Pain is a telltale sign of poor posture

Uncover cause to correct problem

Pain could be a sign that a person has had poor posture for a long time. It often occurs after the body has adapted as far as it can to poor posture, says Scott Bautch, DC, past president of the Occupational Health Council for the Arlington, VA-based American Chiropractic Association (ACA) and a practicing chiropractor in Wausau, WI.

That is why it is important for massage therapists, chiropractors, and other practitioners to try to determine what caused the pain, not simply treat it. For example, if a baseball pitcher has pain in the shoulder, it is important to find out how he throws, says Bautch.

"Treating the pain is certainly important, but the lifestyle change is what keeps [people] healthy," says Bautch.

Pain may be traced to poor posture at the computer and signal the need to analyze the workstation and take frequent micro-breaks.

Pain also might be traced to poor sleep posture, or perhaps a woman has been carrying a purse on one shoulder, changing her gait, posture, and structure of the spine.

Even normal trauma should not cause great amounts of pain. When people step off a curb wrong and as a result develop pain in their spine, it probably is because years of poor posture has developed stiffness or lack of flexibility, says Bautch.

When people sleep with a different pillow at a hotel and their neck gets stiff or they travel in a car for a period of time and their body aches, they often blame it on age, but the cause is aging joints. Joints age faster when posture is poor, says Bautch.

The joints can once again become stable, but it takes work, he says. It usually is a combination of exercise and lifestyle change.