The Posture Theory is a concept used to explain why many people experience a variety of backaches, chest and stomach pains, and other symptoms without any particular diagnoses.
Previously, the symptoms had been regarded as the imaginary complaints of those with hypochondria, because there was no x-ray evidence of disease.
The actual cause of many of these symptoms remained a mystery until the publication of a 1980 essay entitled "The Matter Of Framework." In it, author M. A. Banfield first described how leaning forward with a stooped spine compresses the chest and abdomen resulting in stomach and chest pains, palpitations and breathlessness. In addition, the pressure on air and blood vessels in the chest can result in faintness and fatigue. After years of crooked posture, he postulates, the stooped spine alters the shape of the body’s organs, causing a multitude of symptoms.
The cause remained a mystery because
1. there was no immediate link between cause and effect, and
2. not everyone with poor posture develops such symptoms.
Why? Because other factors contribute, such as a stooped spine, sedentary work (which involves leaning toward a desk), and tight corsets or belts which reduce the chest and the abdominal space.
According to Banfield, slouching pushes the stomach into a vertical rather than horizontal position. Reformed this way, the stomach functions less efficiently, and can result in impaired digestion.
Palpitations can be felt when the chest in pushed back against the heart so the beating is more readily felt on the chest wall.
Banfield goes on to say people with sideways curvature of the spine, have one shoulder lower than the other. When such a person leans toward a desk, as to write, for instance, the spine twists, and the lower tip of their breastbone stabs the stomach, producing pain, weakness, and tenderness.
Another example is low quality vocal sounds that are produced when the a stooped head compresses the throat. For this, postural improvement methods, such as “The Alexander Technique,” have been used by both singers and radio announcers to straighten and strengthen the vocal cords for clear vocal quality.
Pressure on the lungs makes it difficult to take a full breath so the person will tend to take several quick deep breaths every few minutes.
The effect of leaning toward a desk is subtle, but patients find it difficult to sit still and constantly move about in their chairs or get up often to walk about. They seem to be generally restless and ultimately develop insomnia.
Symptoms are more common during pregnancy when the enlarging womb presses against the heart and lungs, and when the increasing weight of the baby puts pressure on the abdominal veins. Women have reported relief when laying down and rolling from side to side.
SHAKESPEARE SAW THE CONNECTION
In his play RICHARD III, Shakespeare seems to have seen the connection between pressure and symptoms when he wrote: "Oh, cut laces in sunder, that my pent heart may have some scope to beat, or else I swoon."
Translated into modern English and Posture Theory context would be: "Oh, cut the laces of my corset to relieve the pressure on my heart which is confined to such a small chest, so that it can have room to beat, and allow the blood to flow from my feet to my brain, or else I will faint."
Indeed, the symptoms were more commonly reported by corseted city girls than loosely- clothed country girls.
The corset compressed the waist and was responsible for countless illnesses and the fainting spells that were so common in the nineteenth century. Women typically relieved the faint by unlacing their corsets, which reduced the pressure on their waists, and by laying down on chaise lounges to allow the free flow of blood between their feet and their brains.
However, women did not believe the connection because they could not see the distorting affect the corsets had on their internal organs.
Only an anatomist could see the horrendous effects the corset had on deforming the insides of a woman.
Anatomists often cut open a woman after she died and saw the compressed and twisted stomach, liver and womb. Statistics showed that women who wore the tightest corsets had the shortest life expectancy.
Fortunately, the corset era came to an end during World War I. The men went to war while the women went to work in munitions factories. There, they could not get enough air into their lungs to do the heavy manual work until they discarded their corsets in favor of loose factory clothing.
The impetus of the theory was Banfield's own healing of his Da Costa's syndrome.
Between 1991 and 2000, he expanded the theory into a 1000-page book with more than 100 references and 300 illustrations. Now in its 11th edition, the book is carried in public, school, and university libraries worldwide.
Latest revision as of 02:30, 23 April 2013
Poor posture is the posture[disambiguation needed] that results from certain muscles tightening up or shortening while others lengthen and become weak which often occurs as a result of one's daily activities. There are different factors which can impact on posture and they include occupational activities and biomechanical factors such as force and repetition. Risk factors for poor posture also include psychosocial factors such as job stress and strain. Workers who have higher job stress are more likely to develop neck and shoulder symptoms.
1 Who is at risk
2 Types of poor posture
3 What poor posture looks like
5 Causes of poor posture
5.1 Warnings concerning backpacks and computer use
Who is at risk
Studies have shown that drivers of trucks and public transport vehicles are at a greater risk of lower back and neck pain syndromes as well as other musculoskeletal disorders than clerical workers, partly because of their poor sitting posture and lack of breaks. Clerical workers who use a computer for extended periods are at greater risk of upper extremity and neck pain, especially on the side where the mouse is used. Further studies have implicated poor sitting posture in the development and perpetuation of neck pain syndromes. Sitting for long periods without interruption with poor posture has been shown to cause postural backache.
Poor posture can result in spinal and joint dysfunction as a result of muscle changes. Poor posture can result in short term but more likely long term pain or damage.
Types of poor posture
Poor posture can present in several ways:
It can present with rounded and elevated shoulders and a pushed-forward head position. This position places stress on the spine between the top of the neck and skull and the base of the neck and upper shoulders. There is a reduction in the stability of the shoulder blades resulting in changes to the movement pattern of the upper extremities.
It can present with a forward tilting of the hips, an increase in the curve of the lumbar spine, and a protruding stomach. This position places stress over both the hip joints and lower back.
What poor posture looks like
Poor posture is the result of musculoskeletal distortion in the neck, and lower and upper back. Most people think of poor posture as simply slumping over, but that is not necessarily the case. Due to the variety of body types, incorrect posture differs from person to person. One person's proper posture can be incorrect posture for someone else and vice versa. Nevertheless, there are ways to determine poor posture. Some of the classic signs of poor posture include having a pot belly, rounded shoulders, and a jutted out neck and chin. Pot bellies result when the lower back experiences an exaggerated curve, thus pushing the internal organs, in the abdominal region of the body, toward the anterior of the body. Rounded shoulders and postural neck problems result from the excessive anterior curve of the cervical and thoracic spine.
There are numerous risks associated with poor posture. Poor posture can impede the ability of the lungs to expand. Posture, when correct, helps to increases one's ability to breathe, and allows muscles to work at optimum capacity. When slumped over, the lungs have less room to contract and inflate, therefore, decreasing its capacity to obtain the maximum amount of oxygen needed.
Poor posture is also a main risk factor in many injuries. Many athletic injuries are the result of poor posture. For example, the Journal of Athletic Training; May 2009 Supplement, states that "many overhead athletes suffer from shoulder pain due to poor posture."  According to Segen's Medical Dictionary the term overhead athletes refers to amateur or professional athletes who participate in overhead sports and are thus at risk of traumatic or degenerative injuries to the shoulder girdle. Overhead athletes are not the only ones at risk. Poor posture injuries can be found everywhere.
Weight lifting, if not done correctly, can be detrimental to posture, and causes a lot of the neck and shoulder problems in countless athletes. Vern Gambetta, in her article Perfect Posture, states; "Overemphasis on the bench press can [hinder good posture], as it causes a round-shouldered posture."  The rounding of the shoulders can cause pain as stated in the University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter; November 2000, "Increase in neck and shoulder pain may be due to the postural problems in the upper body including rounded shoulders and jutting the head forward. Although the thoracic and lumbar spines are crucial factors in postural problem, they tend to overshadow the head or the cervical spine. An article in the February 2006 Consumer Reports on Health remarked that "Research has found, for example that letting your head jut forward is associated with neck, back and even jaw pain." Some headaches are the result of poor head posture. The decrease and even loss of shoulder movement along with chronic pain, neck-related headaches and the decline in the ability to exercise as well as many other problems stem from poor posture. Injuries and pain caused by poor posture span a wide variety of people. All areas of the spine are equally important when it comes to posture. Poor posture is a physical as well as an emotion problem. It affects mood, confidence and how one is viewed by others. In the January 1999 issue of Vegetarian Times, Karin Sullivan in her article "Perfect Posture" states, "Someone with collapsed or withdrawn body posture doesn't invite the same kind of interaction [as someone with good posture.]" Most communication is associated with body language. Posture is a key aspect of body language. Slumping over closes one off to others. Someone who is already depressed can fall farther into depression because no one will come up to them because their posture indicates they don't want to be disturbed.
After a time, poor posture feels normal and continues to regress further from correct posture. Sullivan says this is "a [vicious] cycle where slouching and slumping pull the spine's vertebrae out of alignment, which in turn leads to muscle tension that can cause even more slumping and slouching". When poor posture feels normal it becomes harder to correct because the muscle memory now stores the information needed for poor posture, and disposed of the memory for correct posture. Some ways of correcting poor posture do more damage than good. The old standard of soldiers with their shoulders thrust back, heads up while standing at attention causes the back to tense up and is extremely hard to sustain for long periods of time. Posture is somewhat of a precision based practice. If one is not in correct alignment, poor posture is the consequence. If not amended correctly, one's posture can be further harmed and can lead to increasingly painful experiences. Any distress in the spine, as well as other parts of the body can be increased due to prolonged periods of poor posture. Poor posture will continue to digress the longer it is left uncorrected.
Causes of poor posture
Poor posture can stem from many sources; one of the most significant sources deals with repetitive motion without frequent breaks. If one spends a substantial part of one's day in a certain position without frequent reprieves, the spine tends to orient itself to that movement. For example if someone is constantly leaning over to pick up objects, gradually the spine will start to develop a more exaggerated forward curve of the thoracic spine. Sullivan comments on poor posture saying; "These problems [poor posture] are often the result of chronic muscle tension, physical injuries or even emotional trauma, such as grief or depression. Conditions like these throw the musculoskeletal system out of alignment, and if not corrected, poor posture eventually feels normal." Emotions, as wells as physical activities, affect the state of one's posture.
Other causes include sustained immobile posture for long periods of time. Taylor, Consmüller, and Rohlmann in their article "A novel system for the dynamic assessment of back shape" in the Medical Engineering & Physics journal, say: "Low back pain is an increasing problem and can be aggravated by prolonged static posture. Sitting for prolonged periods is a great hindrance to good posture. Poor sitting posture is hard to rectify. Jenny Pynt in The Physiotherapy Theory & Practice journal states, "In sitting there is no one ideal posture, nor should one posture be sustained. Healthy sitting posture therefore is best thought of as an active not static phenomenon." Poor posture is affected by prolonged periods of repeated motions, or remaining fixed in one particular position.
Warnings concerning backpacks and computer use
Backpacks and computer use are associated with spinal distortions. The Sept/Oct edition of American Fitness in their article "Get in Straight: Simple Steps to Improve Your Posture" quote Dr. Thielman who "cautions against carrying backpacks that weigh more than 20 pounds, attempting to lift object that are too heavy and repetitively making the same moves without taking frequent breaks. Any one of these activities encourages the forward leaning motion that causes poor posture and back problems."  Computer use and backpacks both favor the anterior leaning of the upper portion of the body. The weight of the backpack causes the shoulders to slump forward to compensate for the extra weight. The posture in which one has while carrying a backpack affects one's unloaded posture. In the article "Adolescent standing postural response to backpack loads: a randomised controlled experimental study" in the 2002 edition of BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 3 Grimmer et al. notes; "Unloaded posture that habitually deviates from gravitational alignment has been associated with spinal pain." When one becomes accustomed to slumped shoulders when carrying a backpack, the action affects normal unloaded posture.
Computer use is also problematic concerning posture. An article in Consumer Reports on Health sates, "The journal of electromyography and kinesiology found that poor posture among computer users is an independent risk factor for musculoskeletal disorders of the neck and shoulders." By itself, computer use can put one in severe health situations. It deforms the thoracic and cervical spine to a point where serious wellbeing concerns are foreseeable. Steve Marshal in his article "Oh, My Aching Back!" in Occupational Health & Safety journal observes; "we do not as a whole, sit with proper posture when using our computers.' 'We slouch, we hunch over and perhaps we sit cross-legged or curl our legs under our seats." This computer posture encourages us to bend forward when not using the computer. The worst aspect of carrying backpacks and computer use is that it is a larger part of everyday life for many people. Consequently, people are in sustained periods of poor posture. The prolonged action that encourages bad posture, only leads to increased poor posture.
^ a b c "Posture and back health. Paying attention to posture can help you look and feel better."p. 6-7.
^ a b c d e Sullivan, Karin Horgan. "Perfect Posture." p.64.
^ a b "Free Communications, Oral Presentations: Shoulder & Scapula Interventions." p.S11-S12.
^ Gambetta , Vern. "Perfect Posture."
^ a b Julius, Andrea. "Shoulder posture and median nerve sliding."p.23-27
^ "Position yourself to stay well." p.8-9.
^ a b Taylor, William R. "A novel system for the dynamic assessment of back shape." p.1080-1083.
^ "Get in Straight: Simple Steps to Improve Your Posture." p.47.
^ Grimmer, Karen. "Adolescent standing postural response to backpack loads: a randomised controlled experimental study."p.10.
^ "Position yourself to stay well." p.8-9.
^ Marshall, Steve. "Oh, My Aching Back!."p.118
"Free Communications, Oral Presentations: Shoulder & Scapula Interventions." Journal of Athletic Training 44. May 2009. S11-S12. Academic Search Premier. Database. 14 Sep 2011.>
< Gambetta , Vern. "Perfect Posture." Monementum Media. Momentum Media, Mar 2006. Web. 21 Sep 2011. <http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/tc/tc1602/posture.htm>.>
< "Get in Straight: Simple Steps to Improve Your Posture." American Fitness 27.5 Sep/Oct 2009. 47. Academic Search Premier. Database. 14 Sep 2011.>
< Grimmer, Karen, Brenton Dansie, Steve Milanese, Ubon Pirunsan, and Patricia Trott. "Adolescent standing postural response to backpack loads: a randomised controlled experimental study." BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 3. (2002): 10. Academic Search Premier. Database. 14 Sep 2011.>
< Julius, Andrea, Rebecca Lees, Andrew Diley, and Lynn Bruce. "Shoulder posture and median nerve sliding." BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 5. (2004): 23-27. Academic Search Premier. Database. 14 Sep 2011.>
< Marshall, Steve. "Oh, My Aching Back!." Occupational Health & Safety 71.6 June 2002. 118. Academic Search Premier. Database. 14 Sep 2011.>
<"Position yourself to stay well." Consumer Reports on Health 18.2 Feb 2006. 8-9. Academic Search Premier. Database. 14 Sep 2011.>
<"Posture and back health. Paying attention to posture can help you look and feel better." Harvard Women's Health Watch 12. Aug 2005. 6-7. MEDLINE. Database. 14 Sep 2011
< Julius, Andrea, Rebecca Lees, Andrew Diley, and Lynn Bruce. "Shoulder posture and median nerve sliding." BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 5. (2004): 23-27. Academic Search Premier. Database. 14 Sep 2011>
< Sullivan, Karin Horgan. "Perfect Posture." Vegetarian Times 257 Jan 1999. 64. Academic Search Premier. Database. 14 Sep 2011.>
< Taylor, William R., Tobias Consmüller, and Antonius Rohlmann. "A novel system for the dynamic assessment of back shape." Medical Engineering & Physics. 32.9 Nov 2010. 1080-1083. Academic Search Premier. Database. 14 Sep 2011.>
Effects of Tight Lacing on the body
Latest revision as of 03:11, 27 April 2013
Tight lacing is the practice of wearing a corset that has been tightly laced to shape the body to a desired figure. This practice has been in effect since the early years of corsetry, often deplored by moralists and the subject of urban legends and cautionary tales in many centuries. For the same amount of time, doctors spoke against the practice, citing dramatic risks to the wearer's health; however, many claims were based on the incomplete medical knowledge of the day, as well as incorrect and sexist assumptions and beliefs about the female body.
9 Gall Bladder
Damage to the heart is a very common effect of tight lacing. The general belief is that extensive wearing of the corset results in a smaller rib cage, compressing the heart into poor function, resulting "inevitably" in palpitations. There is, however, no actual evidence from specific, cited autopsies supporting the notion that the heart is damaged by corsetry.
Damage to the lungs is often one of the most deadly effects of tight lacing. The constriction of the corset prevents the lower lobes of the lungs from fully expanding when taking a breath. This puts extra strain on and causes additional work for the lower lobes of the lungs. They eventually become tired, worn out, and exhausted which prevents them from doing their job properly. David Kunzle puts emphasis on the fact that because the lower lobes have been strained, they are unable to adequately fight off pneumonia or bacillus tuberculosis which go to the lower lobes of the lungs first. However, Valerie Steele notes that the corset's association with tuberculosis originated before the bacillus was discovered, and that the corset may have only aggravated the condition.
In the nineteenth century, corseting was thought to lead to cardiac palpitations in the heart and spanaemia, or the lack of oxygen in the blood. There is no evidence to support corset-caused circulatory damage.
The pressure placed on the breasts results in many injuries and complications. Corset-wearing cannot cause breast cancer. Occurring more frequently is a reduction of the size of the nipples. Victorians believed the corset caused mammary abscesses, a common inflammation of the connective tissue in the breast; however, mastitis is caused by bacteria, and there is little evidence that clothing may cause the condition.
Victorian doctors believed that, in a tightly-laced corset, the stomach would be unable to churn correctly, making it difficult to digest food completely. This condition is called dyspepsia, more commonly known as indigestion. However, there is no evidence linking corsetry to dyspepsia, although it may cause constipation and make it difficult for the wearer to eat a sizable meal.
Victorian doctors believed that the liver experienced many complications while the body is tight laced, becoming severed due to the location of the ribs as a result of the tight lacing, and that the liver would become enlarged or displaced.  Another possibility was mechanical congestion, the result of the pressure placed on the inferior vena cava, thus obstructing the flow of blood. According to Dr. Tse-Ling Fong, liver cancer is often the result of this vein being blocked. The blocked vein is not able to filter out the bad blood in the liver resulting in a cancerous infection. However, corsets would not have had a drastic effect on the liver, merely squeezing and elongating it, and modern research shows that much of the liver function can be lost without causing health problems. Steele also notes that there is a great deal of variation in liver appearance, which may have confused anatomists performing autopsies.
The corset may have aided a poor diet in causing constipation which, according to Dr. Majid Ali, if severe enough and left untreated, can eventually lead to death.
The uterus was believed by Victorian doctors to suffer the most from tight lacing, failing to develop properly due to the inactivity of the abdominal muscles or becoming prolapsed. Others believed that every time the bladder or rectum emptied, the uterus was unable to be lifted back into place due to weak ligaments, causing head and back pain, and inability to stand or walk, and improper menstruation. However, this line of thought rested on very little evidence and the assumption that the uterus was one of the most important organs in a woman's body, and it is unlikely that the uterus actually suffered from corsetry.
Victorian doctors believed there was a relationship between gallstones and tight lacing, the corset causing extreme weight loss. (Gallstones are the result of the body metabolizing fat to compensate for rapid weight loss.) However, the most common sufferers from gallstones are female even today, and it is unlikely that the corset had much to do with the condition.
Wearing a corset for a very extended period of time can result in muscle atrophy and lower-back pain. The pectoral muscles also become weak after extensive tight lacing. These weakened muscles cause a greater reliance on the corset.
^ "Tightlacing." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Oct. 2009. Web. 10 Oct. 2009.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Steele, Valerie (2005). The Corset: A Cultural History. Yale University Press.
^ a b c d e f g h Crutchfield, Eugene Lee, M.D. "Some Ill Effects of the Corset." Gaillard's Medical Journal 67 (July 1897): 37–14. Google Books. Web. 19 Sept. 2009.
^ a b c d Kunzle, David. Fashion and Fetishism. Totowa: Rowman and Littlefield, 1982. Print.
^ "Spanaemia." Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary. n.d. Web
^ "Mastitis". Wikipedia. Retrieved April 2013.
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^ Fong, Tse-Ling, M.D. "Liver Cancer." MedicineNet.com. Ed. Leslie J. Schoenfield, M.D. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2009.
^ Ali, Majid, M.D. "Control of Constipation ." Ethnics in Medicine. n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2009.
^ Law, Hartland, M.D., and Herbert E. Law, F.C.S. "Displacements of the Womb." Viavi Hygiene: Explaining the Natural Principles upon Which the Viavi System of Treatment for Men, Women and Children Is Based. San Francisco: Viavi Company, 1912. 258–271. Google Books Search. Web. 26 Sept. 2009.
^ Cornforth, Tracee. "What Causes Gallstones." About.com. Ed. Medical Review Board. N.p., 18 July 2009. Web. 26 Sept. 2009.