By Erin Boesl, Physical Therapist, Henning Physical Therapy Clinic
The human body is asymmetrical. Our internal organs and bodily systems – neurological, respiratory, circulatory, muscular and vision – are not the same on the left side of the body as they are on the right. Even with this asymmetry, we create balance in how we move.
But sometimes, we can develop postural imbalances. Posture is the way our body is positioned when sitting or standing. Abnormal posture can develop at a young age or through daily, occupational and repetitive work.
People also often overuse the dominant side of their body. Over time, this can lead to chronic muscle overuse or underuse, inflammation and pain. The pain then leads to other impairments and functional limitations, so we might not be able to complete daily activities.
Physical therapy is a great solution to posture imbalance.
We can perform an evaluation and develop a personalized treatment plan to suit your needs.
One of my patients, Jessica Strege, came to me with a pinched nerve in her neck and shoulder, as well as some chronic back pain. I discovered that most of her pain came from abnormal posture that actually stemmed from her diaphragm and pelvis.
Over six weeks, we used exercises to turn on and turn off certain muscles to improve her alignment. When muscles are in the correct resting position, they can begin strengthening more efficiently. After her treatment ended, Jessica said she no longer has pain every day like she did before.
If you have daily pain or postural imbalances, a physical therapist could help you find relief.
The following are some examples of imbalances or habits that might indicate bad posture.
- Asymmetry of the head and face. This means that one side doesn’t mirror the other side.
- You can turn your head farther to one side.
- One shoulder is higher than the other (typically left).
- One shoulder blade protrudes more.
- You can raise one arm higher than the other.
- You can reach behind your back farther with one arm.
- Your ribs protrude more in the front on one side (typically left).
- Your chest expands more on one side when you breathe.
- One side of your pelvis is higher.
- One leg appears longer.
- One foot turns out more than the other when standing or walking.
- Your trunk can rotate more to one side than the other.
- You have scoliosis with a right rib hump.
- You have overdeveloped back or calf muscles on one side.
- Sleeping on one side.
- Always crossing legs one way while sitting.
- Putting more weight on one leg when standing (typically right).
- Turning your head to one side when reading.
- Always holding a baby on one side.
Do you identify with any of these? If the answer is yes, now would be a great time for you to make an appointment with a physical therapist to see how we could help. Tri-County Health Care has rehab clinics in Henning, 218-548-5580; Bertha, 218-924-2250; and Wadena, 218-631-7475.
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About the Author: Erin Boesl, Doctor of Physical Therapy, has completed training with the Postural Restoration Institute. She can perform a specialized postural assessment and develop an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your postural asymmetry and dysfunction. Erin has worked for Tri-County Health care for 12 years, most currently at the Henning Physical Therapy Clinic. She is also a wife and mother of four children and resides in Parkers Prairie with her family.