If you are experiencing pain caused by poor posture, you may be wondering if acupuncture for posture can alleviate the pain and improve your posture. Unfortunately, acupuncture cannot improve your posture for you. However, there is some evidence suggesting that acupuncture may be able to treat your pain.
It is not clear exactly how acupuncture is able to produce these results. Years ago, the general consensus was that any pain reduction during or after acupuncture treatment were purely the result of the placebo effect. However, since the 2012 study conducted by Vickers et al (link above), it is believed that “the total effects of acupuncture, as experienced by patients in clinical practice, are clinically relevant.”
So if you are considering seeing an acupuncturist to deal with chronic pain caused by poor posture, then you may be able to get the relief you seek. However, you will still need to learn how to position your body in a healthy way in your day-to-day life. You should also learn some exercises to help restore proper alignment of your spine to have great posture.
What is Good Posture?
When people think of good posture, they imagine standing up straight in a very rigid way. Is that what good posture is? Not exactly, because there are some key things to keep in mind. To truly have good posture while standing or sitting, you must have:
- Chin tucked in, parallel to floor.
- Shoulders tucked in (hike your shoulders up, then pull them back, then lower them). This should also puff your chest out, making you appear more confident.
- Spine in a neutral position. Do not try to flex, arch, or otherwise exaggerate the natural curvature of your spine.
- Abdominal muscles braced.
- Knees even and pointed forward.
- Hips even (do not lean to one side).
- Body weight evenly distributed to both feet.
There is not much difference when you are seated. Keep the chin and shoulders tucked in. Make sure your shoulders, knees, and hips or at even heights. The feet and knees should be pointed forward.
Good Posture While Lifting
It is important to know how to maintain good posture when performing daily activities, such as lifting things. As a general rule of thumb, if something has an awkward shape and is heavy, you should not be lifting it by yourself. Get a friend, family member, or trolley to help if you are moving heavy objects.
To lift something from the ground, bend at your knees to get lower and keep your back straight. Do not bend your back! Bending at your knees and then straightening your legs to stand up utilizes your leg muscles instead of your back, which is a lot safer.
When carrying the object, keep it close to your body and hold it with bent arms. This utilizes your arm muscles to support the weight, and not your back and shoulder muscles. Lifting anything higher than your waist can increase the chances of injury.
Good Posture While Lying Down
You need to have good posture even when lying down. You should lie down in such a way that maintains the natural curves in your back. When lying on your back, you should be using a head pillow at the minimum. You can also elevate your knees by placing a pillow underneath to keep your spine in a neutral position and prevent lower back pain.
When lying on the side, sleeping in the fetal relieves stress on your back. You can also keep a pillow wedged between your knees to keep your spine in alignment and relieve lower back pain.
Why Does Posture Matter?
“Stop slouching!” or “Stand up straight!” You may have heard your mother utter these words as you were growing up. It’s good advice. Posture is crucial to maintaining balance so that you can move without toppling over. It also helps you keep the correct form when you are performing exercises, resulting in more gains and less injuries.
Having good balance makes it easier for you to perform basically any sport or physical activity. Whether it be golf, tennis, dancing, running, skiing, or lifting furniture, you can benefit from excellent posture. Even simple tasks like standing up from sitting or going up and down the stairs requires a certain level of balance. Otherwise, you would fall down as soon as you tried standing up.
These are some of the reasons why you would want good posture. But what happens when you have bad posture?
The Effects of Poor Posture
If the benefits of good posture don’t convince you to improve your posture, then surely you will be convinced after reading about what bad posture can cause.
People who sit in front of a computer, slouched over, for many hours each day often suffer from neck and back pain. Whether for work or for play, will use the computer and at some point start slouching. If you are reading this article, you are probably in front of a computer, slouched over, right this moment!
The computer is not the only place where poor posture is developed. You can be slouched over even while standing, while looking down at your phone or texting. As beneficial as technology is, it has contributed to the degradation of posture in millions of Americans.
In addition to muscle and joint pain, poor posture can also cause headaches, constipation, and difficulty breathing, among other things.
Causes of Poor Posture
Not all people have poor posture because of bad habits when sitting or standing. Sometimes, physical reasons can make it difficult for someone to maintain an upright posture.
Inflexible muscles can lower one’s range of motion (how far their joint can move around). You may have shortened or tight hip muscles that pull your upper body forward and affect your posture. Those with tight chest muscles can pull their shoulders inward, resulting in kyphosis.
Weak core muscles can affect your posture. The core muscles, which include muscles in your back, side, buttocks, and pelvis, surround the spine and helps keep it upright. Together, they form the central link between your upper and lower body. Weak core muscles struggle to keep the spine straight, and can result in slumping, which shifts your body forward and affects balance.
We mentioned that acupuncture will not fix your posture, but a few simple exercises will. Balance-focused workouts can improve posture and balance problems by stretching tight muscles and improving strength where it counts.
Examining your posture in the mirror before, during, and after these exercises can let you see if your posture is improving and determine the effectiveness of the exercises. Improving your flexibility and core strength will improve your posture in just a few weeks.
Core Strengthening Exercises for Posture
This exercise strengthens your buttocks and thighs by using your glutes to lift your hips. First, lie on your back. Bend your knees and keep your feet firmly planted on the floor, with a small space between them. Keep your arms to your sides, palms down, to support yourself. Now, tighten your glutes (butt) and core and raise your hips as high as you can go. Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds.
Planks are not only great at training your core, but it involves your whole body as well. You can expect your shoulders, back, arms, and legs to get toned as well. To begin, start on all fours with your hands placed beneath your shoulders and knees under your hips.
Next, straighten your legs out behind you while maintaining a hip-width distance between your feet. Brace your core by flexing. Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds. If this is too difficult to start out, then try doing them with your knees on the floor.
When you think about ab training exercises, the crunch is probably one of the first exercises to come to mind. Simply raising your upper body up from the ground will activate your core muscles. People who have low back pain, such as sciatica, should do crunches very carefully.
First, lie down on your back with bent knees, similar to the starting position of the bridge. You can keep your arms to your side, or you can cross them across your chest. Tighten your core muscles while simultaneously relaxing your shoulders and neck muscles.
Keeping your chin tucked in, begin lifting your upper back by squeezing your core. Keep your lower body firmly planted on the floor. Hold the position at the top for one second and flex hard. Then slowly return to the starting position. Do this for 8 to 12 repetitions.
Using Acupuncture for Posture – The Bottom Line
Using acupuncture for posture pain would only deal with the symptoms. However, the underlying issue is still your poor posture, which must be corrected by knowing how to sit, stand, and lie down properly.
You should also strive to change your work environment. For example, if your chair does not allow you to sit with your back straight, then you may need to find a different chair. Or if your computer screen is placed too low, you will have to tilt your head downwards to look at it, causing neck strain. Keep your computer monitor at eye level to prevent this.
You can also search up some more posture training exercises to help strengthen your core muscles. This can help you maintain your posture for longer if you have the muscular endurance to hold good posture until you can take a break.
It is important to think of good posture as our “default” position. When you make it your new normal, you can avoid the pitfalls of poor posture such as excessive wear and tear, and chronic neck and back pain. Many neck, shoulder, and back injuries are the result of poor posture, and devoting time and energy to learning about posture can save you from years of pain.