Posture is a fraught topic where many health professionals still differ in opinion. Improving posture is often a part of treatment. It is also often identified as a reason for the development of complaints or injuries. Entire methods and treatment plans have been developed to improve this "wrong" posture. But is this true? A lot of research has been released in recent years examining the role of posture in the development of complaints.
We're going to go over the most important ones with you:
1. There is no such thing as the perfect posture!
There is no evidence that one posture is better than another posture when it comes to preventing symptoms. The best posture is the following posture. Adjusting your natural way of sitting is likely to cause more complaints. It is especially important to alternate a lot of different postures whenever possible. So it's not about a particular posture not being good for you. The lack of movement can cause symptoms, though. Just hold a ballpoint pen above your head for 8 hours. In itself, nothing wrong with this posture but it will cause a tired and annoying feeling in the shoulder girdle. Now compare this one to your back or neck during a long day of work at the office. Nothing wrong with a certain sitting position but sitting for 8 hours at a time becomes a problem.
2. A hollow or rounded back is not the reason for your symptoms.
There is research where people are followed a long time over time. This shows that people with a slightly different position of the spine, a concave or convex position of the back, do not develop more or fewer symptoms than a control group. A hollow or convex position of your back is never directly the reason for your pain symptoms.
3. Attitude and self-confidence.
An active, proud attitude is a booster for your self-confidence. A study conducted in America examined the role of attitude during simple arithmetic. Students who were anxious showed a hunched posture. And had less confidence in a good outcome of this test. This hunched forward posture caused students to think less effectively. When they were asked to sit up straight they were more confident and scored better on the test. Posture not only affects how others think about us but also how you think about yourself! Self-confidence arises not only from the thoughts about yourself but also occurs from the attitude you adopt.
4. The best posture is a fine posture.
A comfortable posture is very person-dependent. So don't try to teach yourself anything that doesn't feel natural. See what works for you. Explore different postures see what works for you!
5. Your back is not a fragile block box.
Your spine is extremely strong and can be safely loaded at various angles and positions. Warnings to lift with a certain posture, for example, are unnecessary and can cause unnecessary anxiety.
6. Sitting is not the new smoking.
Smoking and sitting are not even remotely similar. Clearly, lack of exercise does not bring benefits. But sitting has been unnecessarily demonized. Smoking is unhealthy, sitting is not!
It's easier to sit a lot these days. We pack the car a lot, have office functions and we easily plop down on the couch in the evening, too. There is no advice on maximum sitting time. However, sufficient exercise can easily compensate for prolonged sitting. So look for a good balance. 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise is sufficient. More is always allowed but this is a good guideline to start with. This includes walking and cycling.
7. An attitude analysis makes no sense.
Adjustments to your desk, for example, are unnecessary and do not prevent complaints. The advice to sit or lift in a certain way at work has no added value. The way you prefer to lift something or to sit is determined by the natural curvature of your own spine. So this is different for each person. Don't fall for this!
In conclusion, your back is strong, adaptable and is not a block box that needs to be neatly aligned. When trying to explain pain symptoms we need to look much less at the influence of posture, we need to start focusing more on factors such as exercise, training, stress management and sleep. Health professionals also need to become more aware of the language they use when treating or counseling their clients. Your back is not crooked, is not vulnerable and in 99% of all cases is fine the way it is now.