Postural Balancing helps with regaining a good posture and body alignment. Improving your posture prevents pain and injury that can develop from less than optimal holding patterns in the body. Having a good posture has also great side-effects as others will perceive you as being more attractive and having more self-esteem. Whilst a better posture won’t be achieved in just one session and requires conscious effort, it’s worth it for the long-term benefits.

Imaging being pain free and active into old age, still running around with the grandkids and pursuing your favourite activities. I believe this is possible if we treat our bodies well. Maintaining a good postural alignment is one of the elements under the ‘treating the body well’ category. This does not mean you should always have a straight back and walk around like a soldier during a parade. Being told to ‘stand up straight’ is not the best advice when it comes to having a good posture. Good postural alignment is situation-depended, which means that sometimes it’s natural and good to round your back (just not all the time) and it means to be conscious of the basic bio-mechanical principles of your body.

After sitting in front of the computer in the one hunched over position for hours on end your body will likely give you some messages such as stiffness and pain. If you choose to ignore it, these signals will become more frequent and eventually you may end up with chronic changes to your muscular-skeletal system. You may get headaches on a regular basis, neck and shoulder pain, low back pain and so on. Over time muscles shorten, lengthen and weaken, which can produce excess strain on joints, spine and tendons. Combine this scenario with the chronic stress of modern life and it’s no wonder that backpain was the second leading cause of disease burden in Australia in 2015 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020).

What is postural balancing?

This is a process that helps the body in its alignment by allowing tight muscles to release and slack muscles to work correctly. Doing this in the right spots, your body naturally becomes more balanced, feels more supported and relaxed. Each person is different and requires an individual protocol. The basis for this balancing work is a postural assessment.

A thorough standing (or weight-bearing) initial assessment gives the clues where the main issues come from. Not only will I look at your body from various angles, take notes and identify key areas, I will also ask many questions like a detective to get as many hints from you as possible. It’s a good idea to be as open to this process as possible as it gives more chances to discover where the discomfort is coming from.

This is followed by a non-weight-bearing assessment and corrective moves on certain muscles of your body. This part is obviously only possible in person. However, I also offer online consultations where certain movements replace this step.

The third and crucial step is mostly up to you. Whilst I give recommendations on exercises and stretches that I would like you to do, you need to perform them. This does require awareness of your own body and your habitual holding and movement patterns (I’ll help you with that) and consistent effort by doing the exercises and stretches. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to change body holding and movement patterns and I offer advice, accountability and ongoing treatments. However, you need to commit to putting the effort into changing your own postural habits.

Good posture is rare as I had to find out by screening over 100 undergraduate students for one of my studies in my research into the Perception of Posture (currently working on my PhD at Macquarie University, Sydney). Only 13 percent of the participants (average age was 21 years) had a naturally good posture. What these young people didn’t realise are the negative effects that poor posture can have over time on their bodies. Although, you might think, slouching over your mobile phone only gives you neck pain, poor postural alignment can contribute to problems from head to toe.

Headaches

Sporting the classic head-forward position not only looks unattractive, it also creates strain and pressure in the neck, jaw and muscles on your head. This can irritate nerves and lead to headaches.

Knee, hip and foot pain

Muscular imbalances, tightness or weakness combined with poor mobility and flexibility can lead to poor alignment of hips, knees and feet. Over time people can experience various pains in the hips and knees (for example, hip impingement or patellofemoral pain). Poor posture can also result in ankle (do you tend to ‘roll’ your ankle?) and foot problems with fallen arches, pronating or plantar fasciitis.

Tingling or pain in wrists and hands

Tightness across the front of the shoulder and upper chest (again from poor postural holding patterns) can irritate the bundle of nerves and blood vessels (brachial plexus) that pass through the area between the clavicle and first rib. This can result in tingling and pain in the wrists and hands. These symptoms are often associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. However, it’s important to rule out the upper thoracic outlet syndrome before taking drastic steps such as carpal tunnel surgery.

Shoulder pain

Most of our daily activities require us to have our arms in front of us. This contributes to a rounded upper back and rounded shoulders, which in turn result in muscle tightness, lengthening and weakening of muscles that should hold us upright and protect the mobility of the shoulder joint. Instead, in bad cases, tendons can get caught in the wrong spots and become impinged or even tear.

Jaw pain

Many people are so stressed and tight due to their personal circumstances and their poor postural holding patterns that they cannot relax at night. They often press their teeth together or grind their teeth during sleep. Together with a head-forward posture the muscles in your jaw (around the temporomandibular joint or TMJ) tighten and become overworked. Some people get headaches, neck pain, jaw pain or other symptoms such as teeth damage, popping in their jaw and difficulty opening their mouth.

Back and neck pain

Over 4 million Australians have backpain on a regular basis. Some of these complaint stem from injuries, but a large percentage ensues from the so called ‘non-specific’ pain. This ‘non-specific’ pain presents itself as pain, discomfort, tightness or stiffness in the back and neck. It can be debilitating and frustrating as there is no clear diagnosis and no easy solution.

Breathing problems and Lack of Energy

When we sit slouched forward for prolonged periods of time, we restrict our natural breathing capacities by compressing our main breathing muscle, the diaphragm. Add stress to the mix, and we get a vicious cycle. We tend to use muscles in the upper chest more for breathing (and don’t expand the diaphragm as much). The muscles in the upper chest are only meant for breathing in stressful situations (such as running away from the lion), when we need to breathe quickly and shallowly not for habitual breathing. But if we do this due to poor posture and it becomes a habit, we reduce our lung capacity, leading to fatigue and lack of energy, which can affect your overall quality of life.

Digestive problems

Just like slouched posture affects the diaphragm and your breathing, it can also impair digestive function. Most of the other vital organs in our abdominal cavity are involved in the digestive process. Anyone who ate too much at a function and had to inconspicuously open the top button of their trousers or skirt, knows that a little less restriction and a little more room can do wonders for your comfort levels during digestion. Considering this experience, you may appreciate how much better you could get your digestive system to work with a good posture.

Improving your postural holding and moving patterns can help you prevent and in most cases reverse many of these conditions. It’s well worth the effort.

8 Benefits of Posture Balancing

  1. Helps with function of muscles and joints
  2. Decreases discomfort and pain
  3. Increases ease of movement
  4. Improves circulation
  5. Calms the nervous system
  6. Improves general wellbeing
  7. Helps to improve your posture
  8. Gives you a bonus benefit: Others think you are more attractive 😉