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Patients will sometimes ask if they can correct their posture. If we measured or took pictures of a persons posture before and after treatment we would often see little to no physical change. For example, someone may show you an x-ray of a crooked back and claim they can straighten the spine. This would be nearly impossible to accomplish and I have never seen any science supporting such claims. In my experience and in discussions with colleagues the general opinion is that dramatic postural change it is extremely challenging.
I do think however that postural management is an important component to treatment and in combination with other therapeutic tools can be very effective.....
What causes poor posture?
Postural issues can arise from work related activities, repetitive motions, sports, its just the way you were built or a combination of things. Postural imbalances can take years to develop so be patient when trying to improve posture as it will take time and commitment.
How should we view posture?
As a Chiropractic practitioner I can find postural imbalances on anybody. In fact, other doctors and therapists I know are always observing posture and mechanics of people everywhere they travel. It appears to be a habit of the job. My point is that no person has perfect posture and trying to achieve such a goal is unrealistic.
How do we improve posture?
After careful observation and examination the doctor or therapist would determine the areas needing improvement. Based on the patients symptoms a specific postural management plan would be worked into a more comprehensive treatment plan. Your postural part of treatment may include postural exercises, stretching, ergonomics or manual therapies.
How do we measure improvement?
Remember postural improvement (mechanics) may not be easily visible. It's best to gauge treatment to the patients symptoms instead of trying to measure physical changes. For example, if a patient was compliant with treatment and was able improve posture by a few percent this could be the difference in improving their feeling of health.
I prefer to use the term of improving posture over correcting posture as I think the term correcting can be misleading. A reasonable and balanced treatment plan is where you start. X-rays are rarely needed for the evaluation of posture unless a serious condition is suspected. Finally the goal is to effect change in soft tissues (muscle, connective tissues) and mechanics (bone restrictions and improved movement) improving the overall function and an improved feeling of health.
Dr. Robert Muir B.Sc, DC
Healthview Therapy Centre