Stand Straighter, Move More Easily, Look Better, and Feel More Confident
Many of us may seek out massage therapy for relaxation or to alleviate sore or tight muscles. But massage can also help improve our posture, helping us to both stand up straighter and move more comfortably through the world.
Proper Body Alignment
Mom always said “stand up straight” and as it turns out, she was right. Good posture keeps all of our body parts in proper alignment. If your body is aligned correctly, you should be able to draw a straight line between your ear and your shoulder, and between your shoulder and hip. Your lower back should be gently curved inward but not arched.
Poor Posture and How It Affects the Body
Physically, poor posture manifests in a slouched silhouette, rounded shoulders, head that pushes or tilts forward, protruding belly, arched back, bent or locked-up knees. You might not even realize you have poor posture until you catch a look in a full-length mirror.
What Causes Poor Posture?
Sitting and standing in the wrong positions are the primary causes of poor posture. Our bodies become accustomed to being hunched over a computer, in an uncomfortable chair that’s too high or low off the ground, or with our heads bent down to look at our smartphones. Muscles, joints, and ligaments stiffen up and settle into incorrect positions.
Symptoms and Side Effects of Poor Posture
Pain in the lower back, neck, arms, and shoulders is frequently caused by poor posture. Headaches, limited range of motion, difficulty breathing properly, compression in our joints, and muscle fatigue can also occur. And the psychological effects of knowing you look hunched over and tired all the time can hurt your confidence.
How Massage Therapy Helps
A massage therapist will begin by assessing your current body positioning to determine what needs to be addressed (hunched back or jutting neck, twisted knees or hips, etc.). Swedish, sports, or deep tissue massage techniques are most commonly used to deal with misaligned posture. Your therapist can also teach you stretches and techniques to improve your posture over time.
Benefits of Massage Therapy
The positive effects of massage therapy on your posture can often be felt immediately after the session, and affect your entire body.
Muscles Are Relaxed
Massage works to help your muscles relax and loosen up. Therapists use long strokes and deep, firm pressure to get rid of adhesions or knots. Then you can more easily move your body into alignment.
Joints Are More Flexible
Massage also helps increase flexibility in your joints, which can tighten up and lock into the wrong positions over time. For example, your neck joints may be so tense from hunching that it can be painful to tuck your chin. But massage loosens everything up so you can pull it back into line.
Pressure Points Are Relieved
Poor posture can put unnecessary and intense pressure on various parts of your body. Massage therapy loosens everything up and helps take the pressure off those pain points, like a hip or knee that you’ve been favouring because your other one is too tight or locked up.
Other Ways to Treat or Improve Posture
Massage is amazing and helps to relieve poor posture, but there are other things you can do in between sessions to improve and maintain proper posture and reduce future pain.
Avoid Sitting for Extended Periods
If you habitually sit for long periods of time while working, set a timer to remind yourself to get up and walk around at least once an hour. And don’t spend more time sitting than you need to – when work is over, get up and do something active every day, if you can.
Lean Back Slightly When Seated
If you have to sit, try to lean backwards slightly while doing so. Having a more open angle at your hip joint decreases pressure on the discs in your spine, compressing them less and reducing back pain.
Keep a Straight Back When Walking or Standing
Try not to hunch or lean while you’re standing or walking. Squeezing the muscles in your butt (the glutes) helps keep your pelvis level at your hip joints, preventing it from angling and causing you pain.
Spend Less Time on Your Smartphone
Smartphones are definitely bad for our posture. We spend too much time with our heads bent down or shoulders hunched forward, looking at our tiny screens, which leads to misalignment and pain in the back, neck, and shoulders and can also impede our breathing.
Stop Looking Down
Looking down at your phone drastically increases the amount of force being exerted on your neck by your head, which leads to pain and poor posture. If you must use your phone, try not to look down while doing it – place it on a higher surface or use a stand and look at it straight on.
Exercise and Stretch Frequently
A sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for poor posture. Spending all your time in a desk chair or curled up on a sofa will naturally degrade your body’s alignment and cause you to stiffen up and get sore, even if you feel relaxed. Keep your body loose and maintain good range of motion through regular exercise (at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week is recommended) that includes stretching.
Book an Appointment With EWC to Get Started
If your posture is causing you pain, impeding your mobility, or having a negative effect on your confidence, contact a massage therapist at Elysian Wellness Centre to book an appointment for massage therapy. Our trained personnel can help you improve and maintain your posture—starting now.
Good posture may seem like an archaic concept, but in fact it’s incredibly important to your physical and emotional well-being. Physiotherapy can be incredibly helpful in improving your posture.