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posted on: 2/27/2019 1:16:42 PM
Back Pain: Who’s to Blame?
Alex Maag, PT, DPT
Today, let’s discuss back pain and who is to blame. Hmm, that is an interesting question, isn’t it? Back pain is multifactorial. Back pain may be related to any number of issues, including lifestyle, injury, congenital conditions, pregnancy, failed surgery, psychological factors, “wear and tear” over time and so on. Back pain may also be caused by a combination of these factors. The question becomes, what can I do, as a physical therapist, to offer the most help to my patient with back pain? The answer is simple; teach my patients how to create lifestyle changes as they relate to posture and potential asymmetries.
So, how are you sitting right now? Are you aware? Are you slumped to one side or the other? Now, let’s take it a step further. Think about your favorite chair or your favorite position on the couch. Do you sit in the same position every time you sit there? Chances are you do. Next think about how you sleep. Do you sleep in the same position every night? Do you have a “sweet spot?” Do you “own” one side of the bed, and does your partner always have the other? Let’s continue to think about your other daily routines. How about your work tasks, are they habitually the same? Do you always sit at your desk in the same position? Do you stand and turn all day to one side or the other on a production line? I could apply these scenarios to almost everything you do in life. Am I oversimplifying the condition, or am I on to something?
Having good posture means you respect and own both sides of your body and are able to get into any position comfortably without having to think about it. Good posture is subconscious, but bad posture is subconscious as well. As a society, we tend to subconsciously get into bad postures and then stay there. We are creatures of habit. Habits make us feel safe. Postural habits lead to poor posture and asymmetries which may ultimately cause back pain.
When you perform these habitual repetitive positions over and over, every day for years on end, you are creating postural asymmetries. Whether you know it or not and whether you like it or not, you are. However, this is where a professionally trained physical therapist will come into play. The team at Lima Memorial’s Wellness Center assesses and analyzes posture and postural asymmetries every day, and, perhaps most importantly, strives to help our patients correct these issues.
Utilizing the Postural Restoration Institute® approach to treating human pathology, therapists at the Wellness Center are able to investigate and analyze in depth our patient’s postural issues and asymmetries. Once it has been established where the postural deficits and asymmetries lie, an individualized treatment program is established for the patient, tailored specifically to their postural deficits or asymmetries. Treatment programs are side specific, meaning one side of the body may need to activate or facilitate certain muscles while suppressing or inhibiting those same muscles on the other side.
Once posture is improved and postural symmetry is attained, our team is able to make sure patients can move into and out of any postural position without pain or dysfunction. What’s more, when an individual begins to have normal and symmetrical posture, their back pain begins to reduce. Education about the postural changes that have been attained is essential to maintaining restored symmetrical posture. Therapists will spend a lot of time educating their patients about their personal do’s and don’ts in regards to their posture.
From a physical therapy perspective, lifestyle habits as they relate to posture and potential asymmetries are key to decreasing and even eliminating back pain. If you are experiencing back pain and feel you may have poor posture or poor postural habits, I assure you we can help!
- Alex Maag, PT, DPT
Alex is a doctor of physical therapy and is the only Postural Restoration Certified Physical Therapist in the State of Ohio. For more information about improving your back pain with Postural Restoration or any of the many services available at the Lima Memorial Wellness Center, call 419-226-5075.