Getting all aspects of posture right can combat stress and anxiety as well as instill confidence

With many people feeling the pinch in today’s climate, stress levels and anxiety are an increasing problem, but knowing about good posture can be a very effective way of reducing these health issues.

FIFTEEN year-old Jasmine Rigg was born with Hypermobility, meaning her joints and ligaments are longer than normal, making her ankles roll over and movement very difficult without falling, and as a result, injuring herself.

She said: “I used to injure myself often because I had no control over my ankles, last year I broke both of them. I couldn’t do PE at school, but the teachers seemed to think I was making it up. I didn’t know why it was happening all the time so I got really anxious, which caused panic attacks. It really destroyed all my confidence and I couldn’t go out and dance or wear nice shoes.”

According to Jasmine’s mum, Mandy, doctors were unable to diagnose or help Jasmine over the years.

“Jasmine has had problems since she was very young, she was tripping and falling over more than normal compared to other children. Over the years I was always pushing the doctors to check what was wrong with her, but I got absolutely nowhere.

“Then when she was 14 she injured her shoulder and back and at this point I was at breaking point, I really couldn’t understand what was happening. I’ve also had back and knee problems and was regarded as what they used to call ‘double jointed,’ but the doctors and I never made the connection,” she said.

Mandy was referred to Camilla Murphy, osteopath, who was the first person to diagnose the condition and start to treat Jasmine, along with other members of the team.

She said: “There were an array of problems, but after a few sessions of osteopathy, she started to feel much more confident about her posture, as she began to understand her condition and how it affected her. She is also a keen musician so we assessed the position of her playing guitar and made some adjustments which helped her back and wrist pain.”

Daren Fletcher, osteopath, created some bespoke orthoses, which are insoles for the shoes and help the foot with mobility, support and positioning when standing and walking.

He said: “Good posture starts from the feet upwards, as the foot is the foundation of posture. Feet are forgotten about when people think of posture, but if we are not standing and walking efficiently, this will affect our knees, hips, back and even shoulder and neck.”

Jasmine was offered Pilates, to help strengthen her core muscles and help her gain better postural control and stabilise her lower back.

She can now play more sport, walk more easily and safely and has no more panic attacks.

She said: “Now I understand what was wrong I know what I can and can’t do and as a result actually do more. I can walk without falling over and get out and about. I feel much more confident. It’s changed my life basically.”

Daren and Camilla’s approach is about education and prevention, as well as treatment.

“Poor posture and tension around the body affects all aspects of our bodily systems, from digestion to blood pressure, as well as our respiratory system.

“Confidence is not just expressed through speech and verbal communication, it is also expressed through posture. Stress, or low self esteem, creates muscular tension, which then affects our posture. If we are aware about our posture and work towards maintaining it well, this can be an important part of reducing stress levels, and improving our self esteem and confidence levels,” said Daren.