Your spinal health and the overall health of your skeleton and muscles together as a system falls under the category of postural alignment. Good posture isn’t just about sitting up straight. Lack of enough motion combined with the way you sit, stand, and lie in bed will naturally create imbalances in this system. When possible, we need to compensate for these imbalances, and there are many ways to bring alignment back into your posture and musculoskeletal system.
Bones do what muscles tell them to do. Your muscles do what your brain tells them to do. All skeletal motion is initiated by muscular activity. Not all muscular activity is initiated by your voluntary will. The skeleton should be balanced across four load-bearing joints on each side of your body: ankle, knee, hip, shoulder. If you’re missing some of your limbs or load-bearing joints, this article may not apply to you.
Everyday life impinges upon the tissues of our body as much as our thoughts do, and the accumulation of tensions create contractions in the muscles. These contractions materialize in the form of micro-spasms, full-blown spasms, aches and pains, chronic pain, tenderness, lethargy, plus cramps from chronically imbalanced load-bearing joints. The tissues around these joints will deteriorate, and the joints themselves deteriorate, in direct proportion to their lack of use and lack of balance.
Replacement of said joints does not restore balance. Without taking measures to restore balance, people end up having surgeries which often could have been avoided through the simple application of self-discipline.
However, self-discipline may not be possible if you haven’t first taken steps to restore belief in yourself and find meaning in your suffering. We address that separately as part of The Self-Healing Path and Belief, Meaning & Purpose sections of this website.
This article specifically addresses our postural alignment. We address Flexibility and Range of Motion in a separate article.
On being pain free
If you’re not willing to put in the work, you can’t expect any results. However, once you learn a few exercises that can help you strengthen the specific core and posture alignment muscle groups, then all you need is about 10 minutes twice per day. A simple maintenance practice of 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening will help keep things in balance and help you feel better overall. The benefit is cumulative.
“Our common possession is the body’s inner power to heal itself and be pain free. Being pain free takes personal effort and commitment. It doesn’t come from a pill bottle, a surgeon’s knife, a brace, or in specially designed mattresses, chairs, and tools.”
Pete Egoscue, sports physiologist and author of the best-selling book Pain Free.
Everyone should read the first three chapters of the book mentioned above. It may help prevent you from having unwanted surgeries!
Books on Postural Alignment
Back in Control: A Surgeon’s Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain, 2nd Edition
Paperback – November 18, 2016
by Dr. David Hanscom (Author)
Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain
Paperback – February 29, 2000
by Pete Egoscue (Author), Roger Gittines (Author)
True to Form: How to Use Foundation Training for Sustained Pain Relief and Everyday Fitness
Hardcover – May 17, 2016
by Eric Goodman (Author)
Pain-Free Posture Handbook: 40 Dynamic Easy Exercises to Look and Feel Your Best
Paperback – May 17, 2016
by Lora Pavilack (Author), Nikki Alstedter (Author)
Posture Makeover: The Secret to Looking Great, Feeling Confident and Living Pain Free
Paperback – October 7, 2017
by Michelle Joyce (Author), Puk Fenneman (Illustrator)
The New Rules of Posture: How to Sit, Stand, and Move in the Modern World
Paperback – November 29, 2006
by Mary Bond (Author)
A manual for understanding the anatomical and emotional components of posture in order to heal chronic pain
The many benefits of postural alignment & balance
As one of the primary foundation categories for mindbody wellness, everyone who lives and breathes benefits from proper posture and musculoskeletal alignment. You should prioritize learning postural alignment because it’s something you can do at home. Learning about the relationship between yourself and your mindbody will go a long way towards helping you find the answers you need to get a better night’s rest.
Proper posture keeps bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly; it helps decrease the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in arthritis.
Postural integrity decreases the stress on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together; prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions; prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy; prevents strain or overuse problems; prevents backaches and muscular pain. (1)
The benefits of good posture also include reduced back and neck pain, improved mood, improved memory and learning, improved breathing, and the strength of balance makes you feel confident and powerful. (2) The side effects or poor posture include headaches, sleep problems, a bad mood, less motivation, foot pain, lower back pain, carpal tunnel, fatigue, and more. (3)
Does that put things into perspective, maybe a little bit?
So how do we fix posture imbalances?
Posture is just one component of your health, but it can have a surprisingly big impact. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to fix your posture, and once you do, you might be pleased to find that you see improvements in all areas of your life.
Some of the most powerful therapies available today to help strengthen your core, improve your balance, and correct your postural integrity are:
Rolfing Structural Integration
All these therapies can help you alleviate chronic pain, increase core strength, and extend your range of motion. See the resources and links below for additional information.
Postural alignment is going to take some work on your part
“The body is an engineering miracle. It’ll heal itself if you just give it an opportunity. Even if you are experiencing bone-on-bone pain due to loss of cartilage in your hip or knee, it’s still not too late to prevent the need for hip or knee replacement surgery.
“Why of all the tissue in the body would the cartilage be the only one that does not regenerate? The answer is that it does regenerate. You can avoid hip or knee surgery if you get proper training that includes a regiment of full-body postural alignment methods like those found in the Egoscue Method.”
Because postural alignment consists of strengthening minor muscle groups, the exercises you learn from a therapist are usually something you can do at home on your own.
Reading the first three chapters of “PAIN FREE” might help you decide to opt for postural alignment instead of surgery! Body awareness and physiology should be part of required high-school education, but the author makes it pretty clear in just a few pages how important this subject really is to our overall health and wellness.
If you are currently visiting a chiropractor on a regular basis, you should consider looking into Egoscue, Foundation, and Rolfing method therapies as soon as possible. These methods help correct underlying structural weaknesses you may have that cause you to feel the need for a chiropractic adjustment. (We do realize 20th-century chiropractic is transforming into integrative therapies beyond liberal bone manipulation).
Surgery doesn’t eliminate the need for balance
The type of pain that eventually leads to anyone having a surgery to replace a knee, hip, or even spinal fusions could potentially be avoided through posture alignment.
If you sit at a desk or are not very mobile during the course of your normal workday, or if you spend a lot of time driving or sitting in general, then you would benefit greatly from postural alignment types of therapy. Remember, once you get started with these activities, you can do them at home.
And if you’ve already had surgery for a knee or hip, postural therapy is still quite essential for you! Otherwise, what’s to keep the pain from coming back if you haven’t addressed the reasons why you needed the surgery to begin with? There are so many books which address these issues, and rarely is there reason to compromise your skeletal integrity – except perhaps with deformities and accidents.
Avoid the scalpel at all costs
Spinal cord stimulation and stem cell therapy are reported to be the best non-surgical alternatives for spinal fusions. However, both of these treatments do not address underlying postural problems.
If you’re looking to get your body into balance and avoid surgery, you need to start taking postural alignment seriously and look into physical therapies which can help get you balanced, such as Egoscue Method or Foundation Training. It could save you from getting cut up by a scalpel!
A combination of therapies which include exercises or stretches from Egoscue Method, Pilates, Foundation Training, and Yoga with Deep Breathing and Meditation are all very helpful with all types of musculoskeletal pain. If you spend just 10 minutes doing some of these methods, you’ll notice a dramatic improvement in how you feel.
Be honest with yourself and your situation
- Think of the price you’ve already paid for all the pain you’ve experienced which might only be the result of poor posture or out-of-alignment load bearing joints (such as shoulders, hips, knees and ankles).
- While the benefit of postural alignment (esp. When combined with mild stretching) is cumulative, it requires you to practice every day. You don’t have to kill yourself, you just need to start one day. The next day, push yourself to do just a little more. If you start with five this week, do six minutes twice per day next week. Do five minutes 3x per day. Whatever works for you.
- If you feel like you are running out of options and are headed for knee or hip replacement surgery, or are being advised that you need a spinal fusion surgery, you are highly advised to find an Egoscue clinic or a Foundation Training center get yourself in there to learn some new moves! Remember, your bones go exactly where your muscles tell them to go. Or maybe you need more aggressive integration therapy such as Rolfing.
- After a chiropractic adjustment which puts bones back where they belong, your muscles will pull them out of alignment again if you aren’t working on strengthening the weaknesses which cause your muscles to do that in the first place. By learning methods you could use at home to balance your own bones, and if you are disciplined about it, you could reverse the conditions which have you fearing surgery is inevitable.
In many cases, learning postural alignment methods and strengthening your skeletal balance is orders of magnitude less expensive (and less painful) than any surgery you could possibly have. That is, if postural alignment helps with your particular condition; you won’t know if it will work for you until you try.
Posture & Postural Alignment
Additional Resources & References
Postural Alignment & Posture Therapy in Denver, Colorado
There are (2) official Egoscue Clinics in Colorado; one in Boulder, and one in Denver:
The Pain Free Clinic of Denver offers both Foundation and Egoscue method training. Their slogan is, “We help you get out of pain by finding the root of the issue & applying corrective exercises to realign the body.”
Myokinesthetics, a groundbreaking technique allows you to rebalance the nervous system, reset the body, and relieve the root problem, is offered at this Littleton Massage Clinic: http://h2uplus.com/
Rolfing fascial tissue therapy has been around for about 50 years, so it’s not surprising to see several Rolfing therapists around the Denver metro area: https://goo.gl/maps/krH7SUwoSVz
The Denver Vital Center for Mind-Body Health offers Bowstring Method, which promotes a curvy, springy, healthy posture and postural alignment: http://www.vitalbowspring.com/
There are several other therapists who specialize in postural alignment around Denver. Many of these therapists offer Egoscue Method as part of their services: https://goo.gl/maps/HwqE4K5Yegs
Learn more about how postural alignment can help eliminate pain
The Egoscue Method – Eliminate Chronic Pain and Enjoy an Active Life
Foundation Training – Take Yourself From Pain To Performance
Welcome to Eldoa Method – Providing You With The Techniques and Knowledge to Heal Your Spine
The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration
Global Bowstring Method (Sridaiva)
Gokhale Method: Primal Posture
KnowYourBack.org – Postural Training
Basic Concepts of the Postural Restoration Institute
Posture Power: How To Correct Your Body’s Alignment
15 Minutes to Better Posture
Posture & Body Mechanics
The Ultimate Guide to Posture
11 Surprising Side Effects Of Bad Posture That Go Beyond Appearance
Degenerative Knee (Bone on Bone) Will Regenerate
Stem Cell Alternative to Spinal Surgery
The Musculo-Skeletal System