Instep Dance Magazine Articles
Reprints of monthly column as first appearing in Instep Dance Magazine.
Back Pain - Part 2: Poor Posture
By Rick Allen, DC
"Better health leads to better dancing."
Let's continue with a brief presentation of the causes of and solutions for back pain. This is a "chicken or egg" situation. A healthy back is necessary for good dancing and dancing is one exercise that helps keep your back healthy.
Well, did you try the experiment that I suggested last month of mimicking forward head posture? Did you really get a feel for the problem? Now, do you understand why your mother, father, and dance teacher have all probably harped at you to "standing up straight?"Here are a few of the consequences of poor posture:
- Tight, imbalanced muscles in the back and neck
- Tension headaches
- Development of a "dowager's hump" in the upper back
- Pain in the mid-back
- Possible subluxation of ribs, with pain both locally and referred to the shoulder and arm
- Pain in the low-back
- Bony spurs develop
- Weakened intervertebral discs that are more likely to herniate
- Diminished breathing
- Poor nerve function to muscles and organs, confirmed by Alf Breig, MD
- According to Dr. Michael Gazdar, DC, CCSP, even the heart may be adversely affected!
- This leads to overall poor health.
Dr. Gazdar elaborates further:"If poor posture is not corrected, the nerves which are under stress as they exit the spine will eventually scar over and begin to lose their function. Each nerve has its own tiny blood supply system. The health of the nerve is dependent on the circulation of the blood to keep it oxygenated and fed with nutrients and free of waste products. One result of stretching due to bad posture is that blood vessels become damaged and cannot deliver the proper amount of blood. Eventually the nerve cells die or become dysfunctional."
Improving your posture is not an easy, one-step mind-over-matter process. Once you have gotten used to your poor posture, you can't just tell yourself to stand up straight. You will need help. Here are a few suggestions:
- Have a spinal examination and treatment by a Doctor of Chiropractic, especially one who emphasizes spinal correction. One technique that I personally use and recommend is Chiropractic Biophysics, developed by Don Harrison, DC, PhD.
- Combine chiropractic correction with myofascial release and massage of muscles and connective tissue by a massage therapist.
- Also incorporate learning new posture and movement patterns. A professional trained in the Alexander Technique or Ashton Patterning can help.
- Start a regular stretching and/or yoga class. Do this on your own each day, too.
- Check your work habits and overall lifestyle for poor postural patterns, such as slumping while reading or using a computer. Make the necessary changes.
- Be sure to take breaks every 15 minutes when working at the computer. Get your eyes off the screen and stretch. I have a short video on stretching to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome developed by Alta Rehab Institute in Sweden that helps overall posture as well. The suggested stretches only take a minute or two. (I just did them now, while typing this article - They really helped!)
- Ask you dance teacher for suggestions when dancing. They will improve your dancing and carry over into everyday life.
While correcting posture may require investment of both time and money, the results are well worth it. Re-read the list of the consequences of poor posture. I would like to invite you over to my clinic to watch a half-hour video of good and bad posture on the beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida by Paul St. John, LMT. It is a real eye-opener. Feel free to call if you would like to watch it at my clinic.
Other articles directly about posture are:
- December 1998: Psoas - Hidden Influence on Posture
- September 1997: Better Posture…Better Health…Better Dancing
- June 1996: The Graceful Illusion.
In summary, I strongly recommend that you take the steps necessary to make a change for better posture, better health and better dancing!
Next article: Let's continue with more details on the subject of back pain.
PS: The offer still stands: If you would like a copy of Michael Gazdar's book, Taking Your Back to the Future, stop by my office. If you promise to read it, I'll give it to you for free!Error processing SSI file
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