A client comes in complaining of low back pain. We are having the discussion as we stand, and I watch as her hips thrust forward a little bit, with her shoulders seemingly behind her body. We do things with her on her back, supported with the floor. She stands back up and I ask her to walk. I watch as her feet move ahead of her body, torso lagging behind.
This weekend, I watched the documentary, “The First Monday in May.” It highlights clothing designers and their art. It features footage of the models that wear the clothing. I was struck by the cat walk posture- hips thrust forward, torso behind the body, neck thrust forward to maintain balance. Even the mannequins were oriented in a similar posture.
Posture is not an indicator of pain.* However, when pain is present and posture is making someone fight gravity to stay upright, sometimes changing a person’s relationship to gravity can make things feel a little bit better. If I ask the client above to lean forward a little bit while walking, her back pain will often disappear. If I do the same while the is standing (once I convince her she isn’t slouching), she will feel a little more connected to the ground and a bit more work in her abdominal region.
We are mimics when it comes to movement. Children mimic their parents, teenagers mimic whatever pop cultural phenomena is popular at that moment. As adults, movement becomes exercise, and posture becomes habitual unless we consistently challenge ourselves in a variety of ways.
*A good blog on this topic: http://www.bettermovement.org/blog/2014/does-bad-posture-cause-back-pain