For New York-based chiropractic doctor Rudy Gerhman, asymmetrical posture is the ultimate cause of these pain types. In an article in MBG Health, he discussed the source of chronic pain and methods to get rid of it for good.
Posture is not just about the position assumed by the body of a person while seated or standing. It is a subconscious behavior that comes from the early stages of a person's life. During this time, the person holds a position for long periods. Eventually, the muscles get used to the stance and automatically assumes it. The habit plays a big part in problems like "tech neck," where constant use of electronic devices leads to lousy posture.
As such, posture isn't just about keeping your back straight. It also encompasses a person prioritizing one side of the body over the other, and the resulting asymmetric position can make people's lives miserable. (Related: Chronic lower back pain can be reduced with Gua Sha therapy.)
Patients who suffer chronic pain from asymmetrical posture need to start considering their position in a different light. They also have to think of ways to improve their stance to reduce the severity and recurrence of chronic pain.
Most massage therapists will diagnose muscle soreness as a result of a long flight, a rough night, or excessive tension in the neck muscles. Gerhman, on the other hand, observes the way a patient sits in the chair. He identifies the side favored by that person and determines how it affects the curvature of the spine.
Problems in the position of the spine are known to be a leading cause of acute lower back pain. To fix this problem, Gerhman recommends a two-part plan.
The patient starts by increasing awareness of his or her current posture. Once he or she achieves greater awareness, the patient will adopt the exact opposite action of what he or she has been doing all this time.
For example, the usual sitting posture of a person has the left leg resting on the right knee. After the patient learns to spot that habit, he or she reverses the position by putting their right leg over their left knee.
“People have habits, and they're often shifted over in bizarre positions without realizing it,” he explained. “When you realize you're not straight, do the exact opposite.”
Gehrman recommends right-handed people to use their left hand to perform tasks, and vice versa for left-handed patients. He even suggests rearranging the contents of their desks to ensure the less dominant side sees more use.
At the start of the alternative therapy, participants expressed the odd feeling of using the other side of their body. But as time went on, they also enjoyed the pain-relieving benefits of consciously adjusting the posture of their body to be more symmetrical.
Acupuncture, massage, and other natural forms of therapy will bring temporary relief from chronic pain. But improving body posture for dozens of hours each week achieved longer-lasting improvements.
“You have to investigate your world and identify the microtraumas that are constantly occurring,” he added. “You have to figure out what that is or no other modality – not physical therapy, not chiropractic, stem cells, dry needling, acupuncture – will help you.”