Is bad posture my problem?
No, although changing it could help you to feel better. We know that poor posture doesn’t cause pain. We also know that varying posture often helps pain. So, if you feel stuck in one postural pattern then being able to change it will probably help.
Our job as therapists is to help you find a wide variety of postures easily, your job as the patient is to vary your posture often. Being stuck in a slouched position or a rigid upright position are equally as bad. So go ahead and slouch into your chair, just remember to be nice and upright occasionally so you can still do it.
How often should I stretch?
There is no prescription for how often you should stretch, it comes down to personal preference and goals. If flexibility is your goal then stretching more often will be better up to about 5 times per week. If you are stretching to feel less stiff and achy, then 3 times a week could be enough. The first step is to focus on frequency, just stretch for a couple of minutes but do it consistently.
The next question most people ask is how long should I hold the stretch for? The answer to that is until something happens. Two things can happen, either the sensation of stretch reduces (feels less intense) or you can go a little further into the stretch. Both of these are signs that your nervous system is accepting the stretch ‘request’ that you have made of it. Once you feel either of these things (often 30-60 seconds) then you can move on. If you feel like nothing happened, then probably nothing did. Try getting more comfortable in the stretch by supporting your body a little more or having the sensation be a little less intense and breathe in order to remind you body it is safe to let go.
Should I ignore the pain?
You should never just ignore the pain. At the same time try not to give the pain more importance than it deserves. Non-specific pain is usually not associated with damage and is more likely irritation of the nervous system. Try negotiating with the pain by breathing or moving gently.
If you are not sure if the pain is a sign that you should stop or reduce the activity you are doing the best idea is to do a small amount and wait 24 hrs to see what the response of your body is. If your pain increases by more than 2/10 then it was probably too much. If it stays about the same then you are safe to continue with that level and increase it slowly.
What about physical activity?
Physical activity is vital pillar of health. When considered an intervention, physical exercise the the most effect treatment for many conditions. Watch a video about that here.
Physical activity of any kind (walking is the easiest) helps most aches and pains. Start by doing a small amount of activity on a regular basis. 10 minutes of walking 5 days a week for example.