We use acupuncture to strategically your back pain in 3 steps:
1. first, we use acupuncture to relieve back pain by relaxing the painful/tight muscles (the main reason most come to see us!).
2. Second, we use acupuncture to activate the unresponsive, “sleepy” muscles not being engaged as you sit all day. For many you walk out of our clinic with a more responsive back, “reset” and “balanced” for functional stability. For some, this is not enough. If this is all we do, nothing will change long term and the pain will return.
3. The third stage is often overlooked by many therapists. Here we take extra time to help you become more aware of your specific core instability patterns and to teach you exercises that you can integrate into your everyday life, not just your workouts.
The problem with poor posture (and the reason health professionals emphasize it) is that over time it can cause musculoskeletal pain just about anywhere in the body. As acupuncturists we see so many people walk through our doors that have neck pain, back pain, hip pain, shoulder pain etc. While musculoskeletal pain can stem from things like injuries or repeated use, there’s a good chance that your everyday posture is contributing to the pain you are experiencing in those areas.
Completing my undergraduate degree in Kinesiology has given me a great appreciation for the structural components of the human body and how that allows us to sit, stand, sleep and move on a daily basis. When we talk about “good posture” a lot of people may think back to their parents or grandparents telling them to “sit up straight”, “do not slouch” or “keep their shoulders back”. While those may all be true, there’s a lot more to one’s posture than simply sitting up straight at the dinner table. Posture is defined as “the position of a person’s body in space, the alignment of body parts in relation to one another and to the environment”1. This definition explains that posture is not just a factor when we are sitting or standing, but is integral in all of our movements whether that is climbing the stairs, lifting up a box or shoveling your driveway.
The most common poor posture seen in today’s society is a forward head, rounded shoulders and increased thoracic kyphosis which is a rounding of the upper back2,3. The increased use of smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices has played a big part in this, with a lot of us spending too much time hunched over them during the day4.
Because your posture is something you rarely think about as you are going through your busy day to day activities, having someone to assess it for you can be really beneficial. You are unlikely to notice that your hips are not level or your head has shifted forward if that’s how it is every single day. For my final practicum in my Kinesiology undergraduate I specialized in posture assessments at The Acupuncture Turning Point. Here we formally evaluated clients to help show them where their imbalances were, as well as give them some simple exercises or movement awareness changes they could use to help systematically improve their postures.
At The Acupuncture Turning Point we are big believers in “bringing out the athlete in everyone”. This does not mean getting everyone into high level sport by any means, but simply implies that we believe everyone should be able to move efficiently, participate in activities they enjoy and just be active without it causing pain to their bodies. I am fortunate enough to be a high level athlete competing within a National Training Center so I understand how focusing on good posture in simple activities like sitting at your desk or walking your dog can translate to increased performance as an athlete. Whether you are looking to compete as an elite athlete or you just want to be able to play with your kids, taking a look at your everyday posture is a great start to improving your quality of movements and quality of life.
We can help you create new movement patterns that will transform your posture. This process will allow you to dynamically engage your core and centre so you can move more efficiently. You can be more inherently stable in everything you do. Net result: not only better function but long term less pain! We aim to transform your pain into your teacher, your movement into your healing, your posture into an integrated process between awareness and action.
If you feel you have chronic pain in the low back or upper back/neck area that could be caused by posture issues, we can also offer a formal posture assessment service too. This static and active posture assessment will evaluate sitting, standing and movement function. You will receive a posture exercise and awareness program. An evaluation summarizing many specific posture components will enable you to understand and monitor your progress. If you have any questions, please contact me through our clinic contact page.
Danielle Schmiemann, BScKin, RAcBOOK ONLINE
- 1. Stanos S, Mogilevsky M, Rader L, McLean J, Baum A. Chapter 73: Physical medicine approaches to pain medicine. In: Smith H, Current Therapy in Pain. W.B. Saunders; 2009: 527-540.
- 2. Wong WY, Wong MS. Smart garment for trunk posture monitoring: A preliminary study. Scoliosis. 2008;3(7).
- 3. Singla D, Veqar, Z. Association between forward head, rounded shoulders and increased thoracic kyphosis: a review of the literature. J. Chiropr. Med. 2017;16:220-229.
- 4. Jung SI, Lee NK, Kang KW, Do YL. The effect of smartphone usage time on posture and respiratory function. J. Phys. Ther. Sci. 2016;28:186-189.