Do you sit at a desk working on a computer all day? Are you standing on a steel deck working at the ship yard? Are you juggling life with kids while carrying one on your hip? These are all very different activities, but they all have one thing in common… the risk of poor posture!
When you repeat postural habits daily, your muscles remember and will naturally adapt to that position. Unfortunately, the body doesn’t always tell you immediately if that position is good or not. We can go years sitting or standing the same way before the body finally gives us the signal that it doesn’t like the position anymore… and that signal is usually in the form of pain.
Why is there pain? The two positions that muscles usually adapt to are shortened or stretched. When a muscle is resting in a shortened position, the muscle fibers adapt and maintain that shortened, or contracted, position. In contrast, when a muscle is resting in a stretched position, it is also in a lengthened position. When a muscle is chronically lengthened, it weakens over time.
Let’s use sitting as the first example: When seated, our hips are flexed and, therefore, the hip flexors are shortened and tight. Conversely, the low back muscles are stretched constantly. Overtime, this frequently results in low back pain even when out of that position. The hip flexors want to be shortened, pulling on the low back, and the low back muscles are weak from being stretched and can’t find balance with the hip flexors. The pain comes from the muscle imbalance between front and back as well as other structures affected like nerves, joints, and blood vessels.
When standing, we often see this imbalance in the chest and upper back. If the shoulders are rounding forward, a common posture offender, we develop shortened pectoral muscles in the front and stretched muscles between the shoulder blades in the back.
When carrying a child on the same hip daily, the muscles from right to left become imbalanced. For example: if holding a child on the left, the latissimus and QLs become shortened on the left and lengthened on the right. This frequently leads to low back pain and/or sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
How can we help ourselves when the pain sets in? MASSAGE!! A well-trained massage therapist will know and understand how the muscles adapt during posture. The massage therapist will use different techniques based on the condition of the muscle. For example, a chronically shortened muscle needs to be lengthened by increasing blood flow to the area and using elongating techniques to return it to that happy, neutral position. Keep in mind that if the body has been adapting to a particular posture for years, one massage is not going to undo all of the damage. This is a great example of why we recommend massage as a part of monthly health maintenance. Body Logic’s reduced-price massage membership is a great way to combat the challenges of repetitive habits. Let us help you move better, feel better, and live better!