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Question: I don't have back pain, but when I look at myself my back and shoulders look rounded. Is that just bad posture?
Answer: Well Sue, let me help you understand what you see. Everyone uses the very common term posture but I don't think people really understand what posture truly means. You see yourself as you are today but your posture is the result of how you were in the past... I'm talking years ago, even decades ago.
What does that mean? Well, good or bad posture is the result of your lifestyle. In other words, your posture is the result of your habit patterns, your positions and the things you do everyday, day in and day out.
You see our bodies are very good at adapting to the environment we place them in and if we look back on our life, the first 18 years we sit in school, and if you go to college you sit some more, and if you work at a computer you sit even more, so by the time you are 40 your body has gotten so used to sitting - and your muscles are most comfortable in the sitting position - but that sitting has caused some physical changes that in turn can cause some postural dysfunctions and if left alone will in turn cause structural changes that will be for the most part uncorrectable.
One of our subscribers said it best, "Our bones only go where our muscles put them." That is a great statement, and I hope you understand it... if not keep reading.
We have just talked about how our bodies adapt to what we give them and how our bodies can be pulled into abnormal positions based on the many factors in our lives. Understanding this concept is more than half the battle, because you can now work to prevent and also correct problems in your posture, if you understand the equation.
Your rounded back and rounded shoulders are the result of what are called "muscle imbalances." These are causing this physical dysfunction you see in your posture. You are not the only one with this problem, it has been known for years what it is and what causes it and even though your doctor did not tell you how to address it does not mean that it can't be done. Here are the nuts and bolts of the problem...
If you are wondering how our muscles are responsible for the posture you have now, you must understand that our muscles can be either tight or flexible and/or also strong or weak, and not to make the situation even more complex but... our muscles can be in any combination of these four states from front to back and side to side.
If we look at your rounded back and rounded shoulders you will see that your head and shoulders are being pulled forward, that would indicate that the muscles in the front of your body are overly strong and/or overly tight compared to the muscles in your upper back which are weak and have more flexibility. That is how we describe the imbalance between your muscles and that's the root of the problem.
Please realize that your body is and has been undergoing these physical changes for a long time and there is no quick fix, it is a physical problem and it will require a physical solution. There is not a pill, injection or massage that can make your muscles come back to balance, it takes work.
Now just because you know that there is an imbalance and you even know the direction of the imbalances does not mean you can just start doing a general exercise program. In order to correct a known imbalance you will need to know very specific and very targeted stretches and exercises in order to correct the imbalances. If you choose to do nothing, your imbalances will over time develop into a condition that will cause you pain.
We strongly recommend that you start a proactive approach to your current situation. You are lucky that you do not have pain. It is a shame and I feel with all my heart the pain that the millions of people that are suffering from conditions that could have been prevented or corrected years ago, if only more people understood the effects of muscle imbalances and how they effect our bodies.
Sue, I hope I have shown you that it's more than just bad posture and I hope you seek a qualified expert in muscle imbalances and work effectively on this to prevent any further progression of your condition.