We are constantly told ‘stand up straight’, ‘don’t slouch’ and to have a perfect military posture. But there is a growing number of people who believe that, in reality, bad posture may not be the demon it is made out to be.
2.5 million people in the UK suffer from back pain, which has an estimated cost of £22bn a year. One of the first things mentioned when you say that you are suffering from backache is to sit or stand up straight. The belief is that by doing so you can relieve stress and strain from the spine and thus lessen the pain.
But is this really the case?
Posture is defined by the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic as ‘the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing still or lying down.’ There is a perception that ‘good’ posture is standing or sitting up straight and to achieve this your computer, chair and keyboard should all be lined up perfectly.
However, the spine is not straight, and should not be straight. The spine has a natural ‘S’ shape, with an inward curve (lordotic) at the lower back and an outward curve (kyphotic) at the upper back. When people imagine ‘good posture’ they imagine a straightening of these curves. But, unsurprisingly there are as many different postures as there are people. There is no such thing as ‘the perfect posture’.
In fact, industry professionals themselves can’t agree on what constitutes good posture. A recent study which involved 293 physiotherapists from all over Europe showed that they all had different opinions on what good posture looked like. The study involved being shown 9 pictures of different postures. 85% of physios chose one of two postures – one which was more erect and one which had more of a lordotic curve. It was argued that the ‘excessive’ lordotic curve could lead to lower back pain, but the other side argued that being too erect would be tiring and would lead to discomfort.
“This brings us to the question why would anyone choose to correct their posture,” says Dr Eyal Lederman, an osteopath and honorary senior lecturer at University College London’s Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science. “To date, all the research has shown that there is no relationship between any postural factors, including the shape and curves of the back, asymmetries and even the way we use our spine, to that of developing back pain. There is no relationship between sitting and developing back pain. Yes, if you already have back pain, you might feel it more when sitting; but it is not the cause of the back pain.”
Here at Morley Chiropractic Clinic, we take a more holistic approach when treating back pain, or indeed, pain or injuries of any kind. We will look at far more than your posture, and instead look at your movement patterns and lifestyle habits which will in turn help us find the cause of your issues, and then offer treatment accordingly.
To find out more about any of our treatments, contact us on 0113 2383693.