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Massage Therapy

Postural Imbalances
February 2009

In this issue...

Postural Imbalances

Muscles Effected By Posture

Sleeping Patterns and Posture

Stretches for Back Discomfort

Postural Imbalances

Our posture is defined by the way we hold ourselves upright. It is the position we intentionally or habitually assume. Our posture is what determines the way we stand, sit, walk and present ourselves.

The foundation for a good posture is maintaining a neutral spine. Over time, bad habits such as rounding of the shoulders and forward head carriage can actually cause \\\'memory loss\\\' to certain important postural muscles that are needed to hold us upright.

Muscle imbalances due to improper posture can lead to headaches, back pain, trigger points, and even joint degeneration.

By strengthening and stretching our postural muscles we can strive toward a strong core to help support our spine and pelvis. Being constantly aware of your posture will help you bring a new balance to your body and ease unwanted muscle tension.

Let a professional at Be. Massage help you get started!

Muscles Effected By Posture

We have two types of muscle group that help us retain a neutral spine. They are called Tonic and Phasic muscles.

Muscles that tend to tighten and shorten, which need to be stretched are our tonic muscles:

  • Pectoralis Major and Minor
  • Upper Trapezius
  • Levator Scapulae
  • SCM
  • Iliopsoas
  • Rectus Femoris (quads)
  • TFL (hip flexors)
  • Erector Spinae
  • Quadratus Lumborum
  • Flexibility in the above muscles will greatly decrease the chance of further injury.

    Muscles that tend to weaken and lengthen, which need to be strengthened are our phasic muscles:

  • Lower and Middle Trapezius
  • Serratus Anterior
  • Rhomboid Major and minor
  • Adbominal and Gluteal Muscles
  • Massage therapy and postural imbalances go hand in hand. Muscles that are shortened as well as those that tend to be weakened can develop trigger points, myofascial restrictions and benefit from manual manipulations.

    If you sit at a desk, or stand on your feet all day, massage therapy can help with your postural imbalances be relieving the associated discomfort.

    Sleeping Patterns and Posture

    Sleeping positions and the habits we have while we sleep can shape the way in which we hold our posture during the day.

    Sleeping on the stomach should be avoided. It puts unwanted strain on the neck and can lead to unwanted muscle tension in the cervical spine.

    Side sleepers should try and place a pillow between their legs and have a pillow under their head which allows for a neutral neck. Back sleepers often benefit from a pillow placed under the knees and a firmer mattress for support.

    A firm mattress is generally best for proper back alignment, but personal preference will vary.

    As a regular client to massage therapy, you will notice the use of pillows during the treatment. These are put in place to help with spine alignment.

    If you are sitting at a desk all day, you should also have a proper support for your spine. Frequent rests and stretches are recommended and encouraged.

    Stretches for Back Discomfort

      Pelvic Tilt:

    Purpose-The pelvic tilt strengthens your lower abdominal muscles and stretches your low back.

    Instructions-Start on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. As you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles, pushing your belly button towards the floor and flattening your low back. Hold 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

    Cautions-While doing the pelvic tilt, do not push out your abdominal muscles or raise your low back off the floor. You need to pull your abdominals in towards the floor (it really does help to think about pushing your belly button in towards your back).

      Knee to Chest:

    Purpose-The knee to chest stretch is used to stretch your hip and low back. It should also help relieve pressure on spinal nerves by creating more space for those nerves as they exit the spine.

    Instructions-Start on your back. Gently pull one knee towards your chest, using your hands to hold your leg in the stretch. Hold 10 seconds. You should feel a stretch in your low back and hip. Switch legs and pull your other knee towards your chest, again holding 10 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times with each leg. Bring both legs to your chest, holding 10 seconds and repeating 3-5 times.

      Low trunk Rotation:

    Purpose-By doing the lower trunk rotation, you will work on increasing flexibility in your low back (lumbar spine) and hips, allowing for greater mobility and rotation in the spine.

    Instructions-Start on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. With your knees together, bring them to one side. Your feet should stay on the floor. Hold 3-5 seconds. Contract your abdominal muscles while moving your legs to the opposite side, again holding for 3-5 seconds. Repeat 5-10 times on each side.

    *The above stretches should be performed pain free. Discontinue if discomfort is experienced.


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