Postural Deconditioning: Adaptation from repetitive strain injuries

Ooooh, sounds fancy and complicated but in reality, it isn’t! So what is Postural Deconditioning and how does Repetitive Strain factor in? I left off my last entry by introducing the thought: imagine that you used your body and its bones and muscles with a poor posture. What would happen?


Now in this scenario, these muscles and joints are in mechanically poor positions and thus they cannot work as efficiently or effectively as they are designed to do. This creates a STRAIN, which essentially is STRESS to the muscle, joint and bone. Now this is not a huge deal, it is obviously possible to do, we are resilient creatures. However, this is done at the cost of increased energy and stress to the body. Over months and years, these muscles, joints and bones slightly change to ADAPT to the consistent STRESS it is being subjected to (because we are so resilient remember) and we develop REPETITIVE STRAIN injuries.


One day, years later, your body has changed: you’re not sitting straight, you’re hunched, you’re always experiencing constant chronic low-level pain and discomfort; essentially, you are POSTUALLY DECONDITIONED! At this point, the muscles are more shortened and denser in composition, the joints are wearing out and thinned from constant pressure held in the same poor position and you now find yourself in a higher risk category for developing pain (low back pain, neck pain, etc.).


The entire mechanics and design of your body has changed! Your risk of injury is far greater than someone who has a great posture. Now the keyword here is RISK of injury. Think of it like: your chances of getting into a car accident with a low pressure tire (meaning the alignment would be off kilter) are higher than a car driving with equally inflated tires.


Why you are told to lift something by bending your knees and sticking your butt out? So you can assume an optimal lifting posture for the purpose of reducing your chances of getting injured. Apply this principle of doing ANYTHING to someone who is POSTURALLY DECONDITIONED. The chances of “picking up a pencil and throwing out your back” are a lot higher than someone who has a great posture. Let’s get one thing straight, it’s NEVER the pencil’s fault. This is why low back and neck pain are so common, because we REPETITIVELY STRAIN our bodies to the point where our body ADAPTS over time and eventually fails us (even while doing the most mundane of tasks, like picking up a pencil) and then we become injured.


Written by Dr. Alim Kara BSc, DC