Posture is a fraught topic where many health professionals still differ in opinion. Improving posture is often part of the treatment. It is also often pointed out as a reason for the occurrence of complaints or injuries. Entire methods and treatment plans have been developed to improve this "wrong" posture. But is this really the case? In recent years, a great deal of research has been published on the role of posture in the development of complaints.
We're going to go over the most important ones with you:
1. The perfect posture does not exist!
There is no evidence that one posture is better than another when it comes to preventing symptoms. The best posture is the next posture. Adjusting your natural way of sitting is likely to cause more complaints. It is especially important that you alternate a lot between different postures whenever possible. It is not about a particular posture that is not good for you. The lack of movement, however, can cause complaints. Just hold a ballpoint pen above your head for 8 hours. In itself nothing wrong with this position but it will cause a tired and unpleasant feeling in the shoulder girdle. Compare this with your back or neck during a long day at the office. Nothing wrong with a certain sitting position but sitting for 8 hours at a stretch becomes a problem.
2. A hollow or convex back is not the reason for your symptoms.
There is research where people are followed for a long time. This shows that people with a slightly different position of the spine, a concave or convex position of the back, develop no more or less complaints than a control group. A hollow or curved position of your back is never directly the reason for your pain.
3. Attitude and self-confidence.
An active, proud attitude is a booster for your self-confidence. A study conducted in America investigated the role of posture during simple arithmetic. Students who were anxious showed a hunched posture. And had less confidence in a good outcome of this test. This hunched 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 of us but also how you think of yourself! Self-confidence doesn't just come from thoughts about yourself but also comes from the attitude you have.
4. The best posture is a fine posture.
A comfortable posture is very dependent on the individual. So try not 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.
Your spine is extremely strong and can be safely loaded in different angles and positions. Warnings to lift with a certain posture, for example, are not necessary and can cause unnecessary anxiety.
6. Sitting is not the new smoking.
Smoking and sitting are not even remotely similar. Clearly, a lack of exercise brings no benefits. But sitting is unnecessarily demonized. Smoking is unhealthy, sitting is not!
It's easier to sit down a lot these days. We take the car a lot, we have office functions and we easily plop down on the couch in the evening. There is no advice on maximum sitting time. However, sufficient exercise can easily compensate for prolonged sitting. So find 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. Walking and cycling are also included.
7. A posture analysis doesn't make 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 every person. Do not fall for this!
In conclusion, your back is strong, can adapt well 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. Also, health professionals need to become more aware of the language they use when treating or counseling their clients. Your back is not crooked, is not fragile and in 99% of all cases is fine as it is.