Posture Correction | Great Health Guide
Posture Correction

Posture Correction

Written by Margarita Gurevich senior physiotherapist

Is there a one size fits all for ‘perfect posture’? You might recall being told by your parents, when you were a child, not to slouch, to sit up straight, to hold your head up as you walk. While these reminders are good, there is much more involved when it comes to postural correction. The main thing to remember is that no two individuals are the same, hence it’s logical that there won’t be a ‘generic’ perfect posture.

Our posture has a great impact on our physical and emotional health. It affects not only our appearance, walking style, balance and sports performance, but also respiratory and digestive functions and other health parameters.

As physiotherapists we deal with postural issues on a daily basis. Interestingly, when people think of the term ‘postural correction’, many believe that the areas which need to be focused on are the neck, shoulders, and back. Yet when we assess a patient’s posture, we thoroughly examine not only the neck position, spinal curvature and shoulder height, but also the patient’s leg position (e.g. bow knees) and the arch position of the feet (e.g. flat feet). The reason is that if there are issues in the joints of the lower half of the body ( the hips/knees/ankles) this can have a bearing on the person’s upper body posture.

Some common issues which are often identified during the postural assessment are:

  • scoliosis

  • excessive kyphosis – increased curvature of the thoracic spine (upper back)

  • insufficient lordosis – reduced curvature of the lumbar spine (lower back)

  • excessive neck protraction – forward head posture

  • winging of the scapulae (shoulder blades)

  • downward rotation of the scapulae

  • others

Want your own FREE COPY of Great Health Guide

& delivered to your inbox each month?

Look to your right…

It’s really important for the assessment to be functional. For example, when a patient comes in with lower back pain, we assume that incorrect posture is the main factor causing pain, or at the least a big contributing factor. If this hypothesis is correct then the person’s pain should start to decrease once we correct his/her posture. This is why the assessment mentioned above is so important. Having done the assessment it becomes obvious what needs to be done in order to help that particular individual attain and maintain the right posture. If there is in fact a significant postural component to the person’s pain, then it will start to decrease fairly quickly once the posture is corrected.

‘So why is there no one ‘perfect” posture?

Once again it is because all people are unique. In fact, you can take two people who both have upper back pain, for example, give them the same postural exercises, but while one person will start feeling better in the corrected posture, the other one might start to feel worse. Let’s focus on this point in a bit more detail.

A common postural exercise which is often prescribed by some physios is to take the shoulder blades down and back, hold for a few seconds, then relax. Yet will this exercise always be helpful?

Two common postural issues listed above were ‘winging’ and ‘downward rotation’ of the shoulder blades. One special test which many physios use is the ‘single arm wall push up’ test. During this test, the patient places one hand on the wall and performs ‘the single arm wall push up’. As the person does this, two movements indicate what is happening to their shoulder blade on that side.

  1. Often the shoulder blade will go out to the side and rotate up. This would be caused by weakness of the muscles between and below the shoulder blades, primarily the rhomboids and lower trapezius muscles.

  1. On the contrary, sometimes the shoulder blade will go out to the side and rotate downwardly rather than up. This would be caused by weakness of the muscles between and above the shoulder blades, primarily the serratus anterior and levator scapula muscles.

Hence, the exercise of taking the shoulder blades down and back will be very helpful if, the patient has weak muscles between and BELOW the shoulder blades.

It will have limited benefit if the patient has weak muscles between and ABOVE the shoulder blade. For that individual the correct exercise would be to bring the shoulder blades back and do a small shrug. This will help to slightly lift the shoulder blades.

In summary, there is no one ‘perfect posture’. There are, however, specific exercises which will help each individual attain and maintain the ‘perfect posture’ for them. Clinical Pilates is an efficient approach to correct your posture.

It could be used as monotherapy or in combination with other prescription exercises. Talk to your physiotherapist about which exercises will be best for you.

Author of this article:

Exercise Physiologist Carrick Dalton has a keen passion for the body and its functions and is  continually looking for ways to increase his knowledge and skill base for the rehabilitation, and prevention of, injuries and conditions. Carrick has previous experience working with various sporting teams including Melbourne United in the NBL.
Margarita Gurevich is senior physiotherapist and uses Clinical Pilates, SCENAR Therapy  other evidence-based techniques, including Real Time Ultrasound and McKenzie Treatment. Margarita specialises in sports injuries, women’s health (including incontinence) and gastrointestinal issues. Carrick & Margarita may be contacted at Health Point Physiotherapy website.

To get your FREE MAG each month CLICK HERE.

Love this? Your friends probably will too. 

Why not share the love & forward this article.

Author Great Health Guide

More posts by Great Health Guide

Leave a Reply