If you are wondering: Is bad posture permanent or genetic? What bad posture does to you? Where does bad posture cause pain? How bad posture affects your body or health? How bad posture causes back pain? Or if it is true to wonder, will bad posture cause back pain? Will bad posture cause leg pain? You are probably wondering what does bad posture even look like or some may wonder, can bad posture cause indigestion or heart pain?
As a chiropractor with a focus on Postural Neurology and Functional Movement, the two foundations of posture, I certainly have a lot to share with you so sit tight, and let’s explore these questions.
Is bad posture permanent or genetic?
The answer is yes and no!!! For most people, it is an acquired situation while for others, their posture may be identical to someone in their immediate family or previous generation(s). Frankly, when it comes to posture, all it takes is a few bad habits, a few deviations from ideal, before the whole body is impacted.
For instance, if you have a slightly prolapsed arch on one side, and you happen to be a runner, this slight arch issue becomes more prevalent and its negative impact quickly gets extended to the ankle, knee, and hip on the same side (more than likely) and then next thing you know, there is an imbalance between the right and left sides of the body when running (or walking for that matter). This creates a muscular imbalance not only in the legs but in the arms and then the torso and neck. Next thing you know, the whole body is impacted and there is compensation throughout the whole movement. Add working behind the desk to this runner’s scenario and you have got yourself a person with bad posture!
You see clearly how one simple thing can easily lead to a bad posture and that one thing might have been inherited from a parent (how many times have you heard so and so walks like his dad or whomever?).
Now the question is if bad posture is permanent and here is another, ‘it depends’. If the damage has been long-lasting and led to an impact on the actual structure(s) involved, then yes. If you tear a piece of paper slightly, you can’t pretend it did not tear; your goal should, therefore, shift to how to prevent the progression of the shift. If in the above scenario, the ACL of the knee ends up tearing, then despite the repair of the ligament, there was damage to the actual structure, which will be permanent and therefore, permanently impact the way that person walks or runs even if there is no pain.
What does good posture look like?
Generally speaking, good posture from the front side includes an even top of the torso where most refer to as shoulders, even bony parts of the pelvis at the waist, even knees, where ankles connect to the feet, the hands being by the side and turned neutral and not rolled inward or outward (not shown in the diagram on the left)
From the side view, the plumb line should be intact. That means the line connecting, the ear hole, midpoint of the ball of the shoulder, hip, and the bony part outside the ankle fall on a straight line. Almost no-one at my clinic has the ideal posture and I am more inclined to say that almost no-one in society has this ideal posture.
At my practice, on the initial exam, I take a postural image of the patient as the baseline to the treatment and refer to it often to determine the postural improvement. This is the only true gauge of how your current posture vs the future posture compares.
Will bad posture cause back pain?
Bad posture, sooner or later leads to many musculoskeletal issues, back pain being one of them. I am asked often, “ Will bad posture cause leg pain? “ and the answer is the same. The most common causes of back pains stem from muscle-skeletal issues and bad posture means stress on that system of muscles, ligaments, joints, and bones as well as their associated functions involved in movement. While lower back pain may exist even if you are at rest, it is the movement that requires the muscles to ‘work’ not by themselves but in conjunction with the other body parts when moving.
Lower back pain can occur as a result of issues within the lower back or secondary to issues in the lower and upper segments. Do not be surprised if you suffer from lower back pain as a result of your lifestyle that involves your neck and upper back. In my blog, “Why do I have neck and back pain?”, I have explained the correlation in detail.
When it comes to aches and pains related to your muscles, ligaments, joints, and bones, always look at your posture and know that your source of pain is not the source of your problem and that the solution, therefore, does not involve only the area you experience your pain at.
Can bad posture cause indigestion, or heart pain?
It is not surprising to finally see that this correlation has been revealed.
“Believe nothing, no matter who said it, even if I said it unless it aligns with your own reason and common sense”- Buddah
If our internal organs are housed within our body and bad posture, in essence, compresses and tightens the ‘housing’, we don’t need to be a physiologist to see that there will be a problem. Let’s remember, how we feel when a pair of pants are too tight or when we wear an item of clothing that is tight around the chest or waist.
Thankfully, for those of you who have to have a published article to believe anything, in the article published by Harvard Health Publishing of Harvard Medical School, you can see how your posture can cause issues with your internal organs and their functions. While I often get referrals from other physicians, I have never had a referral for issues related to internal organ malfunctions. I wonder how many of you reading this article have indigestion, heart-burn, chest tightness, allergies, or other issues that could be a result of the organ in charge of those functions being compressed or ‘stressed’ as a result of a bad posture. Do they teach this in medical schools or is the solution always some sort of drug? This topic could be an entirely different blog to write!
Who helps fix bad posture?
Now that you see how there is more to the posture than the aesthetics, let’s explore the options to get the bad posture fixed. Anyone reading this should know that no medicine is going to fix your bad posture. In fact, medicine is not meant to fix anything but to alleviate the symptoms. As long as the CAUSE is there, the PROBLEM is there.
The next reasonable option is physical therapy. I believe physical therapy is the closest thing Medicine has ever accepted as an alternative to the medicine that physicians prescribe. Unfortunately, I don’t believe physical therapists get to do what physical therapy is all about. After all, the physical therapy industry is heavily reliant on insurance reimbursements and believe me when I say, unless you comply with the insurance company guidelines which are never meant to improve the quality of your life but to diminish the amount of pain, the physical therapist does not really get to do what physical therapy is all about.
You see, if you isolate an area, and attend to that area only while movement is taking place, you will not truly address the problem. Your problem is not in isolation even if your pain may be in only one location. Your problem with posture plays its role in movement specifically. If movement is a concert, and the concert is not going well, going after one musician and expecting the concert to go well is a fallacy. I have written a blog on Cross Syndrome or Layered Syndrome . I suggest you pause here and read that blog now!
Then you have Chiropractic or your Chiropractor to go to. While Chiropractic works great on the Neuro-musculo-skeletal system, an adjustment alone is not going to fix the issue. Adjustment stimulates the nervous system and with the nervous system being the controlling system of your body, it is then expected that the right solution is instilled. The way I look at it is as if a teacher walks into the class and says: ‘Kids, listen up, I have something important to tell you’; If there is nothing important to say, the kids will go back to where they were at. If after the nervous system is stimulated through adjustment or spinal manipulation but nothing else is impacted, it goes back to the state it has been familiar with.
Through Postural Neurology, the neurology behind posture, the part(s) of your brain that needs special attention will be stimulated and exercised. This is called Positive Neuroplasticity and is fundamental to the solution.
So when I talk about Postural Neurology and Brain exercises to improve your posture, I am not talking about going to the gym, lifting weights, using bands or doing Soduku! In the video below, this patient who is a second degree Black Belt, has a history of chronic right hip pain, neck and right shoulder issues leading to imbalances that not only limited her Martial Arts but impacted her daily life.
Now, if movement is a concert, your brain is the conductor and your muscles, ligaments, joints and bones are the musicians. By working on Positive Neuroplasticity, the brain gets the right musical notes in front of it to conduct the concert. The musicians not only need to know their musical instruments, but know when to chime in. Sometimes, they need to hold their notes steady while the spotlight is on the ‘pianist’.
Watch this video to see what I mean exactly!
In this video, you see a patient going through Functional Movement using DNS or Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization.
He had a history of chronic neck pain that was interfering with his job as well as the sports he enjoyed participating in. His issue was chronic and the movement patterns and the stabilization of the neck was shifted from the primary areas to auxiliary areas. His shoulders specially the left one, while having full range of motion, was not holding up its role. In this video you see how the shoulder joint is put to work while the rest of the body resumes the task of stabilizing the body.
Functional Movement is the only way the root cause of bad movement, postural decline, and associated issues are addressed. It is based on the developmental progression in movement seen in babies. The movement patterns are universal and that is because we are programmed to innately move that way. The problem comes AFTER we start playing one-sided sports, sitting for long times, looking at our digital devices almost continuously, and injuring ourselves without even being active.
When you start noticing a decline in your posture, there has been a chronic progressive decline in many areas of the body. The little aches and pains that you may have noticed along the way, that you have ignored or did not take seriously were the body’s clues that you were not on the right path.
It is easier to fix a problem sooner than later and it takes much less time to fix an issue that is not chronic. When there are wrong patterns of movement present and you go to a gym to workout, you are actually doing more damage than good. If a joint is not stable and balanced, and you challenge it, you are bound to injure the joint more than you realize.
Posture is the window to your health and as such, its decline should not be taken lightly.