Posture, Pain and Joint Degeneration

Poor posture is not a laughing matter, unless you can laugh in the face of chronic pain.  Slumped and rounded shoulders lead to chronic headache, neck tension and upper back ache.  The usual compliment to slumped shoulders is a head that drops forward and downward.  Almost all Americans stand, sit and move with this combination of deadly postural habits.  These habits are deadly because, over time, they cause degeneration of cervical discs along with inclination for rotator cuff and shoulder injuries.

Postural slump has been linked to poor mental performance, fatigue, and even depression.  Circulation of blood, lymph and other body fluids improves when posture is more erect and normal.  Osteoarthritis advances more quickly when more compressive force affects the joints.  Good posture literally decompresses joints and thus slows down wear and tear within the joint capsule.  Erect posture also helps maintain good alignment of spinal vertebra (less visits to the chiropractor), and protects spinal discs.  This daily protection decreases likelihood of ever needing surgery to correct degenerative spinal column problems.

Most people know that poor posture means poor body mechanics.  Some muscles become short and tight as other muscles become weak and overstretched.  Connective tissues become compacted, gelled, dense and lose flexibility.  When these negative changes occur, a condition called adaptive muscle shortening exists.  The body is permanently out of balance until manual therapy and good postural habits correct negative conditions.  When the body is out of balance, you are more stuck than you may realize.

Why are you stuck?  Adaptive muscle shortening interferes with your conscious efforts to improve posture.  Your body no longer naturally falls into good alignment.  As you attempt to force good alignment, you likely create additional problems.  Here’s an example.  You pull your shoulders back when short chest muscles and thickened fascia are causing your shoulders to hold in a protracted and medially-rotated position.  The result of your effort to improve posture will not be correct posture, but an additional abnormal  stress upon the skeleton and soft tissues.  So how do you improve posture?

If you fit any of the following qualifications you actually need a medical massage therapist to help you achieve good posture and structural integration:

  • older adult
  • overweight
  • past injuries
  • past surgeries
  • weak core muscles
  • participate in sports with one-sided swings like tennis and golf
  • history of stress
  • repetitive motion in work or sports
  • inflammation of joints, muscles or connective tissues

First, the medical massage therapist will apply manual therapy techniques to:

  • eliminate the adaptive muscle shortening.
  • shortened muscles will be restored to normal length
  • hypertonic muscles will be restored to normal tonicity
  • thickened, gelled and compacted connective tissue will be restored to a more natural fluid state
  • there will be less compressive force on joints and on body structures like nerves and blood-carrying vessels
  • trigger points will be eliminated
  • adhesions will be eliminated

Second, and just as important, the  medical massage therapist will then suggest that you do theses things.  You will be guided in your mastery of these four practices by a physical therapist, athletic trainer or properly qualified medical massage therapist:

  • frequent practice of corrective exercises to strengthen core muscles and weak muscles
  • several stretching session per week for all major body parts
  • improve ergonomics at work and at home
  • use awareness to maintain healthy posture

You will be surprised at the many improvements in health that you will realize once you improve posture and biomechanics.  It’s time to decompress and make space for your organs and other body parts.

Call Dr. Sloss today at 303.986.0492 and find out how you can make these changes in your body mechanics.

Joan Sloss, EdD, LMT

Orthopedic & Medical Massage Therpaist

Healing Unleashed, LLC

Lakewood, CO 80235


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One Comment on Posture, Pain and Joint Degeneration

  1. – You may need or benefit from the help of a physical therapist to restore your spine’s normal curvature. However, most poor posture can be greatly improved by replacing bad standing and sitting habits with good ones. Put a note on your computer screen, mirror or steering wheel, or use other cues to remind you to practice good posture. As your body spends more time in proper alignment, your muscles will likely adjust to make proper posture feel more natural.

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