Could abnormal posture be the source of your pain?

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.

Physical Therapist works with a patient on leg exercises.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.

 

Imbalances:

  • 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).Physical Therapist works with patient on leg exercises.
  • 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.

 

Faulty habits:

  • 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.

For more information, click here.

 

Erin with her family posing for a family photo.

Erin and her family.

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.

6 Responses to “Could abnormal posture be the source of your pain?”

  1. My father has really bad back pain and I think it could be from his awful posture through the years. Thank you for pointing out that one leg appearing longer than the other can be a sign he needs to see a physical therapist. I think this is the case and I want to make sure we find the best therapist possible. I’ll have to do some research and find a great physical therapist for him in our area.

  2. Thanks for explaining that if you can turn your head farther to one side than the other, then that might be a sign of bad posture. I noticed that I could turn my head to the left more than I could to the right. I’ll see a physical therapist so I can fix my posture.

  3. Thanks for pointing out that correcting the muscle position when resting can help strengthen them which helps our posture as well. I hope to get that kind of treatment because I have been noticing that I keep on slouching when typing away in my computer. This might cause an issue when I reach the age of 40, so I hope to get this treated now.

  4. I totally agree when you said that we can overuse the dominant side of our body at times. As you mentioned, this can lead to chronic muscle overuse or underuse, inflammation, and pain. I guess that is what happened to me since I usually sleep on my left side to avoid the heaviness on the right part of my head. However, my left side is now in pain because of putting all my weight on it every night.

Leave a Reply