Good posture is often overlooked in terms of improving health. Having good posture not only makes us look great and project confidence, it can help you to achieve a better quality of life, prevent injuries and improve your physical performance.
Unfortunately, our sedentary lifestyles have affected our postural alignment more than we realise. We are working more hours, sitting for longer periods of time each day and spending more time commuting. With the rise of technology, we are also now seeing an increase in problems like “text neck”.
The posture that we adopt while texting in a mobile phone can cause severe injury in a long term. When we tilt our head forward we increase its weight up to 6 times depending on our posture. This excess of weight puts more pressure in our vertebral discs and forces the rest of the spine to change position to keep our balance. As result, I often see issues like stiff neck, headaches, neuritis, decrease of movement, tension at neck and shoulders, increase chance of vertebrae damage and intervertebral disc hernia in clinic.
When poor posture is kept for a long time, or there is a condition that puts the body in misalignment, some muscles are forced to work much harder, while others became weak and overstretched. This unbalance puts the joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons under continuous stress.
A postural education program, change of habits, exercises to strength the weak muscles and to stretch the tight muscles can be prescribed as a part of the treatment, but massage therapy is fundamental tool to help us to improve our posture.
Massage can be used effectively to loosen the muscles made tight and sore because of bad posture and helps to create a new balance between muscles groups. If a muscle is not is no longer tightened after massage, this muscle and its opposite muscle will contract more easily and a healthier balance would be restored in our body.
Different massage techniques can be used in a postural treatment, such as: remedial massage, deep tissue massage, trigger points and myofascial release. The myofascial release, for example, focuses primarily on the fascia (the connective tissue that wraps around most of the structures in our body, including muscles) allowing them to loosen and lengthen and consequently, promotes a better alignment in our joints. With good alignment in our joints and spine, we reduce the chance of accumulating tension, allow normal nerve extensibility, prevent injuries, normalize the range of motion of ours joints and reduce pain.
Massage can be used to improve posture, but be aware that it cannot reverse a deformity already present in the body. It can however, help to relieve the symptoms around the area, preventing the evolution of the deformity.
Written by: Carolina Mori Pinto.
Carolina is a Massage Therapist and Physiotherapist, graduating from her studies in Brazil. She is also a certified Mat Pilates Teacher, Acupuncture Therapist and specialist in postural re-education.