Movement, Pain Science, posture, and more!
At the Movement Corner, Dr. Jim Heafner PT, DPT, OCS focuses on integrating the complex neuroscience of pain with the biomechanics of movement. In other words, a modern approach to the mind body connection.
Why The Focus on The Connection between Pain and Movement?
Surprisingly, numerous studies demonstrate a very weak or even nonexistent relationship between posture and pain. In other words, biomechanical faults don’t often have clinical significance in regard to pain. These unsupported ideas are magnified through vivid anatomical imagery. Each human body has differences in skeletal structure, which can alter what their “normal” posture looks like. A resting posture is simply a single data point in time, and doesn’t demonstrate the human body’s true capacity to move, bend, twist, produce force or absorb load. Experts generally agree that “your next posture is your best posture,” so keep in mind that regular breaks are important, along with engaging in regular movement.
For this reason, the movement corner is dedicated to improving the relationship between these two fundamentally human elements!
Pain, while unpleasant, is an essential part of life. It’s a personalized experience that’s heavily dictated by an individual's environment, context and belief system. With a primary purpose of protection and survival, pain can appear in all shapes and sizes. Some of these pain experiences appear to make sense, while others can leave us perplexed. Pain can prevent you from going for a jog if you sprain your knee. It can teach you that placing your hand on a hot stove is a bad idea. Pain can let you know to seek treatment if you have an infection or broken bone. Pain can also prevent you from getting out of bed if you dread your job or if you’ve recently lost a loved one. Additionally, pain can trigger you to change your lifestyle if you’ve recently had a heart attack. Pain can drive emotion and physical activity just as much as emotion and physical activity can drive pain. There’s a constant interplay between all aspects of the human body and pain impacts each person in a unique manner that’s one hundred percent dependent upon context and individual factors.
Posture is defined as “the position or bearing of the body whether characteristic or assumed for a special purpose.” In other words, it is the way someone positions their body for various activities. Those activities can include anything from sitting in a car to cleaning underneath your kitchen sink. One’s posture is the body’s position during any and all tasks. It is constantly changing and adapting to meet your current environment. When you confine your posture to a limited space, such as a car, there is minimal movement and adaptation available. Sore, achy, and fatigued muscles are a common result.
Traditionally held beliefs attempt to link “poor posture” or “bad movement” to one’s pain. However, when discussing the literature surrounding movement and tissue damage, it is evident that “good posture” appears to be mostly irrelevant to pain. In other words, the research does not support either “good” or “bad” posture. In Jim’s car example above, he was quite sore and achy despite sitting in what he understood to be “perfect posture.” Simply tucking his chin or using a small support in his low back would not have alleviated his aching muscles.