Koda Integrative Therapy Group

Therapeutic Massage and Health Partners for Recovery and Performance

Filtering by Tag: #painmanagement

Posture and Impact on Pain

Your spine is strong and stable when you practice healthy posture. But when you slouch or stoop, your muscles and ligaments strain to keep you balanced — which can lead to back pain, headaches and other problems. In addition to physical pain, there is a physiologically efficient posture, and everyone knows that, right?  Okay, maybe you did not.

If most people understand what their posture does to there mind (as well as their body) then most people would also understand the value of Massage (all types no favorites). Here is how to use massage to prevent and maintain balance throughout the body in muscles, structural system and nervous system.

Natural Spine Curve

A healthy back has three natural curves:

  • An inward or forward curve at the neck (cervical curve)
  • An outward or backward curve at the upper back (thoracic curve)
  • An inward curve at the lower back (lumbar curve)

Good posture helps maintain these natural curves, while poor posture does the opposite — which can stress or pull muscles and cause pain.

Physiological Efficient Posture

Loss of an upright Physiological Efficient Posture makes the relationship between posture, psychology and pain more transparent.  'Bad' or inefficient posture can adversely affect all the systems of the body. I take for granted that I was used as bad example in class a lot (thank you to everyone who noticed), but I even I was unaware of ALL my postural faults: shoulder, hips, foot.

Think of the impact to cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, energetic, excretory, fascial, immune, integumentary, lymphatic, muscular, nervous, respiratory, reproductive, skeletal and urinary systems when there is a constriction or reduced space within the structural system. This generally happens when you slouch over a desk, stay sedentary for 8-10 hours at work (my developer friends will appreciate this) and/or playing video games AFTER you get home from sitting in front of a desk all day your body does have the opportunity to 'move.'

Muscles were designed to move, by simply changing these habits and limiting sitting, walking regularly throughout the day and minimizing 'technology use' for 1-2 hours - then anyone can reduce the risk and long term negative affects of inefficient posture.

When you do have to work at a desk, "sitting up with good, tall posture and your shoulders dropped is a good habit to get into," says Rebecca Seguin, PhD, an exercise physiologist and nutritionist in Seattle.

This can take some getting used to; exercise disciplines that focus on body awareness, such as Pilates and yoga, can help you to stay sitting straight, Seguin says. Make sure your workstation is set up to promote proper posture.

Client’s mood and physical process in ALL the system above have all been shown to improve when an upright Physiological Efficient Posture is restored. Furthermore, bad posture and/or bad mood can be cyclical- they can improve and decline without effort or mindfullness. More importantly loss of the Physiological Efficient Posture moves people away from Homœostasis and further into Allostasis. These affects can be reversed through strengthening, massage/structural integration or psychological ‘restoration’ of movement. 

The Primary Alignment is the relationship between the body's Center of Gravity (Core) and its Counterweight. To understand more about the importance of a Physiological Efficient Posture and the Primary Alignment follow discussion on the philosophy of Somatics and Feldenkreis manual therapy (both related to the mind-body connection). 

Massage and Posture

In order to find out how Postural Alignment can be influenced by Massage Therapy practices, use assessments that focus on Orthopedic Testing and Bio mechanical assessments (HOPRS), Core Integration (Structural Integration -Rolfing) and Postural Alignment in corrective exercise to provide safe and gentle changes. These processes can help people with:

Many of these ailments ar a direct (and negative result) of posture that is not efficient and positive for the human body Alkylosing Spondylitis, Anxiety, Arthritis, Asthma, Back Pain, Balance Problems, Breathing Impairment, Depression, Digestive Problems, Fatigue, Foot Problems, Frozen Shoulders, Headaches, Insomnia, Jaw Problems, Joint Pain, Knee Problems, Kyphosis, Learning and Behavioral Difficulties, Lordosis, Low Energy, Menstrual Problems, Migraines, Multiple Sclerosis, Neck Pain, Pins and Needles, Poor Posture, Problems during and after Pregnancy, Recurrent Infections, Repetitive Strain Injuries, Scoliosis, Sciatica, Sinus Problems, Sports Injuries, Stress Management, Tension, Visual Disturbances, Wellness Care, Whiplash Injuries and more.

Postural Alignment does not treat or cure any disease or symptom. It is primarily concerned with creating a healthy, balanced state on all levels by helping people back towards homœostasis. Pilates and yoga are great ways to build up the strength of your "core"—the muscles of your abdomen and pelvic area. These muscles form the foundation of good posture, and a strong core can have many other benefits, from improving your athletic performance to preventing urinary incontinence. In addition to helping to increase body awareness and core strength, yoga is an excellent way to build and maintain flexibility and strengthen muscles throughout your body. Check in daily with your body's needs and listen to it's requirements.

Seeking Wellness - Progress not Perfection

As we get older life isn’t like the movies. It’s not a party every night or always hanging out with friends or family. The reality is, if nights aren’t spent working, then there is something to read, facebook posts to respond to or website updates that need to happen. If I'm not working on my business, then I'm probably watching Netflix, pretending like I don’t have those two work deadlines next week. Once I accept that I DO have those two deadlines and rush to cram, my sleep and sanity suffer. It’s a draining, all-too-familiar cycle for most people!

It is hard to perform at your best if you are not taking care of your mind and body. Wellness matters, and I’m not just talking about eating right and exercising throughout the week (although those are extremely important). Wellness is much broader than that, and wellness matters because everything we do, every thought, and every emotion we feel relates to our well-being. These feelings in turn, directly affect our actions. It’s a dynamic process of change and growth. Therefore, it is important to make sure you are striving for wellness in all aspects of life. This is referred to as a Biopsychosocial (BPS) model of how human being interact with their environment.

Developed by Osteology in the mid- Nineteenth century. It attributes disease outcome to the intricate, variable interaction of biological factors (genetic, biochemical, etc), psychological factors (mood, personality, behavior, etc.), and social factors (cultural, familial, socioeconomic, medical, etc.).[1] The Biopsychosocial (BPS) model counters the biomedical model, which attributes disease to roughly only biological factors, such as viruses, genes, or somatic abnormalities.


There are eight dimensions of wellness interrelated with each other and equally vital in your pursuit of health and wellness. The eight dimensions are:

Since I just defined what is considered a Biopsychosocial Environment, wellness should be your balance of these factors and top priority when looking at health concerns. I know that it is way easier said than done! Fortunately, there are a number of resources to help manage the stresses you may face, and for support there are health care professionals that are available to help with minor or major issues. You just have to ask.

Here is a list of five resources and events to look out for, particularly highlighting ways to enhance your social, emotional, physical and environmental wellness without a lot of cost.

Wellness Carnivals happens every fall, and they are full of organizations and dedicated to actively promoting health and wellness on campus and providing opportunities for students to get involved. There are free raffle prizes, food, and games throughout the event. Come hang out with others and learn about the numerous resources and opportunities that help you seek wellness. Sounds like a great way to take a break from stress, right?


Mind Spa & Massage

Did you know that there are places that offer 'inexpensive massage' and mental relaxation at an affordable rate. Yes, LOW COST I have like $5 in my bank account, so this is personally a huge deal for me. It is important to pay attention to self-care, relaxation, stress reduction and the development of inner resources, so you can learn and grow from all experiences. Therefore, give yourself time to go to a Mind Spa to relax , or have a massage at a 'school' that is training massage therapists. Each will come with some soothing music, or massaging recliners or biofeedback programs. If it sounds too good to be true, go check out all they have to offer and see for yourself. After all, you are technically investing in a better you.

Community Sports

Physical activity is a key component to a healthy lifestyle. Regular physical activity can increase your energy levels, improve your cognitive abilities, and help you sleep better. What better way to get your daily dose of exercise than to get out on the field or court with your friends or neighbors? Get away from the idea that you can only work out by going to the gym; there are a number of ways to move your body! Think of what you enjoyed doing as a kid and try to incorporate that into your day. Make it fun! Get some roller blades, take dance lessons, or kick around the soccer ball, just get out there and get your heart pumping!


Botanical Gardens

Did you know that you can adopt a plot and have your own small garden in the middle of the city?  How cool is that? It’s your own little patch of earth, where you can grow your own fruits and veggies. You can also visit edible urban gardens that allow you to pick fresh fruit and veggies if your a member? Not only is gardening and being in nature a great stress reliever, but it’s also a great way to motivate healthy eating and create a sense of community. Learn more about how to adopt a plot and where edible gardens are located throughout the city.

These are just a few examples of the unique wellness enhancing opportunities.


Foam Roller


Sleep and Muscle Relaxation

Beyond a sleeping position, research suggests that not just the sleep position, but sleep itself, can play a role in reducing musculoskeletal pain, including neck and shoulder pain. In one study, researchers compared musculoskeletal pain in 4,140 healthy men and women with and without sleeping problems. Sleeping problems included difficulty falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, low amount of sleep during the night, and waking early in the mornings without feeling 'rested,' and non-restorative sleep.

People who reported moderate to severe problems in at least three of these four categories were significantly more likely to develop chronic musculoskeletal pain after one year than those who reported little or no problem with sleep. One possible explanation is that sleep disturbances disrupt the muscle relaxation and healing that normally occur during sleep. Additionally, it is well established that pain can disrupt sleep, contributing to a vicious cycle of pain disrupting sleep, and sleep problems contributing to pain.

With many things, like neck pain, an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure. It's true that some causes of neck pain, such as aging impact on the body, wear and tear on the neck and spine, stress are not under your control, finding the sleep position to support sound sleep is. On the other hand, there are many things you can do to minimize the risk of improper (read discomfort producing) positioning of the head, neck, shoulders and spine. One place to start is to look at how you sleep and what effect this may have on neck and shoulder pain.

What is the best sleeping position for neck pain?

Two sleeping positions are easiest on the neck: on your side or on your back. Of these two, sleeping on your back, puts less stress on the neck muscles, because you may not toss and turn as much throughout an average of 5-6 hours of sleep. If this is what you choose, find a ‘rounded’ pillow to support the natural curve of your neck…not too high (flexion and extension as it pushes the chin forward) with a flatter pillow ‘plane’ to cushion your head above. Any material will do, as long as this can be achieved by tucking a small neck roll into the pillowcase of a flatter, softer pillow, or by using a special pillow that has a built-in neck support with an indentation for the head to rest on (think bamboo or all natural fiber).

Additional tips for side- and back-sleepers:

If you try using a feather pillow, it will easily conform to the shape of the neck, but the feather pillows will collapse over time, and will need to be replaced every year or so. Thicker ones may push the neck up to far, and thinner ones may need to be ‘rolled’ which will not provide anything but a bolster to the neck (without support for the head).

Another option is a traditional ‘shaped pillow’ made of "memory foam,” which will conform to the contour of your head and neck. Some cervical pillows are also made with memory foam. Manufacturers of memory-foam pillows claim they help foster proper spinal alignment. You must find one that isn’t too high or stiff, so that it doesn’t keep the neck flexed overnight and can result in morning pain and stiffness.

If you sleep on your side, keep your spine straight by using a pillow that is higher under your neck than your head. Be sure to keep your neck inline with your upper back when lying down - and ensure that this is the primary position attempting to achieve (ie. not sleeping upright in bed).

When you are riding in a plane, train, or car, or even just reclining to watch TV, a horseshoe-shaped pillow can support your neck and prevent your head from dropping to one side if you doze. If the pillow is too large behind the neck, however, it will force your head forward. Resting with your 'head propped' up, should not be counted in your prone, sleeping position, as this is translates into incomplete sleep for the parasympathetic nervous system. The entire idea of rest to to remove as much of the influence of gravity on muscles as possible.

Side sleeping or on your stomach is tough on your spine, because the back is arched and your neck is turned to the side. Preferred sleeping positions are often set early in life and can be tough to change, not to mention that we don't often wake up in the same position in which we fell asleep. Still, it's worth trying to start the night sleeping on your back or side in a well-supported, healthy position.