Posture: The Silent Cause of Your Pain

By Melissa Thomas, NASM-PT, CF-L1, LMT

There are a few common patterns of postural dysfunction that plague our chronically seated society, and very few of us are immune to the struggle of achieving postural balance and living a pain and injury-free life. Muscle imbalances plague us no matter what we do, even here at Trek where physical fitness levels are incredibly high. Neck and back pain are the most commonly reported symptoms we treat as a massage therapists, but in more severe cases I am often treating migraine headaches, tendinitis, arthritis, ITB pain and SI-joint dysfunction, to name a few alternative ailments.

When a muscle group is shortened and the antagonist (or opposing) group is lengthened, an imbalance is created around the joint; pain often results and unfortunately in some cases, injury occurs. These imbalances creep up over time as a result of movement patterns like sitting for hours and days on end at a desk, in a car, or on a bicycle. Think of this……A bicycle rider is hammering down the highway on her lunch break, doing what she loves to do. She returns to her cubicle, sits back down to a host of emails that came in while on break….cue the pain: that annoying low-back ache starts barking and suddenly her hip aches and begs for attention. What could be going on here?

Well, when the hip is in a flexed position for excessive periods of time and the hip flexor tissue (psoas, quads, and adductors) are chronically shortened & tightened, significant muscle imbalance occurs, and aches and pains present themselves. Conversely, when hips are in this flexed position, the posterior tissue (glutes, external hip rotators, and hamstrings) is lengthened and the muscles are inhibited & weak. The result is commonly an anteriorly-tilted pelvis and lumbar tightness & pain. We see this also with shoulders that round forward – holding our phones, typing at our desk, holding the steering wheel, or hunched over our fat bike - the anterior tissue of our chest (mainly pectorals) & neck is in a closed position and it becomes short and tight. More pain.

What can we do? It’s simple, really…stretch/release/open the tight tissue and strengthen the lengthened and inhibited tissue – break the patterns by doing the opposite. My massage practice utilizes therapeutic techniques that include sports massage, stretching and in some cases cupping therapy. Educating and empowering my clients with proper self-care tools is also an important part of my practice as well. I am a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT). I spend a great deal of time discussing appropriate foam-rolling techniques, and stretching & mobilization routines as well as how and what muscles need to be strengthened in order to change the muscle lengths over time. I believe this is the key to being able to enjoy a pain and injury free life and bring your body into balance.

Our philosophy is structured around client education. If you do not understand the cause of your ailments, however simple or complex, eradicating them is much more difficult. Our vision is to bring balance to the body and education to the mind to empower each client we work with. Contact us today to schedule your bodywork or movement education session.

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