Postural Distortion
A Primary Cause of Lower Back Pain

Spine with an S-Curve.

A Matter of Gravity

Understanding postural distortion and it’s capacity to cause lower back pain begins with understanding the body in gravity.

The impact of gravity on our bodies cannot be stated too strongly. Nothing on earth escapes gravity’s powerful, constant force. When the body is in balance, when the head is aligned over the spine and the spine is aligned over the pelvis, legs, and feet, the gravitational field is synergistic with the human structure. In other words, the force of gravity does not pull the body toward the earth. Rather the body is able to relax in a state of equipoise, a state of balance.

The Loss of Verticality

When the body loses its verticality, however, as happens due to injury, trauma, shallow breathing, muscular compensation, or a variety of other factors, this state of equipoise is disrupted. This is what’s called postural distortion. When the head, for example, chronically moves forward off the center line (the coronal plane), the muscles of the neck and back are forced to contract to counteract the pull of gravity on the head. The head becomes a 6+ pound weight that your back muscles have to hold up all day long. On the other hand, when the head is balanced over the shoulders, it is protected from the downward pull of gravity by the mass of the body.

Pelvic Torsion

Another example of postural distortion occurs when there’s a torsion in the pelvis. A torsion in the pelvis can lead to what’s called a functional leg-length difference which compels the body to lean to one side, off the mid-sagittal center line. This elicits a powerful compensatory contraction of muscles in the waist and lower back in order to bring the body upright. As long as a pelvic torsion is left uncorrected, this compensatory contraction will persist, eventually fatiguing the muscles, causing ischemia (low blood flow), and producing lower back pain.

Unraveling the Mystery of Lower Back Pain

The conventional medical model still views the body as an assembly of individual parts to be scrutinized individually,

rather than as an integrated whole. Once the overall structure of the body is taken into account, and forces such as gravity and postural distortion are seen in their proper light, the mystery of lower back pain (and much other chronic pain) will no longer be so baffling. Realizing that the majority of lower back pain is the result of muscular spasm and strain opens up the possibility of real and lasting relief.

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