Perfect Posture is a False Expectation

Take a moment to google ‘posture’ and you will likely be hit with 1000’s of sites that will tell you what you need to fix.
You’re ‘over pronating’ when you run.
Your arms cross your midline.
You’re are knocked kneed.
Your spine is curved (scoliosis).

All of these so called biomechanical and postural ‘dysfunctions’ are supposed to be considered red flags and if they are not addressed, you are likely to get injured. So, riddle me this Batman; How is one of the world’s greatest marathoners a text book ‘over pronator’ or why does one of the greatest female marathoners look like her knees are about crash into one another and her arms are about to swing into her face. How is it that one of the first people to dead lift over 5X their own body weight had a huge ‘S-Curve’ to their spine? Why? Because, of the role of expectation.

Expectations have a huge impact on physiological function. If people are continuously told that sitting all day in a flexed position or over pronation when they run will cause pain, then it’s likely it will through what’s known as sensitization. Bad information can actually cause someone to have pain where they otherwise may not ever experience pain if they never knew that doing something may be the cause. In other words, our brains play a pivotal role in the determination of how we understand and experience pain. Pain is opinion of the brain, an output. It is not an input. Hence, professionals need to be mindful of not only the way they apply therapeutic touch, but in the choice of their words.

Biomechanics and posture are important when we start to consider things like extreme loading activities where your form can greatly influence tissue injury. As an example, let’s consider jumping off of a high structure and landing. If you don’t know how to properly land, you can risk placing an abnormal amount of stress on tissues that could lead to an injury. Another consideration when understanding the importance of posture would be a habit. A habit may involve the way you sit over a prolonged period of time. If you have pain when you sit in a flexed or slouched position, yet you consistently find yourself falling back into that same position. In this case, you would want to adjust this ‘habit’ to avoid persisting into the pain and sensitizing yourself to it. Even standing in ‘perfect posture’ or military, can be uncomfortable for anyone, yet many ‘posturologists’ (yes, it’s a thing), will try and tell you that you should stand with your bones stacked. Who does that???

To better understand the role of expectation, take the idea of our taste buds. If our taste buds are supposed to determine if we are biting an apple or an onion, then we would assume they are controlled through sensory input alone. So why is it when you reach for a drink from an opaque glass of what you THOUGHT was orange juice and instead, it was milk, do you think it’s so nasty? If it was simply sensory driven, your taste buds would immediately know it was milk and you would not be so repulsed. Our expectations or beliefs supersede any supposed sensory input being received and in turn the output is a gag reflex.

That is the whole idea behind the role of expectation. This is why, in spite of all the amazing technology and ergonomic solutions, pain still persists in the work place. This is because what is being addressed is not realistic. What should be encouraged more than anything is movement. The more varied movements we are making throughout our daily lives, the less likely we are going to experience pain. If you partner this with the desensitization of pain expectations, you will start to see a dramatic change in how you physically experience day to day life.

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