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The importance of posture

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Moose, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. Moose

    Moose Peer Supporter

    Hi all, I posted about TMS on my facebook yesterday. I decided I don't care if people think I'm crazy, because it might help someone else with pain to get better. My friends have been really supportive and one said he was going to check out the TMS wiki for a nerve problem he'd been having - yay! However, one of my friends posted something about the importance of posture and how things like the Alexander technique can help with this.

    I was wondering what you all though about posture - I think it's something of a red herring, as it takes attention back to the physical. I also read somewhere that forcing your body to tense and maintain 'good' posture can result in strains and actually do more harm than good. Our bodies are remarkably adaptive, and if you sit at the computer all day long then your body will adapt to that. Trying to arbitrarily decide to 'sit up straighter' can't really be doing anyone any good, can it? In fact, it could undo some of the adaptation we have already acquired. As far as I can understand it, our bodies thrive on movement, and the best thing for everyone (particularly those with sendentary jobs) is to just move as much as possible - i.e. take regular exercise, do mobilisation exercises at work, that sort of thing (our nerves cry out for stimulation, and if we don't provide it through movement then they begin to amplify any tiny signal that's there - which can result in pain!).

    Static stretching is also something that's overrated. I think I read about this on www.saveyourself.ca Basically, when you stretch, you're not increasing the flexibility of your muscles, but retraining your nervous system to tolerate more extension in the muscles - it's your nervous system that decides how far it's going to allow your muscles to extend. So stretching might not actually benefit you very much and could be damaging (stretching before exercise has been shown to have no preventative effect on injury, for example).

    I find it interesting how people just accept all this conventional 'wisdom' without question :p
    Gigalos likes this.
  2. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Good for you Moose, for 'coming out' on FB. Hopefully it will get people thinking and if they have symptoms now or in the future your FB friends will know where to come for information and support.
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I do some back and leg exercises in bed, and hope it helps make me more flexible.
    But the humorist Robert Benchley said "When I feel like exercising, I lie down until the feeling goes away."
    Gigalos likes this.
  4. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    When my RSI was at its worst I focused pretty much all of my energy on having the perfect posture. No matter how perfect my posture was, my symptoms continued to persist. I thought my having great posture I would reduce my symptoms, but I now understand that worrying about it was what was distracting me from my emotions. I now have terrible posture and continue to be pain free.
    Maz and ShimmsK like this.
  5. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have the least symptoms when I don't analyse my posture... so true. On another note, posture is connected to your emotions. I wrote a thing on hyperkyphosis (thoracal) at tmshelp last week. One thing doctors prescribe to children with hyperkyphosis is training of the back muscles. My theory is that this increased strength doesn't do that much for the posture, it's the positive effects on the mind of becoming physically stronger and being more active. When you feel better, your posture gets better.
    savtala likes this.
  6. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Everyone.
    I've been worrying about my posture and your postings reinforce what I've decided... forget it.

    I have a little "old man" bent forward look, but hey, who cares? My dog doesn't. Friends and family don't care.
    I don't hurt if I try to stand like I did when I was twenty, but who cares? I'm happy.

    I just re-read Ozanich's chapter One about TMS and my childhood is all there. Insecurity (divorces and having
    four fathers) and 1930s Great Depression financial stresses. My closest nearby friends divorced two years ago and
    I've journaled to learn my back pain began then. I was like part of their family. Divorce has such a ripple effect.
    I feel good because my three wonderful dogs (one at time, for 40 years), never divorced me, nor did I divorce them.
    Nor did my sister or nieces and nephews, or my best friends divorce me. I'm part of the Catholic Family, the TMSWiki Family,
    and the Family of God.
    Lizzy and ShimmsK like this.
  7. NolaGal

    NolaGal Peer Supporter

    Having trained as a dancer for many years, I will never stop thinking about my physical body, and that's just the way it is! The difference now (since learning about TMS) is that I don't put pressure on myself to be in the "right" posture all the time, and I don't think of my back and joints as being "fragile" like modern medicine tends to tell us. I figure out what feels good for me in each situation. What sitting posture feels best to me right now? For example, I was always taught (in dance, yoga, etc.) to "tuck the tailbone under". Well, I recently learned that that's just not how most of us are built, and so I tried a suggestion to sit as if I had a tail coming out from my tailbone and I wanted my tail to fall behind me when I was sitting. Not over-arching the lower back, but letting that slight curve at the base of the spine just "do its thing". I can sit for much longer when I don't "sit on my tail". This may not work for everyone, but I liked it and continue to use it. I also swing my hips a little more than I used to as I walk, and I like that better, too. I don't think there's anything wrong with each of us trying to find the best posture for ourselves in various positions. I don't think doing anything physical goes against the TMS program unless we're doing it for pain relief instead of for overall benefit.

    I know I've mentioned Feldenkrais Method and Hanna Somatics several times on the forums, but they've really helped me immeasurably in the last few months. Both modalities are designed to reinforce our awareness of our mind/muscle connection (similar to Alexander Technique) and doing the very gentle movements daily really helped me become more aware of how I was using my body throughout the day, and I quickly came to the conclusion that my MIND was causing me to tense up at certain stressful times. The few months since discovering this have made a difference in my shoulder/right side pain because I noticed myself tensing up (and making my pain worse) and I was frequently able to relax and avoid some of the pain. I had been asking myself for several weeks "why is my subconscious mind causing me to do this to myself?" and then I read online about Dr. Sarno. After reading "The Mindbody Prescription" a couple of weeks ago and working on journaling and talking to my husband about some difficult memories, I'm very happy to say that I have a 90 - 99% reduction in the pain that I thought was RSI. I can use my right arm and hand like I haven't been able to in years, and I'm so very grateful.

    Even with the pain almost completely gone, I still feel my best on the days that I exercise. I still do my Somatics routine daily, too. I'm not going to stop doing them anymore than I would stop journaling, even if I never felt another twinge of pain. I consider these things maintenance for my whole body and mind. True, I think our bodies are more resilient than many of us were taught to believe, but I want to honor that, not abuse it.
    IrishSceptic, savtala and plum like this.
  8. NolaGal

    NolaGal Peer Supporter

    Oh, and I TOTALLY agree about moving around a lot. I think we were designed to move and that's why it usually feels so good to exercise!
  9. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Moose, I think the emphasis on posture is the triumph of aesthetics over feeling. Like NolaGal I danced for a time and the discipline grants you a rare insight. I thank the gods my style was middle eastern and that I was, for the most part, spared the brutaility of a mirrored dance studio. I am indebted to my first teacher for the way she made us exaggerate our lower body moves by thrusting our bums out and dancing with big, wide gestures! Such fun and totally contra to most forms. NolaGal, sometimes I *hear* certain rhythms as I walk down the street and my hips sway as surely as my tail swishes.

    Some years ago, once I'd stopped dancing and had back problems, I saw a chiro who lectured me on posture. I explained my dance background and he decided this was the problem. Honestly! Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    I echo the endorsement of Somatics and Feldenkrais. Unknowingly they both honour and embrace neuroplasticity.

    In the end I feel gigalos is right.
    Once you are emotionally centred, your posture (such as it is) takes care of itself. Otherwise the tail literally wags the dog.
  10. NolaGal

    NolaGal Peer Supporter

    A chiropractor blaming middle eastern dance for back problems? That would be hilarious if it weren't so sad! I'll settle for "absurd".

    I absolutely agree that most emphasis on "good posture" is about aesthetics instead of feeling. No one can know how it feels to be IN your body but you.
    Maz likes this.
  11. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Love it!
    My mum always says why stand if you can sit. Why sit if you can lie down.
  12. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you. Yes, absurd is on the money.
    If anything most (all?) the physical issues I've witnessed in dance had sound psychological underpinnings. The boons of being an older dancer is you have to face such things. I speak less from experience here as I don't dance much any more but my best friend is a dance anthropologist and teacher and we discuss these matters in depth. Fascinating stuff but awfully glad not to be playing it out on the literal stage anymore.
  13. Moose

    Moose Peer Supporter

    NolaGal, that sounds like excellent advice! Thank you
    NolaGal likes this.
  14. KathyBee

    KathyBee Peer Supporter

    I tried a couple different attempts at helping my back with posture exercises.
    They did not seem to help and I felt stiff and unnatural, like I was forcing my body into a position it was not comfortable with. I gave my body a few weeks to get used to the correct posture, but it did not help. In one case I felt worse from the stress of trying to make my back conform to the ideal posture.
    I do notice a mood connection though, especially with the shoulders and upper back. When I am feeling bad I tend to be hunched over. When I am feeling good my back naturally straightens.
    On dancing:
    I used to do a workout video based on hula dance. I did not lose any weight, but the hip swaying movements helped my lower back to feel good – very loose and relaxed. Experimenting with belly dance hip movements had a similar effect for me.
  15. Endless luke

    Endless luke Well known member

    I did Alexander Technique for about ten sessions and while initially I thought it was helpful my progress quickly slowed. I think that you and everyone else here are correct- that it's best to do what Sarno says and focus on the emotional. Your body is strong.
  16. NolaGal

    NolaGal Peer Supporter

    Kathy - I think regular, varied movement helps us become aware of what really feels good to us. I think a lot of people "default" to bad posture, but if they really thought about it they'd realize that hunching over a desk or slouching on the couch for a long time doesn't really feel good during or afterward. Trying to contort yourself into someone else's idea of good posture isn't helpful, either. Nothing wrong with trying out different things, but don't stay with it unless it works for you! Also, keep shaking those hips - it really does wonders ;-)

    Luke - I think the principles of Alexander Technique are sound, but I think the practitioners/teachers usually have you coming back forever as "maintenance". There's also an emphasis on the practitioner "correcting" you as opposed to just guiding you and letting you become aware of the habitual movement patterns you've developed over the years.

    That's why I like Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement lessons and Hanna Somatics (both very similar) You can do them yourself at home (or in a practitioner/class setting) and the mind/body awareness they bring is amazing. That's actually their focus - it isn't "therapy" or "exercise". What I've learned about my own mind/body connection has been life-changing, just as the TMS work is, and finding Dr. Sarno's work was the "missing link" for me. I had already realized that I was "doing this to myself." I just didn't know why until I found the TMS info. Feldenkrais/Somatics and TMS are very much related, at least for me. However, I'm a very physically-oriented person because of my dance background, so that may be why it hit me with such an impact.
    Also, yes - our bodies ARE strong and I'm loving that realization. I've always been active but had "weak knees" back in my dance days, so I've never really done a lot of jumping in my workouts over the years even though I rarely have any pain there. I just started doing some jumping jacks and jump-kick type moves and I feel great!
    Richsimm22 likes this.
  17. Richsimm22

    Richsimm22 Well known member

    The article I think you are referring to is this one.
  18. pspa

    pspa Well known member

  19. Richsimm22

    Richsimm22 Well known member

    I read this one a while back and again recently. Posture is my biggest hurdle in convincing myself about my issues. Beffore I discovered john sarnos work ive been convinced that my problem is my posture. Forward head, rounded shoulders etc.
    ShimmsK likes this.
  20. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I try to walk the way I've seen British and German people walk. Their shoulders are back and
    they keep their arms and hands behind them which forces the shoulders back.

    They often walk with "walking sticks" which were called "staffs" in olden times.
    I'm begun walking with a walking stick and like it,
    and others may like one because it's a great substitute
    for a cane which makes one look and feel older or infirm.

    A walking stick makes me look and feel younger and more robust.

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