Posture is the position of our body in space.
The complex Postural Tonic System, which is part of the Central and Peripheral Nervous System, supervises our posture, allowing us to maintain an upright position, despite the force of gravity, and move around in a coordinated manner in the surrounding environment. For this to happen, the brain must receive a set of information mainly from the eyes, which are the primary receptors, from the feet, skin, muscles and joints, from the ear’s vestibular system, but also from the mouth with the occlusal system, from the viscera, without forgetting the important connection with the psycho-emotional component.
From the integration and processing of all incoming data, commands are generated that quickly govern muscle tone and our posture. This dynamic and automatic process, of entry – central integration – and exit, occurs continuously, even when, for example, we are standing still, because in reality, we are not immobile, but we perform small postural oscillations, of continuous adaptation, against the force of gravity.
The medical discipline that deals with all this is Posturology and is part of Neurophysiology.
Posturology studies the Postural System and its correlation with different health issues or, more simply, examines the relationship of our body with the surrounding external environment, involving fields that study the foot and the musculoskeletal system (orthopedics, physiatry, physiotherapy, motor science), the eye (ophthalmology, orthoptics, optometry), the mouth with the stomatognathic system (dentistry), the ear and the vestibular system (otolaryngology), without forgetting the correlation with the internal and therefore relational environment (psychology).
Thanks to our Postural System we are able to carry out even complex physical and sports activity, while we are planning the best behavioral strategy. When we perform a movement, the group of agonist muscles (which perform the same action together) contracts, while the muscle group of the antagonists (which perform an opposite action) relaxes.
If for different reasons, we find ourselves with an alteration of posture, which limits the complete functionality of a joint or muscle group, it will be responsible for an athletic gesture that is not fully efficient: the antagonist muscles (therefore opposite to the movement we are about to perform) will stay tense and will not be released, with a consequent reduced sports performance and, worst thing, with the chance of suffering injuries easily.
Postural evaluation is recommended for children, teenagers and adults and is particularly useful in the event that the person performs a sports activity.
Following an individualized postural rehabilitation process, in fact, it is possible to achieve a better result in sports performance, an increase in the overall well-being of the person or specific problems and above all a lower chance of suffering tendonitis, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, groin pain and other issues.
There is no ideal or “correct” posture and none of us have a perfectly symmetrical body.
It is normal to be a little twisted because we have a dominant, more toned side, being mostly right-handed or left-handed. However, it is important to recognize a posture that is not completely functional, namely that does not allow us a harmonious and complete movement in space. This can happen because the muscle tone of our body has increased in some areas, making it impossible to perform a physiological, fluid and complete movement. In these cases, we would very easily suffer muscle and joint pain, recurring sports injuries and other health issues.
The evaluation of posture allows the doctor to identify the ways responsible for an inadequate body pattern, with the aim of restoring, as far as possible, the body back into balance and, above all, with the best functionality, not stopping only at the treatment of the symptom (pain, for instance), which is often not effective or determining.
Postural evaluation is effectively combined with treatments and rehabilitation programs performed after a sports injury or back pain or other painful problems of the musculoskeletal system. Alongside the specialist physiatric medical examination, necessary for a classification of the problems introduced, it is important to carry out a postural assessment in all those situations where symptoms recur or never completely disappear, to look for the causes that preserve the dysfunction.
In conclusion, in posturology there is no ready-made recipe, it’s necessary to perform evaluations, measure with objective methods, make a diagnosis and finally find the right solutions for each person because each of us is different and “the posture is personalized” (Rossato M.)
It is a method that lays the foundations on the original principles of the Mézières Method and a few body techniques of Feldenkrais and Bertherat.
The peculiarity of this method is to carefully examine the person as a whole, observing every parameter or dysfunction and looking for past physical traumas, scars, surgeries, malocclusions (of iatrogenic or non-iatrogenic origin), postural vices, incorrect manners of doing activities or employing the body and emotional situations that have left a profound mark.
In assessing a person, we start from the assumption that the body is born with specific functional characteristics and that over time, through “bumps in the road” (pathologies, traumas, not yet overcome difficulties, important emotional stresses, etc.) it deforms, adapts and subsequently it builds itself up, losing freedom and functionality. The body, in fact, for the best benefit and the least harm and basically for analgesic purposes, establishes limitations defined as compensations.
Any conscious and unconscious compensation, carried out in an attempt to solve a problem in the present, will inevitably cause a postural alteration and a possible problem in the future.
The fascial and connective system of our body, in fact, makes sure that muscle chains themselves cannot be released from each other, behaving like a network that involves the whole body. This is the reason why Mézières said “where the effect (pain or limit) occurs, the cause can not be found” (unless it is a direct trauma).
The game of muscle chains makes sure that the body, in the face of a pain or problem, in order to guarantee survival, enacts the most complex and intelligent strategies in an unpredictable way (to save energy, not suffer and achieve its goals. ).
This is the reason why each postural treatment must always act on the entire network of chains in a coordinated and simultaneous way, through decompensated postures.
The treatment of the person must be therefore carried out in its entirety by looking for the cause or causes that produced the dysfunction and not focusing only on the effect/pain present.
In this way, many conditions, pains and musculoskeletal pathologies attain great benefits: neck pain, back pain, lumbago, lumbosciatica, periarthritis, coxarthrosis, gonarthrosis, hyperkyphosis, scoliosis, arthritic processes of the spine and pain which suddenly arises with an apparently unknown cause. It is also very effective in reducing psycho-physical stress and improving breathing.
Posture is “the expression of an inherited experience, of a personal experience, of cultural formation and deformation, of memories of one’s physical and emotional traumas, of the kind of life and stress we live, of the type of work and sport to which we are subdued over time; posture is the way we breathe, the way we stand, behave and relate to ourselves and to others. Our posture is an expression of our history.” (Daniele Raggi)