People often ask, is this a problem with my muscles or my joints? Sometimes that is a simple discussion if you have suffered a direct injury but postural loading can be more involved. The body is a collaborative organism – what affects one part has a knock-on effect. If we sprain an ankle, our body automatically shifts weight to the other side, which can result in overloading of the uninjured side. Our brain is set-up to protect the body and also to operate in known, practised, automatic patterns.
Muscles shorten to develop tension. For a movement to happen the shortening muscle(s) changes the angles of the joint but it also requires the muscle(s) on the other side of the joint to have sufficient length and relaxation to allow the movement to occur precisely and economically. There is an optimal length for a muscle to be best able to produce an action and maintain joint stability to avoid risk of injury. Therefore exercise for mobility and stability can help to maintain good posture.
It is harder for tight muscles to maintain a joint in its neutral position and for them to carry the joint through its full range of movement. When a joint does not go through its full range of motion it becomes stiffer and there is more resistance to the motion – it takes more muscle power to change the joint angles – resulting in a loss of symmetry and economy of movement. So tight muscles affect joints and stiff joints affect muscles.
Changing position requires coordinated timing and recruitment of muscles involved in the task. Training can improve the efficiency of this process. Good posture is important during lifting and manual handling. The chest is up, feet shoulder width apart with equal body weight, head centred over the shoulders, the weight to be lifted is close to your base of support. Deviation from this loads joints and muscles outside their optimal performance range and increases risk of injury.
Pay a visit to one of our physiotherapists for more advice on how to improve your posture, book an appointment online or call us at 9489 7744.