There are numerous factors regarding your posture and breathing, including the ergonomics of how we sleep, work and carry our bodies, that can have some very drastic effects on our bodies. Our posture and pain levels can be interrelated.
I really had no idea how much of an impact, but I consider this of great importance. Please bear with me while I expand on this and give some examples so I can convey to you how vital this is and how much of a connection this has to your pain levels.
I have had upper back and neck pain for years and I always assumed it was the top of my list of FM symptoms and that this was just the way it was.
Well, I have also had a bad habit of hunching over when I work at my computer.
I use a MacBook Air, which I love, but it does sit low on the table and you pretty much have to hunch over and bend your head downward to work on it. For the longest time I didn’t realize how much this bad posture and pain in my neck and shoulders were connected.
After reading something about this, I tried something that made a huge difference. My husband set me up with a large computer monitor on top of a stand and plugged my laptop into it. He then connected a keyboard and mouse and I started using a chair that had good ergonomics and great back support. Next thing I knew I was sitting up straight working away comfortably on my computer.
The result? After a few days my pain level drastically reduced and it made a huge difference. It didn’t cure me of Fibromyalgia, but it certainly reduced my upper back and neck pain.
When I was traveling I went back to using just my laptop and right away I notice the strain this puts on my neck and upper back within a few days, so this definitely is a factor.
Now I have a smaller, easily portable, wireless keyboard and mouse that I take with me when I travel so I can prop the laptop up on a box to put it at eye level and keep my back straight.
Another huge factor for me was sleeping on a mattress that doesn’t offer good back support, as well as sleep position. For example, sleeping on your stomach and twisting your neck all night can also cause stiff and painful neck muscles.
High heel shoes or shoes that are too tight, uncomfortable or that have no arch support can also affect how you stand and not only cause foot and leg pain but can also cause back pain and problems.
Finally, I want to tell you one last story about posture and pain. All my life I never had any lower back problems or pain. I had a lot of neck and upper back pain, but not in my lower back. A couple of years ago I was working on learning some Pilates routines and the instructor talked about the position of your pelvis and the importance of tucking your pelvis in to strengthen your core. This was something that seemed to make sense to me, so I worked on it and over time changed my posture so that my pelvis was tucked in when I walked, stood and laid on my back.
Within several months of this I started to develop lower back problems. At the time, we were traveling and living in Baja Mexico and I attributed it to our mattress, which wasn’t very good. However, getting a new mattress didn’t change anything. I started trying various stretches and exercises and that didn’t stop it either. One night I woke up in serious pain. I got up and tried to walk to the kitchen but only made it halfway before I was screaming in pain. My husband came rushing out to help me. The pain was so severe that it was too much for my body to handle. I was blacking out and vomiting.
My husband rushed me to the hospital.
They thought it was kidney stones, so I ended up going by ambulance up to a hospital in San Diego. It wasn’t kidney stones after all but it was two herniated discs in my lower back. One disc had ruptured and leaked onto the nerves causing excruciating pain.
I ended up at a spine center in LA and was able to treat it without surgery to get it calmed down. Nevertheless, it continued to be painful and problematic for another year despite chiropractic treatments, physical therapy, massage, back exercises, traction and decompression treatments, ultrasound, laser, etc., etc., until I finally discovered the correct underlying cause – it was my posture change!
There is a woman named Esther Gokhale who experienced a similar lower back problem to the one I had. She also tried all kinds of remedies and finally ended up getting surgery.
When it flared up again, she decided to do some extensive research. I ran across an article about her and what she found. She has a website: http://gokhalemethod.com/ and a book entitled 8 Steps to a Pain-free Back. She also has a YouTube channel with a bunch of videos, but most of those videos are also on her website.
Needless to say, I think she hit the nail on the head and the simple posture changes that she recommends completely handled my lower back pain. It wasn’t instant, but within a few weeks it really changed.
Realize that there are false ideas around that are pushed off as “good” or “correct posture” that just aren’t. So, I would definitely recommend at least watching a couple of Gokhale’s videos.
Correct posture can make a huge difference in your chronic pain levels.
So it’s worth looking into and correcting. It could be the sofa you sit on to watch some TV in the evening sinks down and puts your back or neck in a bad position, or it could be a multitude of different things.
Now that you are aware of this, consider it throughout your day and make sure you have good posture and good ergonomics in chairs or other furniture that you use.