your for decades to come.

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How Managing Stress Can Ease Aches and Pains

Woman Rubbing Forehead

 

Most of us are so used to living in a state of stress, we often don’t realize the negative effects it is having on our body. In fact, small infrequent doses of stress are not bad.  It can help you accomplish tasks and avoid getting hurt.

Stress is the body’s reaction to a real or perceived harmful situation called “fight or flight”.  If you were a caveman, running from a bear, stress hormones would allow you to run faster and harder. When a stress hits, your body’s critical systems for survival rev up and less urgent needs are set aside.

Immediate physical symptoms of stress can include a headache, muscle tension, rapid heart rate, insomnia, dry mouth, clenched jaw, and nervousness. While stressed, your nervous system keeps the body on alert.

But, what happens when traffic jams, work deadlines, no WiFi, or a long line at the coffee shop gets our blood boiling on a daily basis? 

The Effects of Chronic Stress

With chronic stress, your body remains in a prolonged state of muscle tension and produces high levels of stress hormones.  This type of stress can cause or worsen many health problems including mental illness like depression or anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure, digestive problems, and skin conditions like acne or eczema.

You might think of stress being a problem only for your mind or psychology. However, your brain and body work together and cannot be separated.

Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system and signals the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline and cortisol that slows digestion (because this isn’t really the top priority if you are running from a bear) but also increases inflammation in your body.  The hormones constrict blood vessels and reduce blood flow to soft tissues including muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves.

As you would imagine, this results in muscle spasm, slowed healing, and frequently pain symptoms. Please remember though that stress and emotional factors that lead to pain result in real physical symptoms and are not imagined or made up.

Stress and Pain are Linked

The bodies experience of stress and pain each have an impact on the other creating a vicious cycle. Pain is regulated by the nervous system so the brain is a key player in how we perceive pain.  To maintain balance in our body and help us function, the brain works hard to try to minimize pain signals.  When you are stressed, your brain is unable to filter the pain (or inhibit) signals so pain intensity will increase.

Whether your pain or stress came first doesn’t really matter, both negatively affect your quality of life.

A change as small as lack or disruption of sleep caused by pain and/or stress limits your body’s ability to heal and recover. For many people, learning how to avoid or cope with stress can lead to significant pain relief.

Where to Start?

Sometimes stress relief can be as easy as taking three long deep breaths.  To be most effective breathe in through your nose and let the air fill your belly.  Hold for a few seconds and then slowly blow out through your mouth.  In the moment, this can decrease the production of stress hormones and start to relax your muscles. 

Other times stress builds up to a point that we need help teaching the body to let go and relax again.  As physical therapists, we are experts at retraining the nervous and muscular systems.  Using hands on techniques we can help your muscles relax, release the knots and tension, and relieve the pain that is keeping you from the sleep you need and activities you love.  Click the link below learn more about us and request to speak with a doctor of physical therapy today for free. 

In the meantime, head over to Facebook where we invite you to our private group Peak Wellness Tribe.  You will find tips, tricks, conversation, and Live chats on these and other health topics.  You are welcome to post any questions you have on that page as well.