Basics of postural alignment
Good posture can be described as the body’s ability to sit, walk, stand or lie in a position that places a minimal strain on supporting muscles, ligaments and joints during movement or activities. When posture suffers you may see a head being tilted forward, a chest depressed, round shoulders, a slouched back curve or the pelvis swaying forward. Whether poor posture is generic, activity or lifestyle-induced, massage can play a decisive role in relieving, managing or correcting misalignment. Deficiencies caused by poor sitting habits, stress, unsupportive shoes, being overweight or being physically inactive can be positively influenced by massage. A registered practitioner can create positive structural change in someone suffering from round shoulders or stiff hips. Massage can lengthen the chest and anterior shoulder muscles to allow the shoulder joint to sit in better alignment with the structures surrounding it – usually resulting in increased joint mobility.
Agility and posture
Agility improves performance in activities that require you to change direction quickly while keeping balance, strength, speed and body control. Agility is not just about the rate with which an individual can change course. But it’s also defined by the grace and fluidity of the movement. Many professional performers and sports people can aid their training with massage to help increase agility.
Mobility for disabled bodies
People with disabilities can develop severe distortions to the symmetry of the shape of their body. This, in turn, leads to permanent shortening of the muscles resulting in asymmetries. As these asymmetries become more pronounced, they can have significant consequences for a person’s health and wellbeing. They can result in severe and chronic pain typically associated with a twisted spine (scoliosis) or hip dislocation.
They can also have life-threatening consequences, such as difficulty swallowing and breathing and increased risk of chest infections. These knock-on effects have a significant impact on the individual, their family and carers, and the health service. For people with very substantial learning difficulties, telling someone about their pain is really problematic. It often means that other people have to assess their pain – in the case of children it is often their mothers who have to evaluate and manage it. A massage therapist can look at elements of postural alignment and try to help relieve pain by directing their attention to returning the patients body, as far as is possible, to a more mobile range.
Massage therapy has been proven beneficial for health and wellness, and research has confirmed it is useful for improving flexibility, reducing pain, improving sleep, as well as reducing anxiety and depression in the general population. These benefits also apply to those with physical and developmental disabilities.