By Joel Wallace
We are surrounded by talk around posture.
This includes how we should stand, how we should sit, how posture is the cause of our pain and the amazing new devices we should get to instantly fix it. At work we often told about the correct ergonomic set up to prevent posture pain, we are told about how we should or shouldn’t move and lift to prevent injury.
It’s very easy to take this information as fact, with OH&S reinforcing this, and many health professionals feeding into it with treatment plans about correcting posture and switching on and off different muscles.
Interestingly, looking at the evidence available, very little of what we hear is well supported by research and is often contrary to evidence based advice.
A great journal article, ‘Sit up Straight’ – Time to Re-evaluate’, has recently been produced looking at the research and what it actually says when it comes to posture.
Below are 7 key points that that the authors concluded.
There is NO single ‘correct’ posture
Despite common posture beliefs, there is no strong evidence that one optimal posture exists or that avoiding ‘incorrect’ postures will prevent back pain.
Differences in postures are a fact of life
There are natural variations in spinal curvatures and there is no single spinal curvature strongly associated with pain. Pain should not be attributed to relatively ‘normal’ variations.
Posture reflects beliefs and mood
Posture can offer insights into a person’s emotions, thoughts and body image. Some postures are adopted as a protective strategy and may reflect concerns regarding body vulnerability. Understanding the reasons behind preferred postures can be useful.
It is safe to adopt more comfortable postures
Comfortable postures vary between individuals. Exploring different postures, including those frequently avoided, and changing habitual postures may provide symptomatic relief.
The spine is robust and can be trusted
The spine is a robust, adaptable structure, capable of safely moving and loading in a variety of postures. The common warning to protect the spine is not evidence-informed and can lead to fear.
Sitting is not dangerous
Sitting down for more than 30 minutes in one position is NOT dangerous. However, moving and changing positions can be helpful, and being physically active is important for your health.
One size does not fit all
Postural and movement screening does not prevent pain in the workplace. Preferred lifting styles are influenced by the naturally varying spinal curvatures and advice to adopt a specific posture or to brace the core is not evidence-based.
The full article can be found in full at: Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 2019 Volume:49 Issue:8 Pages:562–564 DOI:10.2519/jospt.2019.0610.