Therapeutic Bodywork
Pain and Posture:
Restriction Release vs. Weight Training

Paul Norden, LMT, NCTMB

It's often thought that bad posture or "sleeping the wrong way in bed" is
the cause of pain and tightness in the back, neck and shoulders. However
what we consider improper posture more often is a result of tightness
and restriction in the back and neck rather than a cause of it. Tight and
restricted muscles in the back, neck and upper chest will cause the
shoulders and upper back to round forward, shifting the neck, head and
body’s center of gravity anterior and restricting range of motion.
See (Fig. 1)

Figure 1

Figure 2

When muscular restriction in the back, neck and upper chest is released,
the body’s center of gravity shifts posterior and the body naturally
assumes a more upright posture with little or no noticeable effort. (Fig. 2)

In order to correct shoulders that are rounded forward, weight training is often erroneously suggested in an attempt to strengthen the muscles in the back to shift the shoulders more posterior and open the chest. However, I’ve found that restrictions must be released first between the shoulder blades and in the upper chest using massage and structural release, then the posture that results may be assessed for weight or resisted strength training.