I’ve always dreamed about becoming a Dr. of Naprapathy. Because, I know how extensive their education is about the body, and how effective their treatments are. But also because I love to work with people. I didn’t become Dr. of Naprapathy, but I started to collaborate with one. Here is the initial blog post on the topic, where I’ve interviewed the licensed Naprapath Malin El Tayara. Below she is answering some of all the questions I had about the importance of a good posture, and that I experience be closely related to the women I’m working with daily.
What naprapathy is, and how a naprapath is working.
Naprapathy is, just as you said, not very common outside of Scandinavia… but originates from Chiropractic. It’s a softer version of joint and muscle adjustments, than that of what chiropractors normally are using. “Napra pathos” is translated as relief from suffering.
As a naprapath, I’m looking for, and I’m treating, muscle tension and limitations of mobility in joints. It can be symptoms such as head ache, lower back pain, pain in shoulders and arms, bad circulation in hands and feet because of tensed muscles.
Often it’s about reminding the client about her body and to get back into a normal moving pattern. The client will be able to maintain this improvement with stretching and exercise.
To visit a naprapath regularly can help you to improve the function in muscles and joints, your posture and movement pattern. If you find it difficult to exercise and do your own treatments, you may need to come back more frequently to the naprapath. But when you understand why you get the symptoms and what you can do to treat them, you may not need to visit the naprapath as often. Only, when you don’t manage to keep it up yourself.
Why do you get pain in the body?
When it comes to pain in the body, almost regardless of where in the body the pain is, it’s most often about imbalances.
It can be a good idea to imagine the body as a tent.
It’s not always that the pain is located where the actually problem is. If you for example pull too much in the string on one side of the tent, you will have an effect on the other side of the tent.
Similarly, lower back pain can be caused of tension in the front side of the thighs and hip joints. It can be painful in the neck, if the chest- and shoulder muscles are working in imbalance.
Lower back pain
When it comes to the lower back, the cause is often short hip flexors. Which makes it difficult for the abdominals to function properly, and the glutes need to work harder to maintain the posture. Then there will be tension in the glutes, which can cause pain in the lower back. There will also be an increased tilt of the pelvis, which makes the joints in the lower back stressed.
When you feel stiff
The muscles can weaken from too hard work. And when the muscles are short, they will become weaker. When the muscles are pulling in both directions, front/back or up/down around a movement, they will also weaken.
If and when the glutes and abdominals aren’t strong enough to work correctly, you will lose the posture in the pelvis. This can cause issues all the way up in the neck and shoulders, but it can also cause issues with knees and hips.
A bad posture
If you are losing your posture, other muscle groups will help out in order to keep you up. This often results in other problems, because the smaller muscles don’t have the same capacity, like the glutes and the abdominals.
The importance of strong glutes and a good posture
The glutes and the abdominals are like the base of your posture, and positions the pelvis correctly in order for the rest of the body to function at its best.
When we are sitting a lot, the hip flexors will shorten, which puts the upper body into a forward leaning position when we are standing up because the spine is pulled forward as we lengthen the legs. Normally the abdominals assists the lower back to be in correct position. This is thanks to its shape and direction on the muscles, but the function of the abdominals is also to act as a support and hold everything in towards the spine.
When you’re standing, the glutes are working from the backside too
In order to get the body into stable gravity, the glutes are working from the backside as you’re standing up and support the pelvis to be aligned with the legs. The glutes are also active, together with the backside of the thighs, when you’re doing anything in a bent over position.
If you lose your posture in the lower back, this will be trouble some for muscles and joints. Just as when you perhaps also lose your posture in your upper back and shoulders.
You can imagine someone sitting a lot in front of the computer, or even clearer when someone is sitting with the mobile phone.
The entire spine is collapsed, the head is hanging in the neck in a forward leaning position, the shoulders are pushed forward and the arms are moved in towards the body.
The chest muscles, the muscles between your shoulder blades and rib cage as well as the throat muscles are getting shortened.
This can result in, that it’s difficult to be able to hold up the body in other situations and types of work. It can also result in pain in shoulders and arms, numbing hands, head ache and dizziness.
The posture during- and after a pregnancy
During a pregnancy all the joints are slightly softened, as part of the change in the body and increased load and childbirth. Short and tense muscles can during this time put even higher load on the joints when the stability has decreased in those. This can then result in pain in the pelvis and muscle pain already early in the pregnancy.
When the pregnancy is over and the body goes into the next stage, the body is put into quite large challenges. The softer joint structure starts to stabilize itself, and the posture needs to get back to its normal position, and the same time as the body maybe has extra kilos to carry or a child to carry. The extra kilos that you might have gained during the pregnancy, will hopefully disappear as you are breastfeeding, but it’s till important to get enough nutrition, vitamins and minerals. You need to have enough for your own recovery, as well as for the little life on your arm.
To help the body to get stabilized and strengthened up during this stage, is more important than many might think. During this time, the pelvis, the glutes and the abdominals create the important base to trust. When you’re standing and walking carrying children, it’s very easy to create habits that are creating imbalances. You might have a favorite arm to carry your child on, or a favorite hip to put your child on.
So, what do we do?
Foundational exercises to remind the body about the posture is key.
The deep abdominals, the pelvic floor and the glutes need help to get back into a good posture and back to a “non pregnant position”. It has been said that it takes approximately 2 years after you stopped breast feeding, for the body to get back to a normal hormone level (and then it’s not uncommon to have another baby).
Balance, strength and flexibility to be able to manage the additional load from carrying a baby and take care of a little one that is growing… needs just that: balance, strength and flexibilty.
Stretching should be done with care, but attentively, as the body perhaps isn’t stable enough for extensive stretching. Stretching and flexibility are needed however in order to maintain happy and flexible muscles, so that they will not get stuck in a short position.
To simply think “opposite”, may help. To not do the same exercises, not take the same route, not carry on only one side, but to create routines in daily life and even change side of the bed that you’re sleeping in.
Exercise with foam roller
A foam roller is a good accessory to use in combination with stretching. Just like a tennis ball or even a baseball to give yourself trigger point massage and pressure where the muscles are stiff and tensed. Do it carefully and allow the muscles to slowly release and soften.
If the muscle is really tensed, it can initially be painful. Then you need to have some patience, and you need to take it easy. If the pain doesn’t release immediately, it can help to massage the area around it. If the pain remains, contact a therapist.
Do you have any experience from treatments with a naprapath, or do you have any concerns with your posture? Or do you perhaps have any questions to Malin, the naprapath? Please post your comments below, or send me an email. Looking forward to hear from you.