Balanced, Healthy Spinal Posture

Postural Pain

Postural pain can result from the overstretching of spinal ligaments and joints, which occurs when the body is placed in an unbalanced posture. Postural pain can develop gradually over time, from habitual poor posture, or it can be a major cause of poor recovery following a traumatic injury. In any case, poor posture can ultimately be a major contributor to most neck and back pain problems.

Balanced Spine
Your spine has three natural curves, which support the weight of your body and gravity. The neck (cervical) and lower back (lumbar) regions both have inward curves, while the mid-back (thoracic) region has an outward curve.

To minimize excessive load on the spine, maintaining these curves during standing and sitting is essential. While seated, rotate your hips forward slightly in order to maintain the natural inward curve of the lumbar spine. This may also be achieved by supporting the lumbar curve with a small pillow, rolled up towel or lumbar roll. Using good posture helps to decrease the strain on the joints and muscles, as well as decrease the load on the spine. Good posture also helps build and maintain endurance which can help prevent potential pain or injury.

Correct posture is obtained by learning to detect when your body has the least amount of stress by maintaining the natural curve of the spine. Stress is indicated by a slight burning and aching sensation, usually in the mid- and/or low back regions.

Treatment of Postural Pain
PDR therapists are trained to help patients learn how to correct spinal postural dysfunctions. They can help you to improve your awareness and learn proper posture techniques. Maintaining balanced posture throughout the day also requires increased strength and endurance of the postural muscles; including the scapular, lumbar, and abdominal muscle groups. Specific spinal strengthening utilizing MedX equipment, as well as prescribed postural endurance exercises, are key to being able to maintain proper posture throughout the entire day, thus protecting the spine from undue postural stress.

Click on this thumbnail to view the full posture infographic featured above.

PDR & The Graston Technique

PDR recently had the fantastic opportunity to send our therapists to an extensive continuing education course to learn the Graston Technique.

The Graston Technique is a style of treatment that utilizes instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization to assist care of our patients by releasing tension, or tightness from muscles that are limiting our movement or daily function and creating pain. Included are stainless steel instruments that are used directly on the skin to get deeper down into the muscle tissue. When muscle tension is not fully changed with stretches and strengthening exercises, Graston is a handy option to help assist our therapists to progress our patients closer to recovery.

Graston has been a powerful addition to our program this year, many times we see results in pain relief and increased motion immediately after use! Many of our therapists became “Certified Graston Providers” earlier this year after an extensive two-day educational course to learn the proper use of the Graston Instruments and how to implement them into a spine specific therapy environment. All the PDR therapists are now well versed in the science, benefits, and application of these techniques to provide a positive and efficient treatment for our patients in their road to recovery. We have already seen impressive results, especially with those who have suffered chronic pain and muscle restrictions for many years. Many have reported that they never thought they would move this well again in their life!

The Graston Technique is most effective when used in combination with our well-structured therapy and MedX program consisting of stretching, strengthening, education, posture, and body mechanics training. Using Graston alongside our other methods increases patient independence, creating more confidence and less fear when developing lifelong routine and self exercise programs to maintain all their functional goals achieved during therapy.

Back Pain Prevention

5 Harmful Habits to Avoid

  1. Twisting when Lifting
    A very common mistake, using incorrect body mechanics increases strain on your back.
    Be sure to keep the object close to your body, and bend at your knees and hips when lifting, not your back.
    Pivot your feet – don’t twist your back while lifting. “Move your nose and toes in the same direction.”

  2. Poor Posture
    Good posture keeps your body in balance and takes stress off your neck and back, and helps to avoid abnormal wear of joint surfaces.
    A small pillow, towel roll or lumbar roll can be used to support the inward curve of your low back if your chair/car seat doesn’t have adequate back support.

  3. Too little Exercise, Too Much Weight
    Research has shown that people who don’t exercise regularly and are overweight have an increased risk of back injury and/or back pain.
    The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes/week of cardiovascular exercise, such as a brisk walk, jogging, bicycling, swimming, elliptical machine, etc. – whatever you enjoy the most. Recent studies have shown as little as 10 minutes of exercise is beneficial, with the gold standard being 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, 5x/week. Anything you can do is better than nothing!

  4. Ignoring the Pain
    Persistent back pain should not be ignored. If left untreated it can progress and lead to serious disability.
    In most cases, back pain can be treated non-surgically. PDR Clinics can teach you how to manage your symptoms, protect your back and return to the daily activities you enjoy!

  5. Smoking Tobacco
    Among the many harmful effects of cigarette smoking on the body, early and more severe degeneration of the back occurs. Nicotine blocks the transport of oxygen and nutrients to the spine’s discs. Starved of oxygen, discs are much less able to repair themselves and tend to collapse at a much earlier stage than non-smokers. This painful collapse can lead to chronic back pain.