You can't solve the problem of bent bones just by sitting up straight
A child's skeleton
deformed by Rickets due to vitamin D deficiency. The weakened spine has collapsed forwards due to the infants own body weight.
An adult skeleton
that has been deformed by poor nutrition during growth.
The spine is stooped,
disposing to neck and back aches, and the postural compression also disposes to chest and abdominal pains,
and the legs are bowed, which would dispose to additional problems
of pains in the hips, knees, and feet.
The theory and diagram are derived from an essay that was first published in June 1980
Sideways curvature of the spine) here
This website was established in about 1994, and the webcounter was added on 23-11-2001.
by Max Banfield ©
Now available as an eBook from Amazon.com here
A YouTube video on this Theory can now be seen here
This website is an introduction
to a 1000 page Australian book called "The Posture Theory" which brings a lot
of scattered, unco-ordinated, and diverse information into one
unifying source to cover every aspect of
posture and health.
Scoll in and out of the diagram to see how leaning forward to read and write repeatedly crushes the internal organs of the chest and abdomen in abnormal ways.
The six main aspects
1. Poor posture strains the spine to cause backaches.
2. Poor posture compresses the chest and ribs to cause chest pains (costochondritis). See here.
3. Poor posture compresses the chest and lungs to cause breathlessness.
4. Poor posture compresses the stomach to cause stomach pains.
5. Poor posture compresses the air in the chest and slows the flow of blood between the feet and brain to cause faintness.
6. The impairment to blood flow through the chest strains the blood vessels below the chest to produce a weakness in blood flow to the brain and cause fatigue (Orthostatic intolerance) See here.
The full description of the symptoms of poor posture here
The reason I wrote this theory
Before I became interested in medicine in 1975 there were many illnesses which were not evident on blood tests or x-rays, and were therefore unexplainable in conventional terms.
They were generally dismissed as the trivial or nonexistent problems of hypochondria, and regarded as having a psychological cause.
However, when I began looking for evidence of other possibilities I ultimately noticed that a lot of aches and pains, and illnesses had one thing in common, which was poor posture.
I later began collecting and recording a vast amount of relevant information which I have presented in a book and on this website.
It is perfectly logical for me to say that forward curvature of the spine places the weight of the head and shoulders in front of the spine, and strains the back muscles to cause back ache etc, and it is logical to say that pressure on the lungs affects breathing, and that pressure on the stomach affects digestion.
However, such ideas bring a lot of the old psychological theories into question, and as such, without intending to do so, I appear to have offended the supporters of those concepts, and I have a lot of critics who want the public to believe that I am a fringy kook, and that my ideas and theories are nonsense and rubbish.
My objective was to solve my own health problems and help other people as well, not to get embroiled in controversy.
It is up to readers to decide the merit of my ideas for themselves, and whether or not I was wasting my time trying to help.
The objective of the book was to raise public awareness of the relationship between posture and health
My 1000 page book called The Posture Theory provides parents, teachers and students with a knowledge of the harmful effects of poor posture so that they could prevent the adverse effects which occur in adulthood. Consequently I sold many of them to school and public libraries.
The Definition of the word Posture:
The word 'posture' in most common usage almost exclusively refers to the way a person sits or stands, and is generally termed 'good posture' or 'bad posture'.
Good posture is generally understood as standing with the head balanced effortlessly above the spine which is straight and vertical except for the slight natural curves in the lower back and neck. i.e. it has a slight S-shape. Such a posture is widely recognised as being associated with good appearance, good health, strength, athleticism, and stamina.
By contrast the term bad posture is most commonly used to describe the human position in which the head and shoulders are placed forward of the spine with the spine curved into an excessive S-shape, or a C-shape, and it is widely referred to as a slouched, or hunchback posture. Bad posture is commonly regarded as a poor appearance, and is associated with backaches of all types, poor health, poor breathing, tiredness, and ready fatigability. The posture theory examines all causes and all effects.© M.B. See also here.
A quick summary of The Posture Theory
Forward curvature of the spine places the weight of the head and shoulders forward and downwards, to strain the spine and dispose to backaches, and compress the chest to cause chest pains, and put pressure on the lungs and respiratory muscles to cause breathlessness, and compress the air in the chest to dispose to faintness, tiredness, and physical fatigue, and compress the stomach to cause stomach pain etc.
The same large range of symptoms occurred in nineteenth century women who wore tight waisted whalebone corsets which compressed the contents of the chest and abdomen from the outside inwards, and the same problems are often seen as the common complications of pregnancy and occur because the enlarging womb applies upward pressure on the contents of the abdomen and chest.
The common factor which causes those temporary or chronic ailments is mechanical pressure from above, from the side, or from below.
The Posture Theory is a very clear idea which explains many previously unexplainable combinations of symptoms.
The Posture Theory Website Index
The Posture Theory - an overview
Forward curvature of the upper spine places the head and shoulders forwards, where the individual would fall in that direction if it was not for the strain being taken by the spine and back muscles to prevent that, which, in the longer term, disposes to various backaches.
Such a posture in infancy can also put downward pressure on the chest disposing to chest wall deformities, such as flat or backward chest shape.
The forward posture places the weight of the head and shoulders over and above the chest, and puts downward pressure on the chest and ribs to cause a variety of musculoskeletal and other chest pains. They include what is now called.
The forward posture also places downward pressure on the lungs and respiratory muscles which disposes to various types breathlessness, and can affect their structure and breathing pattern to add to the aspect of breathlessness. Those types of breathlng problem have been called shallow breathing, and air hunger.
That posture also places pressure on the air in the chest to impair the flow of blood from the feet to the brain, and dispose to faintness. Over a period of years it can also affect the strength of the blood vessels below the chest, and possibly the pattern and regulation of blood flow, causing weak circulation to the brain which disposes to faintness and abnormal tiredness, and more generally, to an impaired capacity for physical exertion, where faintness, and other symptoms occur at higher levels of exercise. Those symptoms are now called Orthostatic intolerance and Chronic fatigue. See also here
Such a posture also places pressure on the stomach to cause stomach pains, indigestion, and poor digestion, which can impede growth. Those problems are called esophagitis and spasms of the colon.
The forward position of the head and shoulders also, in some chest shapes, puts downward pressure on the dagger shaped sternum, or breastbone, where the lower tip is pressed into the upper abdomen, to cause soreness or pain in that local area, and dispose to injury which would add the the problem.
The forward and downward pressure can also displace internal anatomy and dispose to aches and pains as a result of that secondary effect.
Such a physique also pushes the kidneys and adrenal glands forwards, resulting in congestion and symptoms related to those factors, and cause strain on the back in that area. It probably slows their draining, and makes the formation of kidney stones more likely.
The forward position of the weight of the head and shoulders also puts strain on the neck and throat, and disposes to neck ache, sore throat, and laryngitis, coughs, colds, and voice problems - hoarseness, and or, temporary voice loss. In the longer term it disposes to slipped discs and arthritis in the neck and lower back.
That posture also alters the angle between the head and neck which impedes the flow of air and fluids along the mouth, nasal passages, and Eustachian tubes, causing congestion in those structures, and it strains the jaw joint, disposing to jaw and facial pains, and it pushes the lower teeth forward against the upper teeth, or vice versa, disposing to dental and gum problems.
The symptoms are not likely to occur each and every time a person leans forward, but are the result of the repetitive, constant, or long term affects of that physique.
Regardless of any questions about the individual aspects of the theory, such a physique disposes to a large range and number of ailments in the manner which I have described.
Those problems can be prevented in the early development of children where the spine is pliable, in much the same way as such a curvature can be prevented in a young tree.
For my YouTube video on breathing see here. See also reference 73 by scrolling down here
YouTube Video on the health problems of the hunchback poet Alexander Pope here
YouTube Video on the cause of poor posture here and Part 2 here and Part 3 Unknown causes? here
YouTube Video on the cause and prevention of scoliosis (sideways curvature of the spine) here
See Posture Pals on YouTube here, and links here
An explanation of The Posture Theory diagram
© designed in 1980
The parts of the diagram
The Posture Theory diagram summarises an idea that took five years to develop (between 1975 and 1980) and it aims to give an instant, and reasonable understanding of the concept.
It depicts a man sitting at a desk and leaning forward to read.
The left side of the diagram contains straight dashed lines and a curved line which show the movements that occur when leaning forward, and the external pressures that are created.
The large dot in the middle represents the position just below the tip of the breastbone, and is like an axle about which the upper body rotates when the person leans forward and backward while slouched at the waist.
The lines inside the man are there to give an impression of the way mechanical pressure affects internal structures as he leans forward.
The column of words on the right side show the sort of symptoms that can result.
The angles of pressure
The vertical line in the middle represents a position parallel to the spine when the person is sitting upright. The next line to the left of it represents the distance that a particular individual leans his head and shoulders forward if he has a stooped spine or a slouch. The angle between the two lines is called the stoop angle.The next line represents the extra distance he would lean forward to get his eyes close enough to a page so that he could read the text. He will naturally sit up after he has read the text, and lean forward when he needs to read or write again, so it is called the angle of oscillation, i.e. the angle made as he repeatedly leans to and fro about that axis. The final line from the axis to a position in front of his feet is used to show how much relative pressure is created by leaning forward. It is an inverse angle because the worse a persons stoop, and the more they lean forward, the greater the pressure, and the smaller that angle will be. Another way of determining the amount of pressure could be to add the stoop angle and the angle of oscillation, in which case the larger the angle, the greater the pressure.
The list of symptoms in the diagram
The words to the right of the man in the diagram above show the various effects of postural pressure on the spine and internal organs, starting at the top with "distortion of sinus cavities and ducts". When the head is upright and the neck is vertical the air passes freely through the nose and down the windpipe. However any forward or backward bending of the neck alters the angles and pressures at the top of the throat and disposes to inflammations and swellings, and congestion of the ducts or tubes in that area, such as nasal congestion. The distortion is more pronounced when the neck is stooped forward, and the person lifts their head to talk to someone directly in front of them.
Similarly with the spine bent forward the neck pushes the lower jaw bone forward, which in turn pushes the lower teeth forward against the upper teeth which is a type of 'clenching' of the teeth that can cause deformities to the shape and position of the teeth, especially in growing children. It can also cause tenderness in the gums and strain on the jaw joint which may result in referred pains to parts of the face.
When the spine is stooped forward and the is head tilted up and back the extra bend in the neck puts abnormal pressure on the discs in the middle section of the neck, and strains the muscles, ligaments, and nerves in that area, which disposes to neck ache and possibly contributes to headaches. The middle bones of the neck also push forward which stretches and compresses the front of the throat, and disposes to tenderness or sore throat and colds. The forward and, or backward movement also affects the larynx or 'voice box', and can cause voice problems, as in hunchbacks who tend to talk in a husky fashion. That pressure can also affect other structures such as the Eustachian tubes which lead to the ears, and, the valve like junction which separates the foodpipe from the windpipe.
(You can slouch forward, and then move your own head forward and back to feel some of the effects temporarily for yourself, and try pushing your head all the way back until you can feel the pressure under the back of your head, and the stretching of your throat, and then push your chin down and back toward your neck until you can feel the pressures at the top of your throat. It won't become a problem unless you have a permanent stoop, or constantly sit in an unhealthy slouched position).
More obviously, when the shoulders are slumped forward they go over and above the chest causing the weight of the head and shoulders to press down on the cavity in the chest, which contains the heart, lungs and breathing muscles. The pressure on the heart can make the heartbeat more easily felt and dispose to palpitations, and pressure on the breathing muscles can cause them to cramp, and also impair the upward movement of the diaphragm so that the breathing requires more energy and is shallower and less efficient. The shallow breathing can cause a stagnation of some of the air in the lobes of the lungs and dispose to lung infections.
(You could gain some understanding of this by forcing yourself to do deep breaths while you are in a relaxed upright posture, and then when you are in a forced slouch, and feel the differences i.e. when you are sitting upright, and you inhale, your diaphragm will rise up into your chest and your chest will expand outwards, but when you are in a forced slouch your diaphragm will rise to your lower ribs and stop. You will then feel upwards and outwards pressure in that area, and your upper abdomen will expand outwards, but your chest won't move).
The pressure on the air in the chest can act like a tourniquet and impede the flow of blood from the feet to the heart, and through the chest to the brain to cause difficulty concentrating, or thinking, faintness, tiredness, and fatigue.
The forward movement of the head also pushes the weight of the shoulders over and above the twelve sets of ribs at the front of the chest.
That pressure puts strain on the structures between them, which become tender, especially between the lower ribs of the right side, but sometimes on the left and in other areas. The person may not be aware of any soreness unless they press on the tender spots with their fingers, or unless they get occasional sharp stabbing pains in those areas (like a pinched nerve).
The forward position of the shoulders can also dispose to mild or severe cramps in the muscles at the far left and right side of the chest.
Scroll on and out of this diagram
The chest also contains a breastbone in front, which has the shape of a broad dagger with a blunt tip. In people with flat chests who lean forward from the waist (instead of the hips) the broad part presses backwards and compress the heart, lungs, and air in the chest, which increases the effect of the downward pressure from the shoulders.
The tip of such a breastbone would also press into the general area where the foodpipe joins the stomach, which can affect the efficiency of the valve like structure between them and cause some backflow or reflux of stomach acid. The upward flow of acid can make the inside of the foodpipe sore and tender, and the pressure and irritation can cause spasm of the junction which is called esophogeal achalasia (more accurately a failure of that section to relax properly).The tip of the breastbone also stabs into the area of the solar plexus which is a bundle of nerves that controls many abdominal functions.
The forward leaning also pushes the lower ribs downwards to press on the colon which is a long tubular structure that carries food residue from the stomach to the rectum. A section of that tube goes up the left side of the abdomen, across the top, and down the right side. The lower ribs tend to press on the bends on the left and right side, and in other sections to impair the flow of material which disposes to irregularity, constipation, and spasm of the colon, and to blockage of the appendix and appendicitis, and to the formation of small pressure ruptures or pouches in the colon wall called diverticula, which may become infected to cause diverticulitis.
The rounded curve of the back also places strain on the muscles of the mid spine, and pressure on the kidneys which filter used blood to produce clean blood and urine. Pressure on the kidney can impede the blood flow and the filtering process and may be a cause of an excessive concentration of salts which results in kidney stones. Pressure on the adrenal glands which sit on top of the kidneys may contribute to unstable or high blood pressure and an irregular or excessive output of adrenalin, and general secondary irritability of the nervous system.
When sitting upright the weight of the head and chest is transferred evenly down the bones of the spine, but when leaning forward the muscles of the lower spine are stretched, and take some of the weight, which disposes to aching in the lower back.
Treatment: The most practical and effective way of relieving all of those symptoms, which I developed gradually over a period of thirty years, was to go from a sitting and writing position, to standing and typing at a computer, with the keyboard at waist height, and the screen at eye height, so that it isn't necessary to lean forwards. See here. Other practical and useful methods which I studied and used are discussed elsewhere on this website. e.g. see here M.B.
A reference for the measurements of pressure on internal cavities: On November 5th 1887 The New York Medical Journal included a study of scientific measurements of the pressure created on the internal anatomy by corsets and posture. Some relevant information can be seen by scrolling down to Figure 15 here
Female movie stars will often report how breathless and exhausted they were when wearing corsets as part of their role in movies about nineteenth century society, and they report how glad they were to get out of the corset so that they can breath properly again.
Some more experiments to test the effects of postural or other mechanical pressures on the human body:
You could try breathing while a belt is strapped tightly around your waist or chest, or your could try wearing a tie around
your neck which is extremely tight, or you could put a blood pressure cuff on your arm and pump it up with air until the flow of blood to your hand stops and you start feeling a sensation of pins and needles in your fingers, or you could apply a very tight garter, or a tight rubber strap around your leg. Prolonged use of leg garters can cause varicose veins.
As you can appreciate, if tight collars can block blood flow through the neck , and tight garters can block blood flow to and from the feet, then tight belts, girdles, or corsets around the waist can block blood flow between the feet and the brain, and postural pressure on the abdomen can have the same effect.
When doing the experiments described in this essay, bear in mind that the effects will vary from person to person because the shape of the spine and the shape of the chest will determine the angles of pressure and the effect on your body. Such differences are discussed in more detali in other parts of this website.
Types of posture ©
1. Good posture involves an upright spine with slight natural forward curves in the neck and lower spine, and broad and straight shoulders. Significant increases in the curves or other changes in shape are listed below.
2 . Poor posture is the term used to describe an abnormal forward curve in the upper spine due to slouching while standing, and a C-shaped curve along the entire spine which can be seen from the side when a person slouches forward in the sitting position. Hence it is often referred to as the slouched posture.
3 . Kyphosis is a more extreme forward curvature of the upper spine and is due to an abnormality in the structure of the spine and is generally referred to as the hunchback posture. It is usually accompanied by a corresponding forward curve in the lower spine so that it looks like a reverse S-shape when seen from the side.
4 . Scoliosis is the medical term for sideways curvature of the spine which usually results from a person using one hand to do most of their tasks because most people are either left or right handed. it can also result from one leg being longer than the other. See a scoliosis X-ray here
5 . Lordosis is an excessive forward curve in the lower spine and is usually associated with a hunchback posture. Common causes are obesity or pregnancy where the weight of the abdomen drags the lower spine forward.
6 .Swayback is the backward curvature of the lower spine
7 . Flatback is where the normal slight curves of the spine are not present and the back is abnormally straight.
8 . Kypholordosis is the combined abnormality of a forward stoop in the upper spine (kyphosis), and a forward curvature of the spine (lordosis), and usually occurs because the stoop puts the weight of the persons head in front of the centre of gravity with a tendency to fall forwards, so the instinctively push their lower spine forward to restore the centre of gravity and maintain a counterbalance upright position. A side view of the body shows a spinal colum with an S-shape.
9 .Kyphoscoliosis the combination of a forward curvature of the upper spine (kyphosis), and a sideways curvature (scoliosis), where multiple abnormalities commonly occur because they may be due to poor nutrition which weakens the bones or muscles, and affects every part of the human skeleton in a variety of ways.
10 . Kyphocostosis is the combination of forward curvature of the upper spine (kyphosis), and deformities of the rib cage (costosis) which involves abnormalities of the chest, such as one that is abnormally flat and shallow, or deep and barrel shaped.
11. Neck stoop can be seen from the side view in a person with a deep chest where the rib cage forms a triangular structure which prevents the spine from collapsing into a C-shape, so it remains straight, but the neck bends sharply forwards.
This information was first posted on 1-1-11 and most of it is derived from my book published between 1994 and 2000
Diagnosis of postural problems ©
The following suggestions give a concise summary of how to diagnose the different types of posture abnormalities.
Most people have mild postural problems but are not aware of them because they generally only see themselves from the front view in the mirror, but, for example, the forward slouch is only obvious when viewed from the side.
1. Forward curvature of the upper spine can be identified by looking at the way a shirt or a coat hangs on the shoulders. If the person is sitting with an upright spine the shirt will hang flat. However if they have a slouch or a stoop the cloth may be wrinkled into folds. The forward curve can then be seen by looking at the person from the side view. Another clue can be seen in their tendency to support their head by having their elbow on a table, and their hand on their chin. They will also look smaller when sitting slumped in a chair, compared to people of the same height who sit upright. If you look at them from the side view the curvature in the upper spine will be obvious.
2. Sideways curvature of the spine can be identified by looking at the person from the front view and noticing that one shoulder is lower than the other. Also the highest shoulder will be parallel to the ground, whereas the lower shoulder will be angled downwards. The persons shirt collar will be lower on one side, and their clothes such as their coat will hang lower on one side. If they take their shirt off you will be able to see that one collar bone is lower than the other, and slopes downwards, and if you feel their Sternum bone from top to bottom well notice that it is tilted sideways. If the person is viewed from behind in the sitting position while they are leaning forward with their elbows on their knees, one side of the shoulder will look normal, but the other side will roll significantly downwards at an angle that can be easily seen to be abnormal.
3. Lordosis is usually easy to identify by the cause. For example, if a woman is pregnant and the womb is large, her belly will be heavy and protruding forward, so the forward curve of the lower spine will exist and can be easily seen from the side view. Similarly an overweight or obese person will probably have a heavy belly which drags the lower spine forward. Also if there is a forward curvature of the lower spine from other causes it will push the abdomen forward to produce a pot bellied appearance.
4. Flatback can be seen from the side where it looks as if the person has a steel rod for a spine, rather than a series of vertebrae that form a slight natural S-shape.
5. Kypholordosis is forward curvature of the upper spine with a corresponding forward curve in the lower spine which often involves chest abnormalities as well, and leaves a crease line across the skin of the abdomen just below the ribs, and the person will appear to have a small pot belly. When viewed from the side the spine has an S-shape.
This information was first posted on 1-1-11 and most of it is derived from my book published between 1994 and 2000
See also posture assessment charts or grids on this video here
prevention and treatment of posture related problems
Prevention is better than cure
a person stands upright their body weight is directed down the
spine which has evolved to bear the load without trouble or effort.
However, if the person leans forward their centre of gravity
is thrown forward from the spine, so the weight of the upper
body is transferred to the front of the chest and abdomen, and
the strain of maintaining position is taken by the skeletal muscles.
Those temporary changes do not affect a persons health, but if
the spine becomes permanently stooped, they can cause a multitude
of chest and stomach pains, and many other health problems. Most of the problems can be prevented
or treated so I have provided that information below.
Poor posture is unlikely to cause problems
such as back pain in the first few years of life, but it can have a more serious effect if it gradually changes the shape of the spine and
becomes permanent as the child develops into adult hood. Knowing
how to prevent the problem is also useful at any stage in relieving
or managing the secondary symptoms.
Poor nutrition affects the strength of
the muscles and bones that support the human posture, so good
nutrition is important. Similarly any infectious illness that
results in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, and weight
loss can weaken muscles and bones so they should be guarded against,
and recovery from them should include the appropriate type of exercise to regain strength as soon as possible, especially during
Other preventive measures include sleeping
on bedding that is flat and has the degree of firmness that allows
the natural slightly S-shaped curve of the spine to be maintained.
e.g. not so hard that the spine is kept too straight, and not
so soft that it sags like a hammock. Many bedding companies provide
advice on such requirements.
It is important to use appropriate seating for the persons size. The height should be such that the feet
can be placed flat on the floor for support. The length of the
chair should be in proportion to the length of the thigh so that
the lower back is not dragged forward into a curve, and the back
rest of the chair should be slightly inclined backwards, and
have a slight curve in the mid to lower back area to support
that natural slight curve in the lower spine.
The angled platform of a seventeenth century scribe would reduce the need to lean forward, but note the man's stooped shoulders.
That my be related to the fact that he couldn't move his knees forward, so his lower spine was positioned away from the bench.
When sitting at a desk it should be at
a height that the person does not have to lean forward to read,
and if the person does lean, they should do so from the hips
and not the waist. Writing requires the use of one hand and movements
to the left and right side of the page which twists the spine
and breastbone, so it is preferable to use computer keyboards
which require both hands equally and do not result in twisting
the spine. The keyboard and mouse should be level with the forearm
when it is parallel to the ground so as not to bend the wrist
which can interfere with blood supply to the hand. The computer
screen should be at eye height. In general any activity that
requires leaning toward a desk should be avoided, but ordinary
sitting without leaning forward is not such a problem. If it
is the person can use a properly designed recliner chair to rest in and relieve some of the aches that result from postural strains
during the day.
For an illustration about computer posture from another website see here
Children who carry heavy school books to
and from school in satchels or kit bags may develop sideways
curvature of the spine, so they should avoid carrying unnecessarily
heavy books, and put them in knapsacks on their backs instead.
Similarly, having one leg longer than the other can cause sideways
curvature of the spine, but that can be remedied by the use of shoe inserts, and some practitioners specialise in that aspect,
and, in some cases orthopedic surgeons can lengthen the short
leg. Women should avoid wearing high heel shoes because they
lift the heel, and tilt the hip bone, and push the abdomen forward,
and curve the upper spine into a stoop. If they still want to
wear them they should consider that occasional use in social
situations is better than wearing them all the time.
There are numerous other methods, but it
is also important to know what normal posture is, and what defects
you may have. This can be assessed by looking sideways into a
mirror to determine if the spine is abnormally stooped or S-shaped,
and by looking front on to see if one shoulder is lower than
the other, indicating sideways curvature of the spine.
Throughout history there have been many
observations about the harmful effects of poor posture and many
methods have been devised to relieve the problems. The most obvious
is Yoga, but there are others such as chiropractic and osteopathy,
and more recently the Alexander Technique which partly involves
raising the head so that the spine straightens out, and then
finding a position of balance where the head is directly above
the spine and feet so that good posture can be maintained by
balance, rather than by straining the muscles to stop the body
from falling forward or backwards. Physiotherapists now incorporate
some of those methods in their practice, and if deformity is
severe it can sometimes be treated by orthopedic surgeons.
Education about the benefits of good posture is perhaps the most important.
Some notes on using braces and straps to correct postural problems
Braces are not a practical treatment for spinal deformities because they can't correct the curve and can weaken the musculature.
Reference: The Specialties in General Practice (1951) p.72-74.
My comment: There are a number of problems associated with wearing spinal straps or braces to straighten the spine. Firstly some people will have other injuries and pains caused by their poor posture, and the brace can make them worse. Secondly wearing them supports the spine, so the spinal muscles don't have to carry the weight of the body and will therefore weaken due to lack of use.
Nevertheless, some people might find them an advantage. Perhaps wearing them occasionally to 'train' the person to adopt a particular posture may be beneficial. For example, in young people with pliable spines, if the brace is worn for a few hours a day, it might gradually straighten the bones, and if they then remove the brace, but maintain that general posture with their musculature for the remainder of the day they may gain some effective improvement in spinal shape without losing muscle tone, and consequently avoid having the problem return. However, it is not something for me to comment on other than that. The Alexander Technique is another way to improve posture, and shoe inserts etc. can correct spinal curvatures which are due to having one leg shorter than the other, or to deal with spinal problems associated with abnormalities of the feet. Other methods such as yoga, osteopathy, and physiotherapy etc. are available.
In general terms - the treatment needs to be tailored to each patient, and what works for one might not be effective in another, and prevention and early treatment are the best options.
The importance of early treatment and correction of postural deformities
"It is important that this treatment should begin as soon as possible; if a curvature is allowed to persist for some time the shape of the bones may alter and there can then be little hope of correcting the deformity." Reference: The Illustrated Family Doctor, 1935, page 620.
People who attribute poor posture to a bad habit, or to psychological factors such as anxiety, or depression, are essentially "blaming the victim" for the failure of treatment. Many treatments may have the best of intentions, and may have some useful benefit, but they can't and won't change the shape of the bones of the spine, which is the real cause of the persistent stoop. It is not ethical for adults to be blaming small children for problems which should have been prevented and treated early. Poor posture is a purely physical problem that needs to be studied and treated as such. Psychological problems may or may not be involved in individual cases but are essentially irrelevant and should be treated as a completely separate issue but only if they exist as an accompanying or purely coincidental aspect.
Some notes on education
1. Charles Darwin once said that the human body is covered by a layer of skin and hence the average man knows no more about it's inner workings than he does about the inside of a ship, and a nineteenth century
physician said that only the anatomist knows the horrendous effects that corsets have on distorting the shape of internal organs.
Of course, an anatomist slices open the skin and looks inside,
and could see that, in some cases, the spleen had been pushed
from the top left of the abdomen to below the navel, and the
liver had been split almost in two, and the woman would be complaining
about horrendous aches and pains, and the corset industry would
argue that corsets were not the cause because the woman still
had a spleen and still had a liver???? The corset industry lost
2. Most people are not aware of the effect poor posture has on internal anatomy, and won't unless they are educated about the topic
3.. When you look
at the sky with your eyes it looks as though the sun rises in
the morning and goes down at night. If you use your brains it
4.. Never judge
a man until you have walked in his shoes. There may be a few
tacks that are digging into his flesh and bones with every step
that he takes, but his shoes may look as comfortable as lounge
The Alexander Technique
Foot and posture treatment: Rothbart's foot
Braces and straps: PostureJac
Surgery: YouTube video on the surgical correction of stooped and sideways curvature of the spine here
For an interesting video on posture improvement principles see here
The causes of poor posture
As a general rule medical conditions cannot be prevented or treated effectively unless the correct cause is known, and as the old saying goes "prevention is better than cure".
While I was looking for the causes of spinal deformities I often found these comments in medical books.
Hunchback is associated with sideways curvature of the spine where it may be due to polio, tuberculosis of the spine, or in old age osteoporosis. However, in three quarters of cases the cause is unknown . Reference The Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of Family Health (1988).
In 85% of cases of scoliosis (sideways curvature of the spine) the cause is obscure. Of the remainder 10% follow poliomyelitis, 2% due to VonRecklinghausen's disease or neurofibromatosis, and less than 2% are due to congenital bone disorders in the spine, osteochondrodystrophy, Freidreic's ataxia, cerebral palsy, and some muscular dystrophies, Also less than 2% follow empyema, thoracoplasty, or any other factors which change the chest shape during the growth period.
95% of cases are girls, usually starting at the age of 10, although occasionally earlier, and increasing gradually to the age of 15, and the degree of curve does not increase after the age of 15. There is still considerable controversy in the whole field of scoliosis.
Reference: The Specialties in General Practice (1951) p.72-74.
Consequently while I was studying the subject I was looking for and identifying the other 85% of cases, the majority of which are generally due to long term biomechanical factors, and can be seen in the list below .
Corset Design Stoop
In previous centuries women have changed the shape of their bodies by wearing corsets.
In fact, the manufacturers of corsets designed them to produce a particular shape to suit the fashion of the time. While they were known to be tight at the waist (e.g. to produce the hour glass shape), they were also designed to alter the shape of the spine in specific ways. Some mothers provided them for their children to wear from an early age, where they were referred to as training corsets - to train the body to gradually take on that permanent shape by adulthood.
Diagram Reference: The Analysis Of Beauty (1739
A list of 25 causes of poor posture
Banfield's posture axiom: There are many causes of poor posture, not just one, and many health problems caused by poor posture, not just backache
I once had a fish aquarium in which I kept small fish called guppies. They had a long narrow body, but when the females became pregnant in the first year their belly bulged downwards in the front half. They gave birth to about a dozen small fish each. However when they became pregnant in later years their belly would bulge to almost twice that size and they would develop an upturned V-shaped bend in the middle of their spine and swim about in an awkward manner. They would soon give birth to many dozens of small fish, and their bellies would return to their normal size, but the upturned V-shape in their spine remained as a permanent feature, and they continued to swim in an awkward manner. I have since noticed that women develop spinal curvatures during pregnancy, more so when having twins or triplets, and have discussed that on this list below as the Pregnancy Stoop. See also an article on the genetic factors and the spinal deformity of guppies here.
Spinal problems can also occur when people try to develop different features in animals. For example the dachshund is also called a sausage dog because of it's long narrow body and short legs. Some breeders like to produce offspring which have longer bodies than normal, but that results in the middle of the back sagging downwards particularly if the dog is overfed and becomes obese. Ultimately that deformity can lead to arthritis of the spine and back injuries.
Rickets caused by a deficiency
of calcium and Vitamin D in the diet, or the lack of exposure to sunlight. (Vitamin D is produced by the skin when exposed to sunlight). See here
An alternative label for the one which I invented and defined called "nutritional kyphosis" which is based on my assessment of the cause of my own skeletal and spinal abnormalities. See here.
Bed shape posture
Individuals sleep on beds for 8 hours or more per night, and as such the shape of the spine is likely to take on the shape of the bedding, particularly in the growing years of childhood when the bones are pliable.
A mattress which is too hard is likely to flatten out the natural slight curves of the spine and may sometimes be responsible for back pain when the person wakes up in the morning. Similarly sleeping with the head resting on pillows which are too hard may cause an abnormal curvature in the neck, and or, the person to wake up with neck ache.
The hammock shape may produce a C-shaped spine.
Orthopedic bedding and mattresses which are designed to be flat and soft enough to absorb the weight of the head, shoulders, and hips, is more likely to retain the natural and proper shape, and prevent or relieve backaches.
|Chair shape posture
Sitting in chairs which are the wrong shape, or are too straight at the back are likely to cause the spine to become abnormally straight, or to cause the head and shoulders to fall forward and result in slouching and spinal curvatures, where as properly designed chairs can retain the natural shape of the spine. See here
Chest shape stoop
A deep chest has a triangular shape when viewed from the side, and the ribs provide geometric and structural support for the spine in a manner which keeps it straight. However a flat or funnel shaped chest does not provide as much resistance to forward movement so it is likely to collapse into a stoop in response to forward pressures, particularly those on the upper spine.
Congenital dislocation of the hip can cause forward curvature of the upper spine (kyphosis).
Corset Design Stoop
The shape of the corset especially
one which is worn on a regular basis during childhood for the purpose of permanently
changing the shape of the waist and the spine to suit the fashion
of the period.
Vitamin D deficiency of rickets
due to a lack of exposure to sunshine during childhood etc..
Repeated and sustained stooping
which is an aspect of a persons occupation. (As in the case of
former dentists, who, before the invention of height adjustable
dental chairs, had to lean forward to extract teeth from patients) See also here
Many people who don't pay any attention to detail, and who haven't studied the cause of postural deformity properly will see someone slumped over, and assume that their postural problems were caused by laziness, a bad habit of sitting and standing, or sadness. However, such factors are probably less than 5% of actual cases. It is also more likely that because of their poor posture they develop health problems which make their lives more difficult, so that the psychological factors are the result of their spinal deformity rather than the cause.
Flat foot stoop
Also called the shoe stoop
Any abnormality in the shape of the foot will affect the shape of the spine, including the deformity known as flatfoot.
The advantage of running barefoot rather than wearing shoes has been described by Harvard professor Daniel Lieberman who has consequently been called the barefoot professor.
He says that the primitive tribes people of the past had healthy feet because the front pads of their feet hit the ground first and had a cushioning effect where some of the force was taken by the rotational movement from the front pads to the heel pads, which prevented foot and spinal damage.
He further explained that when people wear shoes, the heel of the foot hits the ground first and sends pressure straight up the spine.
Furthermore, modern shoes generally have a curve in the mid shoe area which gives artificial support for the arch of the foot so that the relevant muscles don't get any exercise. Consequently the arch of the foot tends to become weak and collapse causing a condition known as flat foot, as well as the foot pain and other problems associated with it. He adds that modern shoe manufacturers advertise the benefits of sports shoes, but don't mention the problems they cause.
From the TV show called "In Focus", Channel 44, Adelaide, 11-3-13. See also here and a YouTube video here, and the feet and evolution here.
In my own observation, other aspects of shoes cause problems such as the main one - LSE, and the LTF, and EPD etc. See my report on posture and evolution here.
Foot Deformity Stoop
Spinal deformity that results from deformities
of the feet which alter the bodies centre of gravity, and requires a change in posture to maintain balance. See here
Those changes in posture are due to an automatic reflex. The postural problem may also be remedied with shoe inserts or orthopedic shoes designed to counteract the foot deformity.
Abnormal foot structures include, Rothbart's foot, Structural Flat Foot, Peasant Foot, Egyptian Foot, Greek Foot (also known as Morton’s Foot), and Simian Foot. The different types can be seen in the photos here.
You can also test your foot-brain connection by sitting at a desk and lifting your right foot off the floor and moving it in clockwise circles. If you then draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand your foot will change direction.
For more information see here and here and here and here.
See also; this video on foot deformity and posture here
See also here
Heavy breasts stoop
Large and heavy breasts move a woman's centre of gravity forwards and can be a cause of stooped posture in some women.
A stoop which is inherited from the parents. Also called Genetic stoop. e.g. Neurofibromatosis (also called Recklinghausen disease) can cause scoliosis (sideways curvature of the spine). See here and here. and Progressive infantile scoliosis video here and webpages here and here
An injury to the spine or any other part
of the skeleton which sets the bones in an abnormal position
and alters the bodies centre of gravity.
Kit bag Stoop
Carrying a kit bag full of heavy books
to and from school every day which results in the gradual development
of forward and sideways curvature of the spine. See also here
Poor diet which results in
a loss of muscle tone and body bulk causing the spine to slump
Neck stoop can be seen from the side view in a person with a deep chest where the rib cage forms a triangular structure which prevents the spine from collapsing into a C-shape, so it remains straight, but the neck bends sharply forwards.
A large and heavy belly which
drags the lower spine forwards, where the upper spine stoops
to counterbalance the effect.
Old Man's Stoop
A visual defect in childhood
which necessitates repeated and sustained leaning forward to
Pott's disease i.e. tuberculosis
of the spine, where an infection of a vertebrae causes the spine
The forward displacement of
the abdomen which drags the lower spine forward due to the weight
of the pregnant womb, and where the upper spine falls forward
to counterbalance the alteration to the centre of gravity. The spinal shape continues to alter as pregnancy advances and the weight of the womb increases, more so if the woman is carrying twins or triplets, and in some cases the changes persist after giving birth.
Rice Farmers Stoop
The stooped spine seen in old rice farmers who have spent most of their lives bending forward to tend to their rice crops. See here
Shoulder Binding Stoop
Permanent Strapping around the shoulders which
was designed to create a hunchback physique which was fashionable
in some seventeent century tribespeople.
(also called Scoliosis)
Sideways curvature of the spine due to having one leg shorter than the other, or to carrying a heavy kit bag or satchel to school or work, especially during periods of poor nutrition or illness when young and the bones are pliable. The hunchback poet Alexander Pope had one leg shorter than the other and sideways curvature of the spine. See also the videos here and webpages hereditary progressive infantile scoliosis here and here
The tendency to slouch in childhood
because the child feels relaxed and comfortable in the slouched
position and because the attempt to sit upright causes discomfort
and strain on the spinal muscles, especially where there is a
mild pre-existing spinal deformity due to other causes.
The wearing of high heel shoes which
throw the hips forward, the shoulders backwards, and the head
forwards as a counterbalance.
(The altered posture throws the woman off balance, and makes her walk with a an awkward gait, which disposes to falls. The long narrow heels also tend to sink in mud, and the narrow surface at the base gives less grip on the ground and disposes to slipping on many surfaces, and tripping over small stones etc.)
Women have been wearing high heel shoes for many centuries for reasons of fashion, to make their legs look longer and more attractive. The extra height also gives them the sense of power and the image of authority.
See also an item about the change to foot/posture mechanics of rocker shoes here.
Tall Boy's Stoop
The rapid growth of the spine
during childhood where the tall child also has to customarily
stoop forward to read at a small desk, or to talk to smaller
Women can develop poor posture for a variety of reasons such as by wearing high heel shoes which tilt the lower spine forward and produce a counterbalancing forward stoop in the upper spine. Similarly large breasts can be heavy and drag the upper spine forward and downward. The pregnant woman can develop poor posture as the result of having a large and heavy womb which drags the lower spine forward, and produces a counterbalancing stoop in the upper spine. Also osteoporosis can weaken the strength of bones, and cause the upper spine to fall forward under the weight of the head and shoulders (called Dowagers hump). See also here and here Also see a recent well written account of women's posture here
A prolonged Viral infections in
childhood where there is a loss of apetite, muscle tone, and
body bulk, which causes the upper spine to bend under the weight
of the body.
||YouTube Videso on the causes of poor posture here and Part 2 here
an alternative name for Nutritional kyphosis
When I was 25 years old I began to read the scientific medical literature myself because my doctor was unable to determine the cause of my many and varied health problems. Over the next few years I was able to determine that my poor posture was the cause of all of them.
As you would expect, when I was young my parents and friends would occasionally tell me that I had poor posture, and to stop leaning on my elbows at the kitchen table and sit up straight. However, I didn't know exactly what they were talking about because, like most people, I always looked in the mirror at the front view to check my physique and couldn't see anything abnormal. Furthermore, on those few occasions when I asked my own doctor if my posture was the cause of my health problems he would say that they were not.
I had a lot of respect for doctors in general, and for my own doctor in particular, and took his opinion more seriously than anyone else.
Nevertheless my detailed study of my own ailments provided clear evidence that that my posture was the cause.
When I was reading the medical literature the general scientific assessment was that 15% was known and 85% was a mystery.
The accepted opinion was that 15% were verifiable on scientific assessment by microscopes and x-rays and genetic factors (people were born with spinal abnormalities), and injuries, such as car accidents, and diseases such as tuberculosis of the spine.
The remaining 85% were deemed to be unknown and unscientifically provable mysteries, with suggestions that laziness, slouching, poor postural habits, and the slouched posture of depressed people, and other psychological factors were the cause.
However, in my case it was simply not possible for laziness to be the cause because I would get up at 7 a.m. and jog along the beach before working for 8 hours a day as a clerk, and then spend five hours teaching gymnastics at night. By contrast many healthy people were unemployed and couch potatoes who sat at home all night watching television.
As far as slouching was concerned it was simply a fact that all I was doing was sitting in the natural position that you would expect from a person whose spinal bones were curved forward.
Furthermore, it was not possible for psychological factors to be the cause because I was a generally confident and happy child who was interested in many things and almost every one I met became my friends.
I therefore needed to know how I had developed a stooped physique.
While searching through some old photos I could see that at the age of four I had an excellent physique and a straight spine, and at the age of seven I was thin and stooped, so I thought about what happened in between. I knew that at the age of six I had hepatitis which would have involve many months of nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and poor appetite that would have reduced my food intake, and caused nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin D and calcium. Those dietary deficiencies would have caused my skeletal bones to soften and my spine to collapse under the weight of my own body, so I had established the actual reason for my kyphosis with logical certainty by the time I was about 32 years old.
I then began telling as many people as possible how important it was to develop good posture in children in order to ensure good health in adulthood.
I joined Wikipedia about 25 years later and invented the label of "Nutritional Kyphosis" to use as a section heading on a page about posture called the "Kyphosis", and then defined the cause, and used my own website and conclusions as a reference.
An anonymous editor had been criticising and insulting me for several months and followed me to every page where I had made contributions and made sure that anything which had not been deleted by other editors was removed.
Nevertheless the section called "Nutritional Kyphosis" which is the label that I invented and added on 26th November 2007 remains, and is still there more than four years later on 26th September2012 here, with my definition. It has since been copied by many authors onto many other websites. e.g. here.
Two of Wikipedia's editors tried their hardest to portray me as a worthless, insignificant, non-notable fringy kook who was adding nonsense and crap to Wikipedia.
I would like intelligent and respectable people to show their appreciation of my research and the value of my conclusions by banning those two anonymous individuals from Wikipedia, the internet,and the print media.
In order to identify the correct cause of the problem I would like to give an alternative label to Nutritional Kyphosis, which is "Banfield's Kyphosis".
According to the rules of Wikipedia the source of each item of information needs to be provided here, and so I invite intelligent and respectable editors to show their gratitude to me by adding it. The source is here.
The changes are happening
Note that it is a common fallacy to assume that anything about the human body which isn't known must be all in the mind, or caused by psychological rather than physical factors. Furthermore, the method of treating such problems are not as simple as sitting up straight and thinking positive because you can't straighten bent bones,
In that regard, without intending to do so, I have proven a lot of very popular ideas wrong, and many people appear to resent me for that, or are trying to protect the old ideas, or to deny that I developed the new ones. Also, very few people are willing to support me, but the changes in public attitude are happening.
The main causes of poor posture ©
The Banfield Principles of Posture Development
Leaning forward once is not going to cause spinal deformity because the body will simply return to it's original shape immediately afterwards. The process involves a combination of factors which include . . .
1. The pliability of the young spine, including during the teen years of rapid growth.
2. Nutritional deficiencies which weaken the spine (due to poor diet, or infectious illnesses that result in nausea, vomiting, and poor appetite etc)
3. Mechanical forces on the spine
4. The duration of the mechanical forces (e.g. Carrying heavy weights with one arm, such as a kit bag full of school books for half a mile or more, to and from school, morning and afternoon for the school years (from the age of 5 to 15 i.e. for up to ten years).The Banfield Principles of Posture development
The main causes of poor posture are indicated above and include any mechanical forces applied to the spine by such things as corsets or binding straps or belts, and obesity and pregnancy where there is a large and heavy belly dragging the lower spine forwards, or frequently carrying a heavy school bag in one arm, or where the spine is responding to the constant forces associated with having foot deformities, or one leg longer than the other.
The next factor is poor nutrition such as lack of calcium or vitamin D in the diet, or lack of sunshine which is needed for the bodies production of vitamin D. Infectious illnesses which involve reduced appetite, nausea and vomiting can deplete the body of nutrients. The age of the person is also related because a young persons spine is more pliable, and more easily deformed than an adults, and old age can, in some cases, include the added influence of osteoporosis.
The next is the way a person sits or stands, not so when they are passively relaxing in a slouch, but more so when there are forces involved in that position such as constantly leaning forward in awkward angles to a desk where the chair, desk, or computer screen have a shape or height which makes those positions strain various parts of the spine and 'force' them into a curve.
The next is spinal injuries or spinal diseases such as tuberculosis of the spine which cause a section of the spine to collapse in a bend or a curve.
As in many diseases it is often the combination of factors which makes a mild influence a major one, and poor nutrition, disease, injury, wearing restricting garments or belts, and sitting or bending constantly or repeatedly in particular positions is more likely to produce spinal deformities than any one factor alone. M.B.
Poor posture and health - The cause or effect question
The effect on the economy of nations
The main purpose of my 1000 page book, now available as an eBook, was to show the harmful effects of poor posture on health, and how important it is to prevent and treat the problem in children. See here.
I sold many of my books called "The Posture Theory", to schools, because it is much easier to monitor, prevent and reverse spinal deformities when children are young, and their bones are pliable, than it is to live with, manage, or treat the predictable health problems which will inevitably follow as they reach adulthood, and grow older.
That fact has been known since the 1930's, and is evident from the life-story of the hunchback poet Alexander Pope here.
It is also evident by a casual look at all of the successful people in industry, academia, and politics. You will notice that their spines are mostly straight, their shoulders are broad, and their chests are deep, so there is no pressure on their abdomen to impair their digestion or stunt their growth, and their is no pressure on their heart and lungs to impede their breathing and stamina, and as Plato said, they are the ones who achieve success in all facets of life.
It is also evident that people with spinal deformity will become more stooped with age, and those with straight spines will develop deeper chests.
Many sensible people accept those facts, and most people who I discuss these things with agree with me, and some take it for granted, as if it is 'obvious', but some reject the general idea on the grounds that it is unprovable, and shed doubt on that obvious fact, by arguing that the idea is not 'scientific'.
They should be held responsible for the fact that many children will continue to grow up and become sickly and miserable adults.
The costs of prevention are trivial compared to the cost of treatment, and loss of manpower to national economies, which is massive.
I recommend that the treasurers of international political parties consider that fact, more than their efforts in saving costs, after the damage to the health and well being of individuals has been done.
There are many children now between the age of four and seven, who have spinal abnormalities. It is quite irresponsible and unethical to do nothing about that, and then argue n thirty years from now that there health problems are there own fault, and are trivial, or due to laziness, fear and mental illness.
Photo from The Nervous Child 4th edition (1930) plate
The child was described as having a postural defect with Lordosis
and "had been sleepless, irritable, and easily exhausted
from early infancy".
My review of a book from the 1930's
While I was writing my book called The Posture Theory I found an earlier publication from 1930 which discussed the relationship between poor posture and symptoms in children, and the consequences of not treating the postural defect when the child reaches adulthood. It was called "The Nervous Child", and I reviewed it in the 11th edition of my book on pages 101 and 251, and have given another summary below.
The author of that 1930's book proposed that nervousness weakened the
antigravity muscles of the spine which in turn caused poor posture.
However he also made the observation that the exercise programmes provided to army recruits improved their posture which in turn
improved their health and temperament. (i.e. that improving their
posture made them calmer. Therefore it is poor posture which
causes nervousness, and not nervousness which causes poor posture M.B.).
This is another quote from that book . . . "The stance of the nervous child may be described as the opposite of that which the drill sergeant inculcates so vigorously
in the recruit".
The curative posture in drill results in improved health
Curvature of the upper spine often results in a counterbalancing
forward arching of the lower spine which is called lordosis which
according to the author of that book, pushes the abdomen forward
and causes the chest to recede. This physique tends to produce
symptoms of restlessness, irritability and fidgeting, digestive disturbances disturbances, and appendicitis. It is also commonly associated
with sore throats, and proneness to colds and tonsillitis
There is also an alteration in the circulation of blood which
results in paleness of the skin, alterations in skin temperature in relation to exertion, and a tendency to faintness, breathlessness,
palpitations, and motion sickness, which are very commonly encountered with children who have this physique.
He adds . . . "If we encounter these children, so nervous,
so excitable, so easily exhausted, with their faulty posture
and unstable circulatory reactions and describe them solely with
the eye of a cardiologist, we shall describe them as suffering
from "cardiovascular asthenia" or the "effort syndrome". . . and . . . he observes that such children
were likely to become sickly and miserable adults and undergo
several forms of surgery unless their postural defect was corrected.
He suggested that good exercise and
good diet were important,
and that children should be provided with properly designed chairs
and desks of appropriate height for their bodies, and that the
correction of eyesight problems was important so that children
did not need to lean forward to read, in which case the constant
bending caused the spine to grow stooped.
Reference: The Nervous Child (1930) p.171-189
The relationship between posture and health has numerous aspects
which create confusion about which causes which. However it is
most likely that various infectious illnesses, especially prolonged
illnesses, which impair appetite or result in a loss of weight
or a weakening of bones during the growth periods of childhood,
are likely to cause the spine to stoop under the weight of the
body, and unless recuperation is rapid, the postural alteration
Thereafter postural pressure on the chest and abdomen would
dispose to numerous health problems. However as long as the child
remains active they may be free of most symptoms, but if their lifestyle remains predominantly sedentary, the
constant effects of stooped posture may then bring about a variety of
ailments in adulthood. M.B.
Popular MYTHS about the cause of poor posture
it is popular to believe that slouching is due to laziness, or because the person doesn't want to sit up straight.
Rickets in infancy due to Vitamin D deficiency
However, the major factor which determines the way a person sits or stands is the shape of their spinal bones. That shape can be determined by an injury which occurs in a few seconds when the person is young, or by poor nutrition or disease which weakens their bones and causes the change in a few weeks or months. Needless to say that if the postural problems are not corrected when the child is young, then the change in shape will become permanent as the bones harden in adulthood. It is impossible to straighten adult bones just by sitting up straight.
Other cause or effect questions
it is also popular to believe that a child develops poor posture as the result of a bad habit, but spinal deformities have physical causes and standing in a particular way is much more likely to be a counterbalancing response than a habit.
The other popular misconception is that sadness causes poor posture, however, it is much more likely that physical factors result in spinal deformity, which in turn causes health problems, which then causes misery as a consequence. Also poor posture can affect the circulation of blood adversely to cause lethargy, and impede blood flow to the brain and have an effect on such things as the ability to concentrate and tiredness etc..
There has also been the suggestion that poor posture is due to stress and muscle tension, but in order to slouch the spinal muscles need to relax and stretch, and, for example, many people slouch in a lounge chair when they are relaxing as they watch sport on television.
It is important to develop effective methods of preventing postural problems, but that is more a matter of education than anything else.
A collection of diagrams from the 300 in The Posture Theory
Alexander Pope wrote "Just as the twig is bent the trees inclined.
Row two left
Good and bad posture.
Row two centre
Good posture at a desk, and curving forward from the hips, and improperly bending the neck.
Row two right
Sideways curvature of the spine can be due to carrying heavy books to school in a satchel held in one arm, compared with a knapsack where the weight is evenly distributed to both sides of the spine. The knapsack should be put on properly, and the books not too heavy, or they can cause a forward stoop in the upper spine, or a forward arch in the lower spine. See also here.
Row three left
Extremely bad reading posture due to poor eyesight. See also here.
Row three centre
Hunchback posture due to tuberculosis of the spine.
Row three right
Good posture, sideways curvature, and stooped curve of the spine.
Bottom row left
Stooped posture with a flat chest, compared with a deep chest.
Bottom row centre
Normal ribs compared to compressed and permanently flattened ribs due to poor posture.
Bottom row right
The abnormal angle of the shoulder blades due to sideways curvature of the spine.
An explanation for the illustrations
When a child is young their bones are soft and pliable. like the trunk of a young tree, especially if they have poor diet, or a long viral illness that affects their appetite, so a variety of factors can change the shape of their spine. For example, sleeping for eight hours every night in a spring mesh bed that sags in the middle, or repeatedly leaning forward to read due to poor eyesight, or being tall and having to bend their neck to talk to smaller children may gradually affect the shape of their spine. If the child carries heavy books to school in a satchel held in one arm he is likely to gradually develop sideways curvature of the spine, depending on the weight of the books, and the strength and physique of the child, and the distance traveled each day, and of course, on his nutrition. That problem can be prevented by carrying books to school in knapsacks on their backs where the weight is distributed evenly across each side of the spine, but they need to be put on properly, and not be overly heavy or the student may develop forward curvature of the upper spine, or a forward arch in the lower spine.
As the child grows the bones will curve, and the ligaments and muscles of the back will stretch accordingly, and then the bones will gradually harden by early adulthood . As you can appreciate, it is much more difficult to bend adult bones back to their original shape, and is comparable to trying to straighten a bend in the trunk of a fully grown tree.
However, surgery is sometimes performed in extreme cases of deformity, but the problem can be managed by developing a good understanding of anatomy, and by using methods of sitting and standing which restore effortless balance. The Alexander technique and Yoga provide some insight into those methods. However, as they say, prevention is better than cure.
If poor posture is not prevented or properly managed it can lead to many other health problems where the most commonly known ones are backaches, inefficient breathing, and lethargy - for example they are often referred to as 'slouches' - who haven't got enough energy to do anything.
Some of the effects of poor posture or other types of compression
See a YouTube vidio on this picture here
Culturally induced deformities: The ancient Greeks wore loose garments, and were very healthy compared to other cultures who deformed their bodies by using such things as shoulder binding straps to deliberately produce the hunchback appearance.
Seventeenth century women believed that it was attractive to have a long thin neck and sloping shoulders, so they wore binding straps to achieve that permanent appearance.
The Flat Head Indians of North America strapped boards to the top of the heads of their babies when their skulls were pliable, so that they grew up to be permanently flat in adulthood. They were known to neighbouring tribes to be somewhat dull, probably because the deformity of their skulls affected their brain function.
Education in the history of fashion and health can prevent those problems from occurring to future generations of children.
See also; this YouTube video on foot deformity and posture here
A cartoon showing the effects of high heel shoes on the spine. See also here.
A normal foot compared to a foot permanently deformed by wearing pointed toe shoes. See also here
Sideways curvature of the spine (scoliosis) caused by having one leg shorter than the other. A cause of back pain which can be relieved by inserts or raised soles and heels on one shoe.
A normal shaped stomach compared to one pushed down by poor posture.
A normal liver compared with two that have been crushed and deformed by tight corsets
A normal shaped bowel compared to one pushed down in the middle by poor posture, and an x-ray image of the cramps of the irritable bowel syndrome. The strain on the colon due to the cramps can cause diverticula which are small ruptures in the wall of the bowel that dispose to diverticulitis.
The top diagram (of the man) features the side profile of George MacAree who had the world's largest chest measurement of 76 inches, or 193 cm according to the Guinness Book of Records, 1977 edtion.
The lower diagram, and the geometric comparisons have been adapted from it. M.B.
The Posture Theory and Chest Shape ©
If an individual has good nutrition and good health when they are young they are likely to develop a natural spine and chest shape.
The natural shape of the spine, when viewed from the side, is upright with a slight S-shaped curve, and the breast bone is slightly inclined forwards. The breathing muscle or diaphragm forms the base of the chest, and is dome shaped when the person breathes out, and flattened when they breath in.
The overall shape of the chest is therefore triangular, and moves to a somewhat pyramid form if they lean forward or stoop their head, and the overall arrangement is structurally stable.
By contrast, if the individual has illnesses like rickets or prolonged viral infections which weaken their bones and muscles when they are infants, the spine is likely to bend forward under the weight of their head and shoulders, and as the spine forms a C-shaped curve, the lower spine pushes the lower abdomen forward into a pot bellied appearance. That physical shape forms a crease across the front of the upper abdomen and the lower tip of the breast bone tends to be caught in it and pushed backwards each time the child leans forward.
When the breastbone is flattened in that manner, and runs parallel to the spine, it has the shape of a column, more like the leaning tower of Pisa.
The net result is that the child with a triangular shaped chest will tend to push the breastbone forward as they grow, so they will naturally develop a deep chest with a lot of room for their heart and lungs and stomach below, which allows for good digestion, good breathing, and plenty of energy, which, in turn, gives them a competitive advantage in the pursuits of life in sport and business.
However, the child with the stooped spine will have a flat chest, that tends to incline backwards, and doesn't support it, so the spine will become more stooped as they grow. That will tend to limit the room available for the heart, lungs, and stomach, and therefore result in impaired digestion, respiration, and energy levels.
The importance of this concept to parents, educators, health professionals, and public health officials is that the effects of such illnesses on the physique of children needs to be identified as quickly as possible, and then good nutrition, and natural activities and exercises encouraged as soon as possible after recovering, so that permanent and progressive problems can be prevented.
The idea that a combination of posture and chest shape is the cause of multiple symptoms is unique to The Posture Theory.
The origin and development of The Posture Theory from 1975 to 2000
The Posture Theory began in 1975 as an attempt to explain the co-existence of a wide range of
symptoms which were not evident on X-rays or other medical tests
and were deemed to have no known or verifiable cause. The generally
accepted view was that there were so many symptoms of such a
variable nature affecting so many different systems and parts
of the body that it was impossible for them to have only one
The following four years from 1975 to 1979 involved an assessment of all of the
obscurities, contradictions, delayed reactions, variables, and
confusing aspects of the problem to produce, in simplified terms,
the clear idea that, in some way or other, at some time or other,
every symptom was induced or aggravated by a common factor, namely,
The chest pain, breathlessness, and abdominal pain
Essentially, leaning forward compressed the chest to cause chest
pain, the stomach to cause stomach pain, the lungs to cause breathing
difficulties, and the kidney area to cause aches in that part of the back.
The reason for the cause of the abdominal pain being difficult to determine was because it did not necessarily occur by leaning forward once. It was more likely to occur gradually by leaning forward repeatedly to read and write at a desk for more than an hour, and then gradually get worse throughout the day.
The pain in the kidney area had a similar occurrence where it would gradually start as a mild ache in the left side of the back, and get progressively worse during the day, and sometimes be followed by a similar ache in the right side of the back. It was also aggravated by cold breezes blowing on the back. For example while walking for an hour into the wind there was no ache, but when walking the return journey with the breeze blowing from behind, the kidney area would begin to ache on both sides of the back. That effect could be prevented by wearing an insulated vest.
The cause of the breathlessness was difficult to notice because it sometimes, but not always occurred when leaning forward, and sometimes occurred at other times with other activities such as exercise, and it was also more likely to be a problem in colder months.
Similarly the chest pain would not occur simply by leaning forward once, but was more related to the fact that poor posture put repeated postural on the muscle and tissue between the ribs, and gradually produced a tenderness in the area that could occasionally result in sharp stabbing pains. Also a dull ache might not be present doing normal activities, but occur with each step of the left foot while jogging along the beach, because the foot sinks into the soft sand each time, and the weight of the stooped head and shoulders compresses the ribs together each time, more so on the left side than the right. That is because most people have some degree of sideways curvature in the spine, and one shoulder lower than the other, where that shoulder moves up and down a greater distance with each step.
Other dull or strong pains in the extreme left and right side of the chest are due to muscle cramps that results from the abnormal curvature of the spine, and an abnormal shape of the chest putting more strain on those muscles.
The puzzle of the faintness and fatigue
However, leaning forward also caused a sense of faintness
and dizziness, and a sense of fatigue and exhaustion, but the
precise mechanism for that was not so clear. For example, how
could leaning forward only once produce a sense of faintness
and weakness, but other times have no obvious effect, and how could leaning forward repeatedly for only
half an hour cause complete exhaustion for two days. How was postural pressure causing that? and what structure in the anatomy was the postural pressure affecting.
Therefore, at that stage, a posture theory was proposed for most
of the aches and pains, and another idea had to be developed
for the faintness and fatigue symptoms.
During the fifth year of development, 1979, the observation was made
that the fatigue was different from normal insofar as it was
not only induced by leaning forward, but also, it came on more
readily in response to physical effort, and persisted for longer
after it had been induced, and was not relieved in the usual
way by rest. This was compared to two children on a seesaw, where
the heavy child would find it easy and quicker to lower his end
of the board, and the light child would find it more difficult
and slower, and so the feature of the fatigue in not returning
to normal at the usual rate was referred to as a disequilibrium.
Hence there was a Posture Theory for all of the aches and pains,
and a Disequilibrium Theory for the fatigue.
An attempt was then made to determine how leaning forward could
cause fatigue, and that led to a study of Valsalva's Maneuver
which is a scientific method that is used in
laboratories for the purpose of inducing stress in humans, and
stress is a widely accepted cause of fatigue. In this technique
the patient is asked to pinch their nose, and hold their mouth
shut, and breath out with force, which increases the air pressure
in the chest. That pressure compresses the blood vessels in the chest, and impedes the blood flow from the feet to the brain.
The brain responds by sending nerve signals via the nervous system
to the blood vessels in the legs, causing them to constrict,
and thereby increasing blood pressure to force blood up past
the pressured area in the chest and onto the brain to complete
the cycle and prevent faintness and collapse.
Leaning forward has the same effect of increasing air pressure inside the chest and reducing the blood flow from the abdomen to the brain.
That fact solved
the mystery of the cause of faintness, and dizziness, and nervousness, but more importantly it provided a cause for the fatigue.
In simple terms it means that less blood is reaching the brain, and, as the blood contains oxygen and nutrients, there is less oxygen being supplied to the brain, so there will be more difficulty concentrating and thinking, and more tiredness.
However the mechanism for the persistence of those symptoms at other times needed to be explained, which led to the idea that the constant or repetitive postural pressure was blocking the blood flow through the chest, so that blood would tend to dam up in the veins below, and strain, weaken, stretch, or damage those muscular tubes.
That weakness would explain some other symptoms such as unstable or variable blood pressure. It would also explain why the symptom of faintness would occur when to body was tilted up and down or sideways on a tilt table, but more importantly it provided a cause for the fatigue, because the blood would tend to flow from the left or right side of the body or in whatever direction it was tilted. As the blood was contained within tubular vessels they would stretch as extra blood flowed through them due to the effects of gravity. The increase in the volume of blood within them would then reduce the amount reaching the brain. That would also explain why the faintness occurred when sitting in a swirling show ride at a fairground, or while going up or down in an elevator, or while sitting in a plane which accelerates on take off or decelerates on landing. That led to the question of which part of the veins were affected. It could be the small vessels between the arteries and the veins, or all of the veins, or the major vein in the abdomen which is called the vena cava.
Another clue to the symptoms being caused by weak or stretched veins is in the fact that some people with severe varicose veins in the legs have mild symptoms of faintness when they move from the laying to the standing position. That is because the blood from the upper part of the body rushes down to the feet due to the sudden increase in the effect of gravity, and the varicose veins stretch and hold more blood, so the return of blood back to the heart and brain is delayed for a few seconds. If all of the veins below the chest were affected then the faintness would be worse than if just the leg veins were weak.
Another clue to that possibility is in the previous medical label for that set of symptoms which was 'neurocirculatory asthenia' which means weakness of the nerves and the circulation of blood'.
More importantly it would explain why the faintness and fatigue also occurred in response to strenuos exertion where the increased and more powerful flow of blood would cause those veins to stretch and reduce the blood flow to the heart and brain when it was needed the most. The symptoms would then persist for an abnormal period after exercise because of the time it took for those tubes to regain their previous tone. The elastiscity of those blood vessels would further explain why the symptoms were less likely to be a problem at rest, or while walking, and were more associated with sudden rapid sprinting.
Nowadays that set of symptoms is generally referred to as orthostatic intolerance and exercise intolerance. although it would be more accurate to refer to them as orthostatic inefficiency and exercise limitations.
See also here
See also this reference on reduced cerebral blood flow in CFS patients here
For my YouTube video on the cause and treatment of faintness see here
and a reference with the scientific measurement of air pressure in the chest relating to posture and corsets . . .
Robert L. Dickinson M.D. (November 5, 1887), Questions of pressure and displacement, The New York Medical Journal, here
This aspect of The Posture Theory is unique and distinct from other theories for these reasons
1. The cause of the damage to anatomy is repetitive posturally induced Valsalva's maneuver.
2. The chronic fatigue is due to damage to the abdominal and, or peripheral blood vessels.
3. The inefficient blood flow to the brain causes poor concentration and tiredness.
4. The inefficient response of blood vessels causes a reduced capacity for physical exercise.
5.Tilt table tests can be used to detect and measure the instability of blood flow, and hence the severity of the chronic fatigue.
The theories proposed by other authors include the idea that it is due to chronic recurring anxiety, or that it is due to damage or dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system.
The essay called The Matter of Framework
After determining how poor posture could cause fatigue it became possible to write one unifying essay which covered all of the symptoms, including the chest pains, stomach pains, and breathlessness etc. It was a three page article called "The Matter of Framework", which was given that title because it combined a framework of ideas to explain how a framework of symptoms could be caused by the framework of the human body, and it was published in the Australasian Nurses Journal in June1980. That essay has since been referred to as The Posture Theory.
The antique corset book and Visceroptosis
In 1993 an antique shop had an old book from 1895 on display, with the pages opened to show an illustration of the internal organs of a nineteenth century woman who had worn tight waisted whalebone corsets for most of her life. The stomach was pushed from the horizontal position to the vertical position in her belly, and all of the other internal organs were crushed or twisted out of place. The medical term for displaced abdominal organs is visceroptosis. Further reading of nineteenth century literature revealed that such women had horrendous health problems, but mainly horrendous indigestion, and a severe type of bowel disease called muco-membranous colitis, where the inner lining of the bowel would peel off and be passed as strips of skin, and the compression of the womb caused horrendous problems with pregnancy and childbirth. However, the most commonly reported problems were palpitations, breathlessness, faintness and fatigue occurring in response to emotion or exertion. Those problems were the subject of public debates for many years until 1904 when those who described the serious health problems won and managed to convince women to discard their corsets in favor of looser garments. Consequently corsets started to go out of fashion in 1904 and had more or less disappeared from use by the 1920's.
The eleven editions of The Posture Theory book
The Posture Theory book was started in 1994 as a 16 page paper back pamphlet with the aim of adding evidence and improvements to it by using information from all sources, such as research papers in medical journals, natural health magazines, and general and history literature. It was easy to find the evidence which added about 150 pages of information annually until the year 2000 when it became a hardback publication with a table of contents, an index, 130 references, 300 illustrations, and 1000 pages.
Stooped and sideways curvature of the spine
During that time the influence of spinal shape was added to the action of leaning
forward, where patients with stooped spines were more likely
to develop symptoms because of the additional pressure imposed by that physique, and sideways curvature of the spine explained
why some of the symptoms, such as the chest pain, was more common
on one side of the chest. The pain may be due to excessive pressure, or excessive stretching of the rib cage on one side. Similarly, a stoop in the upper part
of the spine would produce pressure in different regions and
from different angles and result in a slightly different set
of symptoms than a stoop in the lower half. For example, curvature
of the upper spine would be more likely to produce neck ache,
chest pains, and breathing difficulties, and curvature of the
lower spine would tend to result in more prominent low back pain,
kidney aches, and abdominal pains.
The shape of the chest - broad, barrel, flat, or funnel shape
Significant improvements to the theory began in 1993 when the effect of such things as chest shape were considered.
For example a large barrel shaped rib cage would protect the
chest contents from pressure because as the person leaned forward the breast bone would move over and around the lungs, whereas a small, flat, funnel shaped, and narrow
rib cage would dispose to the sword shaped breast bone moving down and backwards and digging it's blunt tip into the junction of the stomach and food pipe. That could cause leakage of the acid from the stomach to the food pipe, which has a weaker lining and be more liable to become painful due to the effects of that acid. Such pressure would also dispose to a faulty function, or spasm of that junction. Similarly all of the lower ribs would put more pressure on the internal anatomy of the abdomen beneath, such as the bends in the left and right side of the colon,
and produce additional symptoms.
Leaning from the hips instead of the waist
Ultimately the way a person repeatedly
leans forward, in combination with other factors influences symptoms.
For example, if a person with a shallow chest leans forward from
the waist the spine buckles in the middle and the breastbone
recedes backwards to produce a maximum amount of pressure inside
the chest, with the likelihood of more numerous and more severe
symptoms eventually developing. By contrast, if they lean forward from the hips, the spine remains
straight and the breast bone doesn't move backwards, so there is no pressure
on internal structures.
Standing to write
Other methods of avoiding the tendency to slouch needed to be developed, and started with the idea of standing and writing on a flat bench at elbow height. The next step was to read and write on at an angled platform so that even less leaning forward is needed to see the text. Finally, learning to type, and then standing in front of a computer with the keyboard at waist height, and the screen at eye height meant that there was no need to lean forwards at all, resulting in a considerable reduction in the number, frequency, and severity of symptoms.
Typing instead of writing - from twisting the spine to a static spine
Another observation was made that writing with a pen requires leaning forward which puts the weight of the upper body on the arm, wrist, and hand, which results in heavy writing that puts deep grooves in the paper, and the mechanical strain disposes to cramps and repetitive strain injury. By contrast standing up straight to write takes that pressure away.
Also, when writing by pen, the hand moves to the left margin of the page and then pushes the pen across to the right side, and then to the left again to start the next line. By the end of the page the pen has moved from left to right and back again about twenty times, which means that the spine, and the breast bone (or sternum) have been twisted to the left and right repeatedly, causing the tip of the sword shaped breast bone to dig into the stomach, and twist left and right as it does so, thereby inducing, or aggravating various symptoms, but particularly abdominal pain.
Typing solved that problem because both hands are used equally, with the left hand staying on the left side of the keyboard, while the right hand is kept on the right side. Consequently the spine and breastbone don't rotate, and hence the symptom of abdominal pain was relieved.
The causes of spinal deformity
Further information was compiled on every aspect of posture and
health which included
the study of causes. The main one was
poor nutrition in childhood, such as vitamin D deficiency which
softened the child's bones so that their skeleton collapsed under
their own body weight. More obscurely, when infectious illnesses
occur in childhood there are often many weeks or months of nausea,
vomiting, and poor appetite, accompanied by physical inactivity,
and that can result in a loss of muscle tone which can cause
gradual and subtle changes in skeletal shape, and if corrective
measures are not taken promptly the deformity can persist until
adulthood when the bones harden and become set in that position.
The enlarging, forward protruding, and increasing weight of the
fetus in pregnancy contributes to postural problems in adult
women, as do high heel shoes which throw the hips forwards and
the upper spine backwards, and the neck and head forwards. The thinning of bones due to the lack
of calcium and osteoporosis influences posture in the elderly. The study of clothing shows that the shape of corsets determined the shape of the bones which eventually develop. For example, a low waisted corset will deform the lower spine and hips, whereas constantly wearing a funnel shaped corset in childhood will cause the individual to grow with a permanent funnel shaped rib cage instead of a broad and deep chest. The funnel shape resulted in those women breathing in a shallow manner because their breathing muscle, the diaphragm, could not descend toward the abdomen properly. Hence such women were always breathless, and they relieved their breathlessness and faintness, by unlacing their corsets, but still had minor problems because of the permanent deformity in their bones and bodies.
The history of posture and health
A thorough study of the history of people with straight spines,
broad shoulders, and deep chest reveals that they have been renown
for their strength, stamina, good health, and success in sport,
academic life, and commerce. In fact, for thousands of years
Yoga and Buddhism have placed great emphasis on the importance
of good posture in achieving a relaxed state of mind, and more
recently chiropractic, osteopathy, the Alexander Technique, and
physiotherapy have used postural improvement as a means of treating
a wide variety of diseases and injury. Moreover methods of improving
posture have been taught in private and public schools to enhance
the future health and success of the students, and in sporting
and military academies to improve stamina, courage, and strength
of character, and in singing, acting, radio announcing, and public speaking classes to reduce pressure on the throat and vocal chords
to improve the strength, endurance, and quality of the voice,
and in music and dancing schools to improve balance, ease of
movement, and avoidance of injury, and in modeling and finishing
schools for adolescence to improve beauty, social acceptance,
and social success.
The first book devoted to the comprehensive study of posture and health
It obviously follows that if good posture has such a powerful
influence on a persons health and success in life, that poor
posture would have a correspondingly detrimental effect. However
the recognition of the harmful effects has been missing, and
never documented, studied, or identified in any meaningful, detailed
or organized way, and even the recognition of the beneficial
effects has waxed and waned from country to country, and decade
to decade, from being crucially important, to being a trivial
cosmetic aspect of vanity.
One of the main objectives of writing The Posture Theory was
to remove any doubt from the matter, and bring the importance
of this subject into permanent public consciousness.
Information on prevention, ergonomics, and treatments were
other significant aspects of the final Posture Theory which was
published in the year 2000 in its 11th edition as a one thousand page book with more than
100 references and three hundred illustrations. It was distributed
to public libraries throughout Australia, New Zealand, and North
The Posture Theory and the aspect of Evolution © M.A.Banfield
Many ideas appear to be simple but it takes thousands of years before one man thinks of it, and then it becomes obvious. This is what one of Charles Darwins most famous advocates, Thomas Huxley, wrote about his theory about the origin of species. . .
"How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!" See here
According to Newton's third law of motion action and reaction are equal and opposite.
However, I have noted the axiom, that in evolution, reaction is slightly greater than action. © M.B.
(re: As time goes by, the difference from the original becomes progressively greater).
Charles Darwin had a writing platform bulit onto the arms of his arm chair, and a tall music stand can be seen in a photo of his home. See my report here
According to Darwin the average person knows no more about the insides of the human body than they know about the inside of a ship.
When I first wrote the posture theory I was describing how poor posture places the head and shoulders forward of the bodies centre of gravity to produce strain on the spine and compression of the chest and abdomen which would cause chest pains, fatigue and indigestion.
I also considered the possibility that the harmful effects of poor posture on health may have contributed to the evolution from monkeys with a stooped spine, to man with an upright posture.
The apes, for example, have long strong arms which enable them to swing through trees with ease, but when they move down to the ground they walk with their spine straight, but bent forward from the hips in a posture that is halfway between standing upright and walking on all fours. However, they tend to support the weight of their head and shoulders by placing their hands on the ground.
By contrast humans have gone in the opposite direction and walk upright with the weight of their head and shoulders balanced effortlessly on top, which would make movement on the ground much easier.
Another factor would be the shape of the chest. For example, when viewed from the side a deep chest has a rib cage which takes on a roughly triangular shape which would tend to act like a framework that prevents the spine from bending in the middle. By contrast the flat chest would have a virticle shape, and the torso would tend to buckle in the middle and press backwards into the body and bring the upper spine forward and over into a stoop to make health problems more likely.
Hence those humans who had good posture would tend to have good digestion and stamina and thrive more so than those with poor posture so that eventually most humans would have an upright posture.
The diagram above shows, from left to right, the posture of a Gibbon, Orangutan, Chimpanzee, Gorilla, and Man.
The next two are from the first few pages of my 1000 page book called "The Posture Theory (11th edition)", and show a man leaning forward to read, and placing his elbow on the bench and his hand on his jaw to support his upper body and thereby reduce the strain on his spine. The final diagram shows the man standing at a desk and typing on a keyboard which is placed at waist height, and looking at the diagram on the screen which is positioned at eye height so that there isn't any need to bend forward. It is an effective way of relieving and preventing several health problems.
The first five illustrations are from a book called “Anthropology: An Introduction To The Study Of Man And Civilisation” (1881) p.39 by Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, which was previously from “Man’s Place in Nature” (1863) by Thomas Henry Huxley, where the gibbon was represented as twice normal size. That part of the diagram was originally drawn by Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins from specimens in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons.
I used that diagram on page 150 in the eleventh and final edition of my book in October 2000. The next two diagrams have been adapted by me from an illustration in a book called De humani corporis fabrica by Andreas Vesalius in 1543. The first adaption was used as the cover for the 4th edition of my book in November 1994, and the second was added later, and both have been featured on the first two pages since the 10th edition of August 1999.
This aspect of The Posture Theory is a suggested extension of Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution. © M.A.Banfield October 2000 with modifications on 16th October 2010.
I started reading some biographies of Charles Darwin about fifteen or more years after I wrote The Posture Theory, and noticed that he had similar health problems to the ones I had been studying, I also noticed that he sat in an arm chair which had a tailor made writing platform set into it. Photos of one of his rooms in later life showed a tall music stand for reading sheet music from the standing position.
Charles Darwin, like most people who develop new ideas which bring old ones into question, was criticised and subjected to ridicule and mockery. In fact, if he did not have other intelligent supporters who were prepared to champion his theory then his ideas would now be just an obscure nineteenth century novelty, and many unscrupulous writers would have plagiarised everything he wrote to claim the ideas for their own financial or social benefit. M.A.Banfield.
The following quote comes from another website . . . "Your Mother Was Right - Posture is Important! . . . When doctors or therapists look at someone's posture they generally first look at the alignment of the weight bearing joints in standing. ideally from a back view the spine should have no lateral curvature and the legs should be symmetrical without undue angulation at the knees or ankles. From a side view the spine should form a smoothe S-shaped curve, bisected by an imaginary plumb line dropped from the apex of the head through the centre of gravity of the body. This same plumb line should pass through the tip of the shoulder, the center of the hip joint and ankle joint and slightly behind the knee joint. With this ideal alignment the body weight is balanced over the spine and lower extremity joints requiring minimum muscular effort. This alignment also evenly distributes pressure on the intervertebral discs and avoids excessive stress on the ligaments . . . The sitting position is where most of us get into trouble with poor postural habits. This is especially true when driving or using a computer. As we focus on the activity in front of us we tend to protrude the head and neck forward. Because the body follows the head, the thoracic and lumbar spine tends to round forward as well." (the author is FRANK J. D'AMBROSIO, PT - apparantly a website essay - date unknown. See more information here
I invented the idea of standing at a desk to improve posture in 1994
I wrote The Posture Theory in 1980.
The photo above shows my computer layout.
In 1994 I added a plat
form to the top of the desk.
In 1998 I learned to type and added another platform on top of the first, and then added a keyboard tray to bring the computer screen higher.
The keyboard is at elbow height, and the screen just below eye height.
I have been standing to type ever since.
I started trying to determine the cause of my health problems in 1975, and soon concluded that sitting as a desk and repeatedly leaning forward to read and write was somehow associated with inducing and aggravating my abdominal pain. In fact, that idea is part of The Posture Theory of 1980.
During that period I spent most of my time laying on my back and staring at the ceiling and trying to think how to solve those problems, and would spend as little time as possible writing my conclusions down on paper to send off for publication. As a general guide I would spend two weeks thinking which didn't cause any pain at all, and then several hours or more writing, often in stops and starts, which was followed by two weeks recovering from the abdominal pain that was caused by sitting for that short time at the desk.
I also tried to improve my posture while in the sitting position to see if it would prevent the pain but it was not very effective. In fact, if I leaned forward I would gradually accrue pain, and if I sat up too straight I could feel a stretching pain in my upper abdomen, so I found it too difficult to find a medium position which was consistently comfortable.
Fourteen years later I decided to add a small platform on top of my desk to raise the height of my writing paper to see if it would consistently improve the upright position of my spine and reduce the postural pressure on my stomach, and the pain. It did, so I published an illustration of a skeleton standing at a high desk as the cover diagram on the fourth edition of my book in March 1995. Sometime later I started to learn how to type, and then use a computer, and in about 1998, I decided to raise the screen to eye height for the same reason. That change resulted in a major reduction in the severity and duration of that symptom. Naturally, the volume of writing that I was capable of after that year increased. The diagram of a skeleton standing at a desk with the computer screen at eye height was the first full page illustration in the tenth edition of my book which was published in August 1999. The eleventh edition was published with those illustrations in October 2000. I used the same diagram on the cover when I published the 12th edition as an eBook recently, in July 2012. It is available through Amazon.com here. See my YouTube video on how I developed the original theory here.
I used diagrams of what was happening to the skeleton and the internal organs to show what other people could not see because it is covered by a layer of skin.
When I changed my posture in that manner I predicted that the focus of my body weight would change and that it might cause other problems. I did notice, after several years, that I was getting more leg cramps, foot aches (which I had never had before), and some minor problems with haemorrhoids, and I found them reasonably easy to manage by reducing the time spent standing at the computer, having regular breaks, and walking about. Also the change did not completely remove my original symptoms, but it did reduce their number and severity considerably. People with normally shaped spines, and effortlessly balanced body weight, would probably not have any health problems, and would not need to change from the sitting to standing posture. Similarly some people might benefit from other methods. It depends on the individuals physique.
I also knew that sooner or later some people would recognise the health and financial value of my ideas in preventing and treating disease and would start using them.
Imitation is the best form of flattery
I invented the method of standing up as a way of preventing health problems caused by sitting at a desk as early as 1994, and modified the method to make it much more effective in 1998. See a summary of my theory here and the ebook version of my book here.
Since then I have seen TV shows which report that other people have copied that idea, or drawn a similar conclusion. A more recent website with a similar idea can be seen here.
See also a report published by another author named Jon L. Gelman in 2012 about the use of sitting/standing variations as a means of preventing back pains and improving circulation, energy levels, blood flow to the brain, concentration, and sleep patterns, here.
I read that page on Monday 17th December 2012 and sent the author an email informing him that he may have inadvertently breeched my copyright as they were virtually an exact copy of the details in my theory. I also asked him to comment on my report, and when I checked it the next morning it had the words . . . "Sorry, the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist" (end of quote)
The advantage of him deleting that page is that he is no longer breeching my copyright, but the disadvantage to me is that some the evidence of the accuracy, and merit of my ideas is gone, as well as the fact that many other researchers at the highest levels recognise their importance and usefulness and are scientifically proving them, but have not known or acknowledged me as the source.
This is a quote from that article . . .
"Over the past year, NIOSH and its Total Worker Health Program have been traveling the country sharing the evidence and benefits of comprehensively integrating health protection with health promotion, including workplace programs that encourage physical activity, weight loss and stress management. Recently, we launched an internal NIOSH pilot program to explore the use of sit and stand work stations as part of a workplace health and wellbeing initiative to reduce sedentary work in our workplace.
The pilot program was inspired by emerging research on the impact of sedentary work (Van der Ploe, Chey, et al, 2012) on employee health and by new employer initiatives that aim to decrease sedentary work, such as VHA’s Wellness Program highlighted in a recent NIOSH Science Blog post. A sit-stand workstation allows the user to intermittently sit or stand while working on the computer, participating in a conference call, or performing other work. The customizable workstation allows users to easily transition between a seated and standing work position multiple times throughout the day" (end of quote) That quote can also be seen in the CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website here.
This is some more quotes from another website called ISHV . . .
"Walking workstations were placed in departments where several employees could share them (see photo). These devices, essentially treadmills with desks, computers and phones attached, allow staff to walk at a slow pace (1-2 miles per hour) and work at the same time . . . and . . . Employees received accelerometers to discourage sitting still. Unlike pedometers, accelerometers measure vertical acceleration and some vibrate when the user has been still for a period of time . . . Preliminary evaluations show that these efforts are paying off in a trimmer, healthier VHA workforce . . . Based on the success of the program they worked with a multidisciplinary task force to develop The Employee Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Guidebook. The aim of this guidebook is to provide health care professionals with information and references appropriate for establishing and expanding programs at individual facilities . . . We would like to hear from you. Share with us your successes in improving the health of your workforce. What are some of your challenges?(end of quotes) See here
As the authors wish to hear from readers I would like to inform them that I am the person who developed those ideas and principles many years ago, and as such I am entitled to be recognised for that.
Jon L. Gelman's qualifications
Jon L Gelman is Managing Attorney - Education - John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois, 1971 Doctor of Jurisprudence - Rutgers The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, June, 1967 B.A., Bachelor of Arts Major: Political Science.
He has published several books and has received many honors and awards, and is a member of many professional law associations. His profile can be seen here
This is a quote from the Jon L.Gelman website as of 10:18 A.M. 15th November 2012 . . .
"Providing legal service with a social conscience . . . The law firm of Jon L Gelman has been listed in the 2013 edition of America's Best Law Firms Rankings of U.S. News Media and Best Lawyers.. . . Jon L. Gelman stated, "It is indeed an honor to once again be named to this list. For over 4 decades it has been our privilege to represent and assist injured workers and their families." See here
How the pain affected my writing style
(This item was written long before I found that the stand at desk methods were being referred to as "new" by other authors in December 2012)
Throughout the thirty year period there remains the trail of that process which began with me writing one essay every six weeks, to writing 100 word letters to newspapers each week or fortnight, to publishing a one-word-a-day calendar for a public speakers organisation, to writing a thousand page book which is completely different than any other. The book is not a running storyline of chapters written continuously, but is a series of sentences, paragraphs, quotes, diagrams, and occasional essays which were each written in a few minutes or hours, and have been put into sections that contains similar information about particular symptoms, and which is encased between a computer generated table of contents and an extensive index.
My capacity has continued to increase with refinements to my methods, but the fact remains that it still causes me some health problems, and it is still a process of stops and starts.
Of course the conclusions that I have drawn have an element of controversy because the previous ideas in general literature were that the symptoms were imaginary, or 'all in the mind', or psychosomatic, and there are some people who obviously resent the idea that I am producing different explanations.
Hence, rather than acknowledging the extreme pain I have been through, some individuals comment on the "peculiar" nature of my writing style, and one of Wikipedia's anonymous editors who knows how much pain it would have taken to do all that, made an insolent and snide remark to give another editor the false impression that I was telling lies. That editor wrote these words . . .
"Based on his prolific output, I think it would be fair to say that writing is not especially difficult for him, but perhaps we should not assume that it is trivial. WhatamIdoing" 17:28, 5 August 2008. (end of quote). See here.
That individual, who could do up to 300 edits per day in comfort, also deliberately wrote great volumes of criticism to get me blocked and banned, in the full knowledge that I would not be able to keep up the pace. e.g. See here, and here and here.
The Posture Theory - why it wasn't as obvious as it appears to be
The Posture Theory web site is an introduction
to a 1000 page book which deals with any and every aspect of
posture and health, and includes a study of the subject from
the medical, research, and popular literature, and brings a lot
of scattered, unco-ordinated, and diverse information into one
The book presents the
idea and evidence that poor posture causes neck and back pains
related to postural strain on the intervertebral discs and nerves,
and strains the ligaments and muscles which connect and support
the vertebral bones of the spine disposing to aches in the jaw,
neck, and lower back. It also places the head and shoulders forward
to put downward pressure on every structure in the chest and
abdomen, affecting the heart, lungs, stomach, bowels, and kidneys,
and every ligament and muscle supporting them, and every nerve
and tube connecting them, to cause almost any and every symptom
known to human experience.
Of course, the relationship
between good posture and good health is obvious to observers
because the person with a straight spine and broad shoulders
looks fit and healthy, whereas the person with a round shouldered
slouch looks tired and sickly. Nevertheless it has been the subject
of debate for thousands of years.
The problem is
that slouching feels relaxed and comfortable to the person involved
so it is difficult to convince them of the link between posture
and health until later in life when the effects of the pressure produce symptoms.
It has also been
noted that if the person has a problem such as chest pain, and
you ask them to sit up straight they will tell you that they
still have the pain, so it seems to the doctor and patient that
posture is not the cause.
occur in convincing people who are overweight that their problems
are due to the fatty food in their diet. If you ask them to eat
a more balanced diet with more fruit and vegetables they will
say that they prefer pineapple donuts to pineapples, and that
they have tried dieting in the past without success. There are
two factors to consider. Firstly changing diet for a day or a
week is not going to affect body weight in the long term. Secondly,
if the original bad diet has caused some health problems, then
changing diet will probably relieve or cure most of them. However
it may be unrealistic to expect to cure all of the damage, but
possible to relieve or better manage the ailments.
Hence the relationship
between posture and health is not as simple as sitting up straight
to relieve a particular pain, and it may not be easy for a person
with curved bones in their spine to sit correctly, but it is
important with regard to the prevention, relief, and management
of health problems.
that confuses this topic is the observation that some people
with stooped spines have good health, but such individuals invariably
also have wide or deep chests, particularly with broad shoulders
and a forward angled breastbone. That physique provides a large
rib cage which would protect the internal structures from the compressing affects of the stooped spine.
Hence, the actual relationship between physique and health may
be more comprehensively referred to as THE POSTURE AND CHEST SHAPE THEORY which is again obvious from the history of health
and general observation, but is better presented as a formal
instructional theory rather than leaving it to general unproven
An update of The Posture Theory - 2010
The Posture Theory was first published as a three page essay in 1980, and was later expanded to a thousand page book between 1994 and 2000, and continued on this website where I will now give a concise summary in 2010.
Poor posture compresses the chest and abdomen to cause a large range of health problems such as chest pains, breathlessness, and indigestion.
Similar symptoms were seen in nineteenth century women who wore 'hour glass' or 'wasp-waisted' corsets. It was because the abdomen contains the stomach, colon, liver, kidneys and backbone, and major nerves and blood vessels, and, for example, compressing the blood vessels reduces the flow of blood between the feet and the upper part of the body, Faintness and fatigue occurs because less blood is available to the brain. The women relieved their fainting spells by unlacing their corsets and laying down. However, after many years of wearing corsets some women found that they continued to be fatigued even after they unlaced them or stopped wearing them.
The general range of symptoms is also seen in pregnancy as the womb grows larger and heavier and compresses all of the structures around it, and puts pressure on the veins that come up from each leg and join in the abdomen, and the symptoms are generally, but not always relieved after childbirth as the womb returns to it's original size and weight.
Therefore any factor which persistently compresses the chest and abdomen is likely to cause chronic symptoms including fatigue.
Nevertheless some patients report that they were fit and athletic up until they contracted a viral infections such as typhoid, malaria, the flu, or glandular fever etc., and that after recovering from the nausea, vomiting and fever, they remained easily exhausted and could not return to their former sporting activities. Their condition has been called a post-viral fatigue syndrome, and various authors have suggested that the virus may have spread to, or affected the brain. The possibilities are that the brain sends less effective autonomic responses to the blood vessels so the flow of blood is weaker, which was previously called neurocirculatory asthenia, or that the virus has infected the nerves, which was previously called neurasthenia, and there is also the possibility that the virus has weakened the muscle fibres, or other structures in the walls of the blood vessels, although there is no firm scientific evidence for any of those conclusions.
Also, another group of patients will report that they were fit and healthy up until a period of anxiety or stress in their life, and that after the stress had finished they continued to be easily exhausted, and were not able to sustain physical effort as before. Some authors have argued that they continue to be anxious but are not aware of it, and refer to their symptoms as an anxiety disorder, and others suggest that the stress damages the brain, or the nerves or the adrenal glands, and refer to the condition as a psychosomatic disorder.
There are many other possibilities, such as changes in the blood chemistry due to an abnormal pattern of breathing, or changes in the autoimmune system etc, but in general the chronic fatigue is due to any factor which affects the quality or flow of blood to the brain, such as poor posture, tight corsets, pregnancy, and viral or stress damage to the nervous system and blood vessels, and of course, those factors would play a part in the other symptoms and the effect would be more likely if multiple factors were involved. The blood carries oxygen and nutrients so the reduced supply of those essentials contributes to fatigue.
There is also evidence that several slightly different syndromes exist with similar or overlapping causes and symptoms..
Ultimately the methods of preventing, relieving, or treating the symptoms involves improvements in posture, wearing loose clothing, immunising against viral infections, and developing a calm and relaxed attitude to all situations.
It is also not practical to consider these ailments as having one cause, or one method of treatment because it isn't possible to convince a person who has good posture that their symptoms are due to poor posture, or to convince a person who is not anxious that their symptoms are due to anxiety, or that someone who didn't have a viral infection at the start of their symptoms is suffering from a post-viral condition. M.B
A summary of other factors which
cause pressure symptoms
evidence for The posture Theory
from previous essays
Poor posture, due to spinal deformity
or slouching, throws the head and shoulders forwards and puts
pressure on all of the structures in the chest and abdomen, and
sideways curvature of the spine results in greater pressure on
those structures on one side. The amount, type, location, and
affect of that pressure is also influenced by the shape of the
chest, whether it is shallow or deep, and long or narrow.
Pregnancy and pressure
The effect can be compared to other
factors such as pregnancy where the enlarging womb starts to
put pressure on the bladder and bowels and cause such problems
as frequency of urination. As the womb continues to enlarge it
presses on the abdominal structures and then, in late pregnancy,
it pushes against the stomach and heart, causing heartburn, palpitations
and faintness, as common symptoms.
The pregnant womb
The enlarging womb of pregnancy causes bladder, kidney,
stomach, heart, and lung problems, and fatigue, as it expands
during the months of pregnancy. The symptoms are related to the
position of the womb and the anatomical structures that it presses
upon. Women often notice that their symptoms are caused by, or
change to something else depending on whether they stand, sit,
or lay on their back or their side. That is because the womb
changes position as they move. For example if the woman feels
faint in early pregnancy, it is due to pressure on the veins
coming up from the legs, so she can relieve it by sitting or
laying down. If she feels faint in later pregnancy while laying
on her back it is due to pressure on the veins behind the womb,
so she can get relief by rolling onto her side.
The stages of pregnancy
In early pregnancy the womb presses on the bladder and makes
the woman want to empty her bladder more often. In later pregnancy
the womb presses up against the stomach, heart and lungs causing
heartburn, palpitaitons, faintness, fatigue, and breathlessness.
Toward the end of pregnancy the womb moves down again in preparation for childbirth.
The womb can put pressure on the lower veins of the abdomen
causing the blood in the vessels of the legs etc to dam up and
produce swollen feet, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids.
The womb gets larger and heavier in women who bear twins,
so the symptoms become more common and more severe, and the problems
are more likely to be worse again in women who bear triplets.
The shape of the pelvic outlet
The normal shape of the pelvic outlet (left) is adapted for childbirth, but is deformed by a stooped posture (centre), or by sideways curvature of the spine (right).
The birthing chair
Many native women give birth in the squatting position which is a more natural position for pushing and bearing down during labor, and adds the advantage of gravity which made giving birth quicker and more comfortable.
Seventeenth century birthing chairs were used to achieve the same advantages but the introduction of forceps delivery in the eighteenth century required women to lay on their back, so birthing chairs went out of fashion.
Adjustable birthing chairs were sometimes used in the 20th century to make delivery more comfortable.
Reference: The Body Book (1986) page 303
Also reported in my book between 1994 and 2000.
Reference; Cohen ME, White PD (1951). "Life
situations, emotions, and neurocirculatory asthenia (anxiety
neurosis, neurasthenia, effort syndrome)". Psychosom
Med 13 (6): p.346
Corsets and pressure
My YouTube video on corsets and related factors can be seen here
Similarly, in previous centuries
women wore very tight waisted corsets which caused them a myriad
of health problems. Furthermore the low waisted corsets tended
to cause ailments related to the bladder, womb, and bowels, such
as severe constipation, and some women wore the corsets to induce
abortions. The high waisted corsets, by contrast, had a greater
effect on the chest, causing chest pains, breathlessness, and
faintness. Also the mid waisted corsets pushed the stomach from
the horizontal position to the vertical position, and the low
waisted corsets pushed the womb from the vertical to horizontal
shape, and altered the shape and angle of the pelvic bone and
pelvic outlet resulting in such features as shoulder presentation
and difficult and painful childbirth
different corset styles
In the seventeenth century
corsets were made in various styles, and the shape of corsets
worn in childhood detemined the permanent shape of her spine and chest
The Countess of Leicester and her children
(1596) depicting the late sixteenth century womens fashion which
included corsets worn since childhood to permanently alter the
shape of their spine and chest by adulthood.
See more information about childrens corsets here
Queen Anne of England (1665-1714) wore
corsets. She had chronic ill-health, and became pregnant 18 times
but only 5 of her children were born alive.
Some 19th century women constricted their waste to
ridiculous degrees since childhood to develop the hour glass
figure in adulthood In the process they deformed the shape of
their ribcage, stomach, and pelvic bones, and had horrendous
problems with their health which left them prone to faintness
and fatigue, and painful childbirth, and countless other ailments
which had them labelled as "the weaker sex", compared
to most men who did not wear corsets, and were therefore much
healthier and robust.
Most nineteenth century English country farm girls
wore comfortable loose clothing and developed broad and deep
chests and grew up with the reputation of being, healthy, strong,
and robust. By contrast, in places like London and Paris, the
women, and some men, wore the corsets which were made in local
factories, and sold in the many fashionable city dress shops.
Some corsets which had waist circumference of 14 inches were
sold off the rack as the minimum standard size, but nowadays
the Guiness Book of Records (1962) regards a 13 inch waist as
the world's smallest. They wore the corsets since childhood to
deform their chests into a funnel shape in order the give themselves
an hour glass figure. They developed a reputation for being weak
and sickly, and would faint easily, and suffer from breathlessness,
fatigue and indigestion. They relieved their fainting spells
by unlacing their corsets and laying in chaise lounges.
Some corsets also compressed the hips and deformed the pelvic bone and altered it's angle and shape and made childbirth difficult, painful, or impossible.
Poor posture has a similar affect at deforming the pelvic bone. A stooped spine is associated with a longer pelvic outlet, and sideways curvature is associated with various distortions and a flattening of the pelvic outlet, so that it no longer conforms with the shape of the babies head.
and pressure symptoms
Some soldiers were required
to wear their belts tight to give a neat appearance. Many such
soldiers developed haemorrhoids.
The basic cause is pressure on the veins between the rectum and liver. The resistance to the flow of blood damages the veins of the rectum.
Another cause is the heavy weight of the pregnant womb, which presses on those veins. Laying on the left or right side etc, can relieve that pressure.
A third cause is the lack of fibre in the diet.
When wheat stopped being ground by stone, and started being refined in the steel mills, the fibre was removed. The new type of flour was used to make bread which was the staple food, and main source of fibre in the diet. The change to low fibre bread started a world wide epidemic of constipation.
Constipation resulted in hard feces which required forced abdominal pressure to empty the rectum, and an epidemic of
appendicitis, irritabl bowel syndrome, other bowel diseases, and hemorrhoids.
Tight military tunics restrict the expansion and contraction of the chest during exertion.
See an example here, and an argument about it here.
see also here
Napoleon is depicted in many of his paintings as holding his right hand on his belly, which may have been due to indigestion.
When he was young he wore tight waisted trousers which were fashionable at the time. Such garments have the effect of giving a more masculine look by narrowing the waist and making the shoulders look broader by comparison. However, they also tend to push half of the contents of the belly up, and half down, and the head and shoulders incline forward, and the lower abdomen bulges in front like a pot belly.
They also increase the pressure on the stomach, which may have caused indigestion.
He complained of indigestion later in life,
and also suffered from haemorrhoids, and reported that they were aggravated
by horse riding.
Tight waist belts block blood flow from the rectum to the
liver and cause the rectal veins to swell up into a bunch like
grapes, similar to the way garters block blood flow in the legs
and cause varicose veins below the garter line. (haemorrhoids
are varicose veins of the rectum).
Bouncing up and down on the back of a horse as it gallops
along would put additional and repetitive pressure on the rectal
veins, and haemorrhoids were known to be aggravated while riding
in a vehicle over bumpy roads.
Napoleon reported that his haemorrhoid pain was aggravated while riding his horse to the battle of Waterloo. According to
some medical historians he may have won that battle
if it was not for the fact that he postponed the attack until
the following day to allow his hemorrhoid pain to subside. In
the meantime enemy reinforcements arrived and his army was defeated.
He eventually died of stomach cancer, and many nineteenth century
medical men attributed stomach cancer to compression of the stomach
by tight corsets.
His handwriting has been studied and described with these words . . .
"The pressure is firm and dark in appearance". See here
One cause of that would be stooping forward to write, either because of a stooped spine, or poor eyesight where the weight of the head and shoulders is transferred along the arm to the tip of the pen. In some cases the nib actually indents the paper along the line of text. The weight would also need more effort, so the writing would tend to be sprawling scribble.
People with straight spines and good eyesight don't have to lean forward so their handwriting would be effortless, smooth and light, and neat..
See also Napoleon and Napoleon's
influence on French fashion and The
Battle of Waterloo
Phil Mason was the author of a book called "Napoleon's Haemorrhoids" . . . According to a review by Medindia.net.news . . .Napoleon was suffering from an acute attack of piles two days before the battle, but his doctors lost the leeches that they used to relieve his agony, and accidentally overdosed him with the painkiller laudanum. He was still suffering from hemorrhoids and the affects of the painkiller when the battle broke out, which stopped him from riding his horse and supervising his troops, and may have been the reason for losing. See here
Male corsets, including the so-called 'Military corsets' were available for purchace with a variety of other belts and waist constrictors and were used for achieving the v-shaped torso.
The cosmetic trick
Men with a naturally large chest, have large hearts and lungs, so they look fit, energetic, and healthy, because they are actually healthy.
Men with smaller and narrower chests wanted to look athletic and healthy, so they constricted their waists to make the chest look large by comparison. Unfortunately they still had small chests, and by making their waists smaller, they were crushing their already small hearts, lungs and stomachs, and although they looked healthy, they were actually making themselves less fit, less energetic, and more prone to illness.
In the illustration above from a publication called "Judy" on 11-5-1892. You can see the caption "Family Pride" at the top, and the words at the bottom "Hang it, you know we must show off the family seventeen inch waist somehow. If you don't, I must!"
It is a comical comment about how important most people considered a narrow waist to be in nineteenth century society, when there were more than 3.5 million corset wearers in England alone, and where women, and some men, and soldiers wore them regularly.
The corset became popular after the invention of a practical sewing machine in the early nineteenth century. It enabled mass production, and therefore ordinary people were able to imitate the fashions that were previously only available to the wealthy classes.
The corset started going out of fashion as early as 1904 when the horrendous health affects become common public knowledge.
Some other forms of clothing produce
pressure symptoms, such as high heel shoes, which lift and tilt
the pelvic bone, increase the arch in the lower back and neck
to cause back and neck aches, and where military uniforms included tight collars, such as "the Choker", the pressure obstructed blood flow to the brain
and soldiers were more prone to faintness in battle, and where
tight belts were part of the uniform, large numbers of soldiers
In general terms any factor which puts
pressure on the body causes strain, and impairs blood flow, resulting
in local or widespread symptoms and ailments. e.g. when a person
crosses their legs the pressure on the blood vessels of the thighs
impairs blood flow to and from the feet, and when a tornique
or blood pressure cuff is placed on the arm, the increasing air
pressure in the cuff puts pressure on the blood vessels, initially
restricting blood flow, and if continued, blocks the blood flow
observations from history
Yoga has been around for thousands of years and teaches that posture
can influence breathing and energy levels.
ancient Greeks wrote the popular motto; "Mens sana in corpore
sana" which translates as "a sound mind in a sound
In 1650 John Bulwer wrote "Plato's men were full, square, and
somewhat strong, and might men".
Thomas Edison: "The doctor of the future will give no medicine,
but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame,
in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease".
Many parents and school teachers advise their children to develop
good posture habits to look more confident and successful, and
to ensure good health in the future.
posture relieves pressure on the back, chest, heart, lungs, stomach,
and blood stream, and therefore reduces the incidence of back
ache, chest pains, palpitations, breathlessness, and fatigue,
and improves digestion, physical development, and the sense of
wellbeing - The Posture Theory
Hippocrates observed that children with spinal
deformities in the upper back were prone to develop a hoarse
chest and lung diseases, whereas those with spinal deformities
in the lower back were more likely to get kidney and intestinal
Robert Louis Stevenson had stooped and sideways curvature of the spine
which probably developed during his childhood when he had many
infectious illnesses which left him with nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea,
and poor appetite and therefore poor nutrition for months at a time, when his
bones were growing. He contracted tuberculosis of his right lung
as a teenager, probably because of an infection combined with
the fact that sideways curvature of the spine pressured and congested his right lung. A pocket of infection persisted and occasionally
filled with blood which he vomited by the mouthful. He was a
professional writer who described how, when he was seriously
ill " unable to work or even lean forward for fear
of triggering another bloody flux". He solved that problem
by dictating his letters to his stepdaughter who did the writing
for him. He also described how he would wake up in the morning
feeling healthy and start playing the piano at 10 a.m. but by
3 p.m. or thereabouts his wife said "he breaks down altogether,
gets extremely white and is extremely wretched with exhaustion until the next morning again". That problem would be caused by leaning toward the piano and compressing his sickly lungs
to make breathing even more inefficient, and also by slowing the blood flow through his chest to his brain. Note also: In nineteenth
century Edinburgh infectious illnesses were common in childhood
and it was also common for teenagers to contract tuberculosis
probably because of the polluted drinking water and food, and
the air pollution of the industrial revolution. Louis solved
that problem by sailing to the south pacific where the air was
fresh and clean.
The hunchback poet Alexander Pope wrote "Just as the twig is
bent . . . the tree's inclined" .
He had multiple spinal
deformities which were probably the result of tuberculosis of the spine (Pott's disease, or more specifically Bovine Tuberculosis) which he contracted at the age of three when he was trampled by an infected cow, and wounded in the throat by it's horns. Those deformities included a forward
stoop in the upper spine, and a severe arch in his lower spine
which pushed his abdomen forward. It is also reported that he had one leg shorter than the other which may have caused or resulted from or influenced the sideways curvature of his spine which was also a feature of his physique. He described his life as "a long disease", and
in one of his poems he wrote about his "headaches, indigestion
and a thousand other aches and pains". His headaches may have been due to postural strain on his neck and spine, and his his breathing disorders may have been due to compression of the breathing muscles and lungs, and consequent functional disorders of those structures, and the disposition to lung diseases and disorders. He was described as having asthma. The stooped physique is associated with breathing which is not as deep as usual, and hence poorer ventilation of the lungs which would also dispose to lung infection. The indigestion was probably due to compression of this stomach, and the physique would have altered angle of his esophagus which may have caused esophageal spasm and difficulty swallowing.The stomach compression may have caused reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus and heartburn, and postural compression of the stomach disposes to hiatus hernia. Compression of his stomach can impede digestion and stunt his growth and cause a thin physique. He was reported as having a short physique as an adult with a height of four foot six inches. That may have been due to his otherwise normal height of more than five foot tall being reduced by the stoop. He was also reported as losing height as a teenager, probably because at that age his spine would still be pliable and the forward projection of his head and shoulders and his bodies centre of gravity, would have made him prone to further stoop as the years went by. He was born in 1688 and died in 1744 at the relatively young age of 56, from a combination of a respiratory condition (a lung and breathing disorder), and Bright's
disease (damage to the filters in the kidneys, with proteinuria)
here. The symptoms of Bright's disease include high blood pressure, odema, and the accumulation of fluids in the lungs which may have been the cause of his breathing problems at that time which would have been additional to the breathing problems that he had throughout his life. See also reference number 73 here and here.
See also my YouTube Video on the health problems of the hunchback poet Alexander Pope here
For diagrams of the hunchback posture, computer posture, ergonomics, Scheuermann's disease, and an illustration of Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame, see here and here.
Richard 111 (1452-1485) was known as the hunchback king of England. His burial site has recently been found (in February 2013), and his skeletal remains show that he also had Scoliosis. After his death his successors tried to discredit his life by using propaganda to appeal to the irrational prejudice that his spinal deformity was an outward indication of his moral deformity. The recent reports suggest that his skeleton shows scoliosis, and not hunchback physique as had been reported in the history books. However, In most cases spinal deformity is due to a weakness, softening, or injury of the spine, so when it curves sideways under the weight of the body it also curves forwards and backwards in some places. The recent report is based on pictures of his spine when discovered, where the sideways curvature is extreme and obvious, but he is laying on his back, so it is possible, that if he was buried in a grave which had hard ground at it's base, that any forward curve in his spine may have flattened out as his flesh degraded after death, and with the passage of time. © See a picture of his skeleton when it was found here.
David Helfgott, whose life was portrayed in the movie "Shine", had poor eyesight as a child, which probably caused his poor posture, and, in turn his health problems. See his piano posture here. You can compare his posture with the straight spine and deep chest of Winifred Atwell here.
Claire Weekes noted
that her palpitations of the heart occurred when she went to
bed at night and woke up, and when she leaned her chest against
her typewriter. She started to worry about her heart which made
the problem worse, and when she relaxed and stopped worrying
in a chair and writing at a desk aggravated his hemorrhoids, so he wrote his novels standing
Frederick Matthias Alexander lost his voice while speaking
on stage and later discovered that it was because he changed
the angle of his head, neck (and throat) while giving speeches. He then
developed a way of correcting his posture which cured his voice problem, and then he noticed that he stopped getting the indigestion
and the chest and lung infections which had bothered him since
childhood. His method for improving posture became known as The Alexander Technique. "Among his students were George Bernard Shaw, John Dewey, and Aldous Huxley, together with many luminaries from the London theater, and a wide range of people recommended to him by doctor friends who considered his work of great benefit . . . included among his clientele the Chief of Staff of the British army and Bishop William Temple who later became Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Church. On the US side, along with Prof. John Dewey, his clientele included historian James Harvey Robinson, philosophers Horace Kallen and Randolph Bourne, educationalist and founder of Art Therapy, Margaret Naumberg, and commercial tycoons such as James B.Duke"(see here).
Nowadays his technique is world famous, and is still being taught in singing and acting schools and universities. F.M.Alexander was described as standing in an odd manner as a child, so his postural problems may have been due to an abnormality in his feet or spine. See also here
Mel Cameron was a Former 5DN radio announcer of Adelaide, South Australia, had an area designed to keep his posture remained upright to ensure that his voice remained healthy and strong.
(Famous pop singers, and opera singers such as Luciano
have straight spines, and often a broad and large or barrel shaped
chest, which allows for a high volume of air to be stored in
the lungs, and the wide base provides maximum unimpeded movement
of the diaphragm, and they sing with their head held upright
so that there is no pressure on the voice box (larynx), and the airway is fully open.
They also have a forward angled sternum which gives plenty of
room between the spine and the front of the ribcage for the stomach
to function freely, and that allows for maximum digestion).
Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister appears to have an abnormal curvature in her lower spine which was possibly caused by wearing high heeled shoes during her youth.
Joe Hockey, Australian Liberal party politician and shadow treasurer of the opposition, although slightly overweight, has broad shoulders and a very deep chest conducive to good health.
Andrew Forrest of Fortescue Metals iron ore mining company, and now one of Australia's richest men, has an excellent posture, with broad shoulders and a deep chest.
Jim Parsons who plays the role of Sheldon Cooper in the popular TV show called The Big Bang Theory, has a C-shaped curvature in his upper spine, called kyphosis. The harmful effects of that posture would be offset by his forward angles breastbone. His spine shape can be seen here and here, and his forward angeld breast bone and the depth of his chest can be seen here.
Walter Matthau is a famous actor who also had a forward curvature of his upper spine where the adverse health affects would have been offset by a slightly forward curvature of his upper spine. See the photo here and here.
Posture and sport
Many of the world's top marathon runners appear to be running upright, or slightly leaning backwards, which would throw the chest forward and maximise the chest size, and also the size of their lungs to provide the maximum amount of air being breathed, and hence increase their stamina for long distance running. It is also an advantage to Olympic sprinters.
See also an essay on Chi running, and other suggestions about how to run more efficiently with less strain and injury.
"A Chi runner has a straight back, but leans slightly, letting gravity pull the body forward. The legs are used for support between strides, not propulsion. A Chi runner also keeps the knees slightly bent and lands with a midfoot strike, directly under the body." (end of quote) here.
A brief summary of posture and sport: Many methods have been used to teach dancers, athletes, and sportsmen the importance of good posture, because it improves balance, and therefore reduces the strain on muscles and joints, and hence reduces the frequency and severity of injury, and improves recovery. It also improves the efficiency of movement and therefore increases power, speed, and stamina.
(Some causes of athletic injury include abnormal shape of the spine which puts more strain on particular vertebral joints than a normal shape which spreads the strain equally. Also, bow legs put more strain on the medial cartilages of the knees etc, making injury more likely. Abnormal foot shape can have a similar adverse effect. See here)
Golf According to PGA tour trainer Ben Shear people who sit at a desk or in their car all day are likely to have postural problems which involves the C-shape spine (when seen from the side). Such posture compresses the vertebrae of the spine together and causes problems for golfers because it makes it difficult to rotate the body when swinging the golf club, which is essential for getting the full force onto the ball. He recommends elevating, or straightening the spine when hitting the ball. He adds that good posture is also important in preventing spinal injuries. See an article by Ron Kaspriske here, and a YouTube video on how golfers can straighten their spine by lengthening it here, and a one minute YouTube video by Charlie King of New Rules Golf School about the importance of good posture as a way of preventing injury here.
Gymnastics After writing my theories about posture and health, I recalled that when I was a young gymnast I would get a sense of weakness in my lower spine when diving lengthwise over a vaulting horse and landing on the far end with my hands, and rotating my legs to do a 180 degree spin before dismounting. I didn't know why at the time, but I avoided such vaulting exercises anyway. However, I have since conclude that it was because I had scoliosis, or sideways curvature of the spine, which produced a minor weakness in that area. I did not get that sense of weakness in any other gymnastics activity. See examples of vaulting here and sommersaulting here.
Physique and chest shape in animals
The shape of the spine and chest also has a major influence on the health of animals. For example, Australia's famous race horse Black Caviar has a muscular physique, strong hips, a long body, and a larger chest than normal, and won 22 races in a row up to June 2012. The mare's physique has been compared to that of an earlier champion Phar Lap which had a heart size of 6.2 kg compared with the average 3.2 kg. See here.
Unfortunately the relationship between posture and health is often obscure, and appears to be contradictory and confusing and the recognition of it, and the emphasis placed on it's importance varies considerably from country to country and decade to decade. If the importance of good posture was ultimately agreed upon then the teaching of the subject would be, and should be an essential part of national and education policy.
Posture and Corset pressure - the cause of hundreds of ailments
After I wrote The Posture Theory and began looking into the whole area of posture and health I concluded that poor posture was the cause of countless aches and pains, and in one instance saw the comment that the eighteenth century hunchback poet, Alexander Pope wrote about his headaches, indigestion, and a thousand other aches and pains.
Some time later I found a nineteenth century book which contained a list of about 100 ailments which prominent medical men had attributed to the pressure on internal anatomy that was caused by tight corsets. It was called "Madre Natura versus The Moloch of Fashion" written by Luke Limner in 1874.
I later found a research paper from 1887 which considered and measured the mechanical pressure on the internal cavities of the chest and abdomen caused by corsets and posture. The following words are a quote from it's introduction . . .
"RIDICULE, argument, and invective have been freely expended upon the artificial small waist since the days of Martial and Galen. Yet the habit of corset-wearing has received little systematic study, and men's opinions are widely at variance. We frequently meet with the statement that corset-wearing works great injury; we discover a catalogue of five-and-ninety different diseases and disorders due to tight lacing." Reference R. L. Dickinson M.D. (November 5, 1887), Questions of pressure and displacement, The New York Medical Journal, here.
As I continued to add such evidence to my book called The Posture Theory it eventually exceeded a thousand pages.
hypothetical posture experiment
anyone wants to challenge my theory there is always a simple
experimental way of discrediting it, but no-one would ever do
the it because everyone without exception, would have
doubts about their own opinion.
is the experiment: In the nineteenth century many mothers made
their four year old children wear tight waisted corsets, and
continue to wear them as their bodies developed so that they
reached adulthood with a permanent (and supposedly attractive)
hour glass figure. Most of those children developed horrendous
health problems, and the life expectancy of women who consistently wore corsets
with 13 inch waists was 35 years.
there is anyone who disagrees with me about similar problems
being caused by poor posture, you could put a spring rod along
the spine of a four year old child, and attach it to a chest
band at the midriff to ensure that as the child grew, the upper
spine would be drawn forward into a stoop, the breast bone would
incline backwards, and the waist would buckle at the midriff
until the child reached adulthood with their lower ribs pressed
against their hip bones. Their heart, lungs, stomach, and kidneys
would be crushed, and they would have more aches and pains than
the hunchback poet Alexander Pope, and they would be dead before
they were thirty.
you still disagree with my theory, you should take full responsibity
for the experiment, because I would not give anyone permission
to do it. The harmful consequences are obvious to me.
is also obvious that the effect on health would be influenced
by the degree of stoop, the shape of the chest, and other related factors.
In his play RICHARD III, Shakespeare seems to have seen the connection between pressure and symptoms when he wrote: "Oh, cut my laces in sunder, that my pent heart may have some scope to beat, or else I swoon."
Translated into modern English and Posture Theory context would be: " Oh, cut the laces of my corset to relieve the pressure on my heart which is confined to such a small chest, so that it can have room to beat, and allow the blood to flow from my feet to my brain, or else I will faint."
WHY I STARTED THIS
1. In 1975 I wanted to find a way of explaining why a person would
feel faint each time they leaned toward a desk, and why the faintness would be relieved each time they leaned back.
to study the relevant information and soon found that a set of
associated symptoms were a part of a condition called Da Costa's
syndrome, and later, that such patients were usually sedentary
workers with thin physiques with long, narrow, or flat chests,
and stooped spines.
Some years later I read about a scientific method
called Valsalva's Maneuver where a person pinches their nose,
and holds their mouth shut, and attempts to forcibly breath out.
That process increases the air pressure in their chest and compresses
the blood vessels to reduce the blood flow passing through the
chest from the feet to the brain.
4. I eventually concluded
that leaning forward at a desk was compressing the air in the
chest to cause the faintness.
5. However, I needed to
explain why such an obvious cause of symptoms was not common
knowledge and why people were arguing with me when I explained
it. I eventually concluded that most people who leaned forward
would not feel faint because their spines were straight and they
naturally bent at the hips, and would not compress their chests,
but people with stooped spines and flat chests would tend to
bend at the waist, and compress their waist and the blood vessels
inside as their chest moved forward and down.
6. I also
assumed that a sedentary worker who leaned forward ten times
a minute to read or write for many years or decades would eventually
strain and weaken the blood vessels of the abdomen until the
slightest compression of the chest reduced the blood flow to
the brain, and that only in extreme cases would a person feel
faint every time they leaned forward.
7. Most healthy people
would never feel faint when leaning forward, and it would probably
be rare for it to be so obviously related to leaning forward
in Da Costa's syndrome, but those patients experience faintness,
dizziness, and fatigue at other times without knowing why, and
although there are many other theories to explain the symptoms,
none have been proven.
8. The most popular theory is that the condition is
caused by work stress or anxiety, and when the patient says that
the work is not stressful and that they have nothing to be anxious
about they are told that it is due to "free floating"
anxiety, or "sub-conscious" anxiety related to forgotten
9. Some psychologists also argued
that nineteenth century women often felt faint because of psychological
factors, and that their typical fainting spells disappeared in
the early twentieth century because of advances in psychotherapy,
however those women wore tight waisted corsets and they relieved
the fainting spells by unlacing their corsets, and corsets went
out of fashion in the early twentieth century because of scientific
and public debates which concluded that corsets were extremely
harmful to health.
10.Similar, but less severe symptoms nowadays relates to the fact that many women still wear girdles, or other garments to narrow their waist, and men wear belts which restrict the downward and forward movement of the abdominal contents and therefore increase the pressure caused by stooping. Other factors have similar effects, and avoiding stooping, and loosening the belt would prevent or relieve symptoms or prevent them from getting progressively worse. M.B.
References which the theory.
Sir Thomas Lewis (1918) The Soldiers Heart and the Effort Syndrome, Shaw
& Sons, London p. 20-29: A large percentage of soldiers who
developed the Effort Syndrome had poor physiques and long, narrow
or flat chests associated with a kyphotic curve (hunchback spine)
and many came from sedentary occupations. "It is unquestionable
that many men recruited from sedentary occupations were affected
by the condition before joining, although previous to that event
in their life-history symptoms had never manifested themselves. The question naturally arises as to the extent to which sedentary
work predisposes to the affection; no conclusive answer can be
returned from the data at our disposal, though these strongly
suggest sedentary work as a predisposing cause". Some of
those soldiers experienced giddiness when standing up suddenly,
or more rarely, even when laying down, and "a number of
tested patients complained of equal giddiness when moved on a
swingboard into the lying position" . . . and this . . ."seems to be associated with faulty distribution of the
circulating blood during the period of giddiness".
Sir Thomas Lewis (1937) Diseases of the Heart 2nd edition, MacMillan and
Co., Limited, London p.97-98 and p.158-164: There is a rare type
of postural faintness which is associated with the faulty distribution
of blood which tends to accumulated in the abdominal veins. This
is closely related to cases where the person feels faint when they stoop down to lace their boots or lift heavy weights, and it occurs because the mechanical or muscular action compreses the abdomen and squeezes the blood out of the abdominal veins. When they stand up again the blood takes a few moments longer
to fill the veins, and in the meantime blood flow to the heart
and brain is diminished.
See also; Scientific measurements
of the pressures in the chest and abdomen which are created by
wearing tight belts or corsets or by leaning toward a sewing
machine or desk, etc. in the following reference . . .
Robert L.Dickinson (November 25th 1887) "The Corset: QUESTIONS OF PRESSURE AND DISPLACEMENT", New York Medical Journal here
The health problems of sedentary workers
due to postural pressure, not psychosomatic factors
Note that when I started studying these matters the most popular and widely accepted ideas were that the symptoms were psychosomatic and due to the psychological stresses associated wit sedentary work.
However, I was getting symptoms when I leaned forward to read or write, and to lean forward to tie up my shoes laces, or the clean low windows etc. so I knew that it had nothing to do with psychological stress.
Furthermore I would get aching kidneys when I leaned toward a desk to count coins, and I had fifth year level mathematics qualifications, but much of the book work which caused me health problems was primary school level arithmetic.
See my experience with sedentary work here and one of my ideas about it here
POSTURE THEORY AND DA COSTA'S SYNDROME
The Posture Theory explains
the cause of many health problems, but more specifically, it
is a way of explaining the cause of chest pains, palpitations,
breathlessness, faintness, and fatigue which occur in the absence of any evidence
of heart disease. Those symptoms are characteristic of a common
medical condition known as Da Costa's Syndrome which was named
after Jacob Mendez Da Costa who, in 1871, was the first medical researcher
to note that they seemed to occur as a set in many individuals.
Those symptoms can occur at any time, but particularly during exertion. Therefore The Posture Theory is essentially
a way of explaining the symptoms of Da Costa's Syndrome which
could perhaps, in relevant cases, now be referred to as The Posture
Da Costa's original 1871 research article
Da Costa's reported his observations of almost 300 patients,
and provided the basis for the diagnostic criteria which included the typical features of chest pain, dizziness, breathlessness, palpitations, and fatigue that were associated
with a poor physique, a thin chest, marching at double quick
pace, hard field service, and viral infections, and he noted that the waist
belt of the knapsack seemed to be aggravating the symptoms. The pulse was influenced
by position, such as stooping, laying on the left and right side in some
cases, and the back in others, and the condition was relieved
by improved physique. Recommended treatment included not wearing
clothing which constricts.
Reference: Da Costa, J.M. (January
1871) "On Irritable Heart," The American Journal of
the Medical Sciences
The Cause and Nature of the Symptoms of Da Costa's
ache, and lower back pain
These symptoms involve a dull ache in the neck,
or sharp pain in the mid neck, or sharp pain between the shoulder blade and the neck, or cricks in the neck, and dull aching in
the lower back. They occur because a stooped spine (kyphosis)
throws the weight of the head, shoulders, and chest forward to
put a mechanical strain on all of the bones, muscles and ligaments
of the spine. Furthermore, when the upper spine is stooped the
neck is more arched than usual, disposing to neck ache, and any scoliosis, or sideways curvature of the spine will put more strain on one side disposing to aching at the spinal joint central to the curve. That can in turn dispose to aches in the shoulder, arm, and muscle relating to the nerve coming from that side of the neck joint.
may also be a compensatory increase in the forward and sideways curve of the lower
spine which can increase the mechanical strain and incidence
of low back pain.
Sideways curvature of the spine
compresses one side of the ribs excessively and lifts the other
side abnormally giving the tendency for neck ache, back muscle
pain, and stabbing pains in the chest to occur more on one side
of the spine than the other.
Lower left-sided chest pain - The most typical
pain is a sharp stabbing sensation occurring perhaps 2 or 3 times
in a year (or more rarely) in the lower left side of the chest,
and is probably due to postural strain on the structures between
the ribs which produces a tendency to the pain. It may occur
at any time when sitting relaxed or standing, and it feels as
if a 3 inch sewing needle is suddenly stabbed in and out of the
ribs and is over within a fraction of a second, as if a nerve
has been pinched. It's occurrence on one side of the chest is
probably related to sideways curvature on the spine (scoliosis)
placing more pressure on one side, and stretching the ribs apart
on the other, and it occurs on the opposite side of the curve.
It occasionally occurs on the right side as well.
There is also a dull ache occurring in
the same location, and is probably due to strain from the pressures
of constant posture, but the pain does not actually occur except
when running, and then only rarely. When it does occur, it happens
every time the persons foot touches the ground, so that the ache
may be felt 100 times in a one hundred yard jog along beach sand.
The third type of chest pain occurs in
the extreme left side of the chest, and is due to severe cramp in the
muscles of the chest under the arm. It is equivalent to severe
cramp in the calf muscle of the leg. It has been described as
being brought on by muscular effort, such as cranking a car engine,
in which case it is on one side of the chest related to which
arm was used to crank the engine. Exactly the same pain can be
felt on both sides of the chest where it is brought on by prolonged
laughing, and it may be accompanied by difficulty breathing,
because inhaling expands the chest and stretches the muscles
and aggravates the severity of the cramp. The cramp will also
be made worse by trying to lift or move an arm because such movements also stretch the muscles of the chest,
so that the person has to stay in a semi crouched position, and
the pain will cease only when laughing stop.
According to a website called About.com Orthopedics, inflammation of the rib cartilages can be caused by repetitive pressure on that area of the chest, which is seen in some athletes, such as competitive rowers. The inflammation of the ribs is also called 'costrochondritis, and Tieze's syndrome. See here - such athletes lean forward repetitively, in a similar way that clerical workers lean forward to read and write at a desk. See my diagram here.
Breeches of my copyright
See also costrochondritis here, and my report on the copyright theft of my observations and ideas about cause here.
of the heart - This symptom involves
the perception of the heart beating in combination with it tending to accelerate and pound
faster and faster in an alarming way which does not seem to slow
very easily. It can occur at any time of the day or night but
often just after laying down to go to sleep. The problem seems
to relate to laying down in the normal way, but can be prevented by laying down on the back slowly and resting with the head slightly raised on three pillows for a few moments, and then removing a pillow, and resting
on two, and then one. The gradual movement backwards seems to
offset the symptom. The problem also seems to be worse in any
situation where the pulse rate is likely to increase such as
when a person is anxious just before standing in front of an
audience to give a speech.
There are probably three factors contributing
to the symptom. The first is the curved shape of the upper spine,
the second is the shape of the chest, and the third is the shape of the heart. The heart and ribcage can be compared to a bird
in a bird cage. If the birdcage is large then the bird can flap
its wings comfortably, but if the bird cage is small then its
wings will bang against the wire frame of the cage, and if a
person has a small ribcage, then the beating heart will pound
against the chest wall and be more easily noticed. If the person
becomes worried that there is some indication of heart disease
then the worry will accelerate the rate and make the problem
The perception of heartbeat can also be
compared to the pulse rate which no-one is aware of until they
place their fingers over the artery in their arm. With slight pressure on the fingers nothing can be noticed, but by pressing
the fingers against the artery its wall can be felt each second
as a pulse of blood passes through it. Similarly if the heart
is squeezed into a small chest, then its beating may be more
readily noticed each time it pounds against the chest wall.
Similarly people with broad and deep chests
and rib cages have hearts which are pyramid in shape and they
would sit stable in the chest, but people with long narrow or
flat chests tend to have bowling pin shaped hearts which would
tend to wobble about when beating fast, and that would produce
a different and perhaps more alarming sensation.
Consequently the palpitation may be felt
when a person lays down at night because, as they lay back the curve of the upper spine straightens out and drags the front of the chest backwards and compresses it against the heart, so that
its beating can be felt. That may explain why the symptom can
sometimes be prevented by laying back slowly. or
by sleeping in a semi-sitting position with the head raised and the spine remaining curved in a C-shape to maximize the size of the chest space.
The palpitations may also perhaps relate
to excess amounts of blood pooling in the veins of the legs,
so that when the person lays on their back, the sudden removal
of the gravitational load on the blood causes and excess volume
to flow toward the heart chambers with temporary greater force.
In other respects such patients, and anyone
else who has problems with a pounding heart when giving speeches,
the symptom can be prevented or relieved by having a small glass
of wine a few minutes earlier to relax the heart muscle (alcohol is a muscle relaxant which passes immediately through the stomach
wall to the heart muscle nearby). It may also be useful to take a few slow, regular, and deep breaths to stabilise the position
of the diaphragm which the heart sits on, and to use a prepared
speech, so that the element of doubt is removed from the talk.
I developed these ideas more than 30 years ago and have been improving them ever since, because they are effective. Recently, on a Channel 9 TV morning news programme it was reported that astronauts returning from space flights had a problem with faintness. A spokesman from NASA attributed to the lack of gravity in space. They had developed a new method of treating the problem which involved exercising on a stationary bike with their head and spine tilted back, and said it was effective because it reduced the effect of gravity on the blood in the body.
Their ideas are essentially the same as some of the ideas that I developed. See more in the faintness section here
This is a quote from the Medical Unit, or the abc NEWS website
"The exercise program is intended to help the heart grow in some patients and in others to condition the heart muscle and prevent fainting.
“It involves exercises that avoid gravity,” Jaeger said. “And for the first time ever we actually have a way to turn around the person’s symptoms and actually cure them.”
For Chandler, the prescription is simple. She eats salty food to keep her blood pressure up, tilts her bed when she sleeps to keep her blood flowing, and she exercises on a recumbent bike.
“I actually bought a recumbent bike,” she said. “I will be using that more often now to build up my heart muscle. I want to be at my best.”
Chandler and some others are now free from fainting spells, thanks to a little help from “The Right Stuff.” See here
(Note that in some people where the cause has been short term, such as astronauts, the condtion probably is curable, but for many people the ailment is not due to a temporary or long term lack of exercise, and is manageable, but not curable).
Leaing forward is the cause, leaning back is the cure
According to my theory it is repeatedly leaning forward which compresses the air in the chest and strains and damages the blood vessels below the chest that eventually causes faintness. According to NASA the cure involves exercising while laying back on a recliner bike, which takes the load of gravity of the blood.
spine is straight and the chest is deep the heart has a lot of
room to function normally.
When the spine is stooped
and the chest
is shallow the heart is occupies a much smaller space
and is in closer contact with the breastbone. Consequently its
beating is more easily felt as it pounds against the breastbone.
(the breastbone is also called the sternum)
type as a diagnostic criteria for DaCosta's Syndrome
(The breathlessness of DaCosta's
Syndrome inolves forced deep breaths associated with low oxygen
consumption, or hypoventilation during exertion, which makes it similar to, but distinct from
or excess rapid shallow breathing, which is caused by anxiety
or stress -
The use of this
observation as a distinguishing diagnostic criteria for DaCosta's
Syndrome is copyright and may not be applied without prior arrangement
Breathlessness - This symptom takes the form of an air hunger
where the person takes a full and deep breath until inhaling
reaches its limit and can't go any further. However they still
feel as if they have not got enough oxygen so they forcibly attempt
to breath even more deeply, like a forced yawn, and then they
have to take another two or three full breaths in quick succession.
The person then breaths at a normal rate for a few minutes and
may then have to reach for breath and forcibly inhale again.
Occasionally the person may bend at the hips, place their hands
on their thighs, and arch their back and expand their chest to
inhale with greater force and effectiveness.The symptom may occur
every few minutes or every few hours or only once or twice a
month, and may occur at any time of the day or night, regardless
of whether the person is sitting, standing, or resting, or laying,
and it occurs more frequently in cold weather, and more often
when walking, especially up a hill, and much more often when
slowly jogging, in which case the quick successon of forced breaths
may be required as often as every 10-50 yards. see also here, and : ref
22 Wolf S. 1947
There is sometimes a slightly different
but similar symptom which involves the need to take deep yawns.
The symptom is also aggravated by wearing
any tight clothing which restricts the expansion of the chest during the inhalation
phase of the breathing cycle. For example having a snugly fitting
and inflexible belt strapped around the chest can cause extreme
respiratory distress during the inhalation attempt.
The breathlessness can also sometimes be
caused by leaning toward a desk or bench which involves bending
at the waist or rib line. That type of bending pushes the breastbone
backwards and compresses the chest and abdomen, and restricts
the upward and downward movements of the diaphragm,
thereby restricting both the chest and abdominal phases of breathing,
so the symptom probably results from an anatomical strain or
damage brought on by many years of constant or repeated compression
of the lungs or diaphragm. The postural pressure may have damaged
the lungs so that the amount of oxygen passing from the lungs
to the blood stream is impaired, or it may have damaged the diaphragm
(the main breathing muscle) and altered its natural and normal
function. The exact anatomical basis for the symptom is not clear.
A related feature of Da Costa's syndrome is CO2 intolerance, and also, distressing symptoms are brought on by wearing a gas mask, and it probably relates to the confined space of the mask, and the build up of excess vie CO2 in that small space. With normal breathing in fresh air, the CO2 dissipates immediately.
This is a quote from J.M.Da Costa's original research paper of 1871 page 25 . . .
"it was astonishing that the respiration was so little hurried. And, as a general rule, it may be stated that this curious disorder presents the anomalous condition that increased action of the heart does not give rise to increased frequency of breathing; we find in it a peculiar pulse respiration ratio." (end of quote) He then cites some examples of me with pulse rates of 124 and respiration of 25, and pulse of 146 and respiration of 26, and pulse of 192 and respiration of 26, and he gives one exception to the rule."(end of quote) (Some authors make the mistake of thinking that this symptoms is panic induced hyperventilation)
A stooped spine compresses
the air in the lungs and a small chest restricts the
volume of air in the lungs and disposes to breathlessness,
also called dyspnea,
and lung and breathing disorders.
A broad based rib
cage allows for slow deep breathing, whereas a narrow
base disposes to shallow and rapid breathing, congestion of the lungs, lung infections such as chest colds, and abnormal function
of the lungs, and abnormal function of the diaphram breathing
muscle, which results in faulty CO2 metabolism,.
Seventeenth century women wore extremely
tight corsets which deformed their ribs into a funnel shape, and led them to
die young with lungs which were described as being in a state
of "withering rottenesse" see references: Anthropometamorphosis.
Nineteenth century women who wore tight waisted whalebone corsets
would typically heave with breathlessness brought on by the slightest
emotion or exertion.
Note however, that the breathing of Da Costa's syndrome involves slow and shallow respiration, which may be why there is a build up of oxygen debt which requires them to occasionally take extra deep breaths two or three times in a row, to make up for that lost oxygen intake. (i.e. it is definitely not the type of rapid and shallow breathing seen in anxiety or panic).
"All crooked or constrained
bodily positions affect respiration injuriously. Reading, writing,
sitting, standing, speaking, and working with the trunk of the
body bent forward are extremely hurtful by overstretching the
muscles of the back, compressing the lungs, and pushing downwards
and backwards the stomach, bowels, and abdominal muscles." Reference: George Black,
M.B., Edinburgh, (1910), The Doctor at Home and Nurse's Guide-Book,
revised edition, Ward, Lock & Co., Limited, London, Melbourne
and Toronto. pages 77-78.
and dizziness - The type of faintness is a sense of light headedness, and a feeling as if about to
lose consciousness and fall to the ground, and it can be associated
with unstable or low blood pressure. Some patients do actually faint from time to time, but others often feel a sense of faintness
but never actually lose consciousness, and the symptom may be
slightly or much more distressing than any normal sense of faintness,
and occurs in response to minor, or sometimes very slight movements
of the body. Sometimes there is another sensation, especially
with rotation of the body, of an odd and distressing sensation
in the chest, as if the heart is about to stop beating.
The faintness most commonly occurs when
getting out of bed and standing up suddenly in the morning, (orthostatic intolerance) and can be prevented by getting up slowly,
and first sitting on the side of the bed, and then standing slowly
and walking off at a casual pace. The symptom may occur throughout
the day at any time especially if the person gets out of a seat
and stands up suddenly, rather than slowly, and it may be a more
or less constant feeling, or occur several times a day or a week,
or several times a month.
It may also occur when the person leans
forwards at a desk and in very extreme cases if they lean forward
to write 10 times, they will feel faint each time, and sitting
up and leaning back slightly each time will relieve the faintness,
so the sense of faintness comes and goes 10 times, and continues
in that manner until the person stops repeatedly leaning forward.
(note: scroll down to fig.15 for a leans
forwards at a desk link which reports on corsets, leaning
forward to write, and scientific pressure measurements in 1887).
The problem is greater if the person is
squatting as they lean forward.
The faintness also occurs whenever the
person is subjected to centrifugal forces such as when they are
a passenger in a car which speeds around a curve in a country
road, or if they are a passenger in a swirling amusement park
ride, or on an up and down or winding roller coaster, and in
fact, many patients avoid such entertainment activities altogether.
It also occurs when a lift in a tall building accelerates to
start its upward journey, and decelerates to stop, and in a plane
which accelerates at the start of its flight , or suddenly drops
in a down draught, or decelerates to land.
The symptom also occurs sometimes to an
extremely alarming degree when a patient is placed on a tilt table,
and it is moved up and down and rotated sideways at various angles to get different X-ray images of the patient.
The symptom is due to a weakness in the
circulation of blood in the body (hence the term neurocirculatory
asthenia) and is often seen to a minor degree in many fast growing
teenagers who have a condition called sway back, probably because
that posture puts pressure on the chest or kidneys. However many
teenagers grow out of their sway back and the symptom becomes
a thing of the past, but in other people it starts in adulthood
and takes a more persistent course. It is also more common with
people who have a stooped upper spine and a flat chest, probably
because the downward postural pressure on the chest impedes the
blood flow from the legs to the heart and brain. That constant
pressure may actually stretch all of the blood vessels below
the waist so that they become more elastic, or so that there
is an abnormally disproportionate amount of the bodies blood
below the waist which is more subject to being displaced by any
type of gravitational or centrifugal force. To a lesser extent
this is evident as orthostatic
hypotension related to varicose veins below the garter
line of the leg, where pressure impedes the upward flow of blood
and damages the tone of the leg veins so that blood tends to
pool in them and be delayed in it's return to the heart when
the person stands up suddenly.
The faintness is also likely to be a problem
if the person wears a tight collar which reduces blood flow to
the brain, and can be relieved by loosening the collar, and was
very common amongst nineteenth century women who wore tight waisted
whalebone corsets. Those women routinely relieved their fainting
spells by unlacing their corsets and laying on their backs with
their head and shoulders slightly elevated on the arm of a chaise
lounge, in the then common fainting
rooms, A similar beneficial effect on spinal posture
and the symptom can be achieved by laying in a modern recliner
chair tilted slightly back.
A milder from of this could be the orthostatic
hypotension caused by wearing leg garters which results in varicose
veins below the garter line, where excess blood pools, and is
delayed in it's upward flow when the person stands up suddenly,
and which occurs because those veins have lost the strength to
respond appropriately. The symptom of faintness or dizziness
in Da Costa's syndrome would also occur in response to any gravitational
or centrifugal force acting on the body, except much more readily
and severely, which is why such patients avoid entertainment
activities like roller
coaster rides, whereas healthy people find the experience
exciting and enjoyable..
The dizziness is a slightly different sensation which sometimes
involves a sense of obscure fuzzines at the back of the head
in an area just above the top vertebrae of the spinal colum,
and or, a sensation of the inside of the head, or the outer walls
and ceiling of a room swirling, but not always, and it seems
to occur as a mixture of dizziness and faintness, with a sense
of being about to lose consciousness. It is most commonly brought
on by bending the neck back to look up at items on tall cupboards.
It is probably the result of that neck position putting pressure
on the blood vessels in the neck and interfering with the efficiency
of blood flow to the brain.
Dizziiness also occurs to a more significant
degree than normal with rotational movements of the body. This
is probably because, with normal posture, the head is balanced
directly above the spine, but when a person has a stooped spine
the head is thrown forward by at least six inches forming a radius
about the spine, and therefore the outer extreme of the head
turns in a large circle with a diameter of at least twelve inches,
thereby throwing blood outwards from the neck with greater centrifugal
force. Therefore, in persons with an abnormal stooped curvature
in the upper spine, the dizziness can be relieved or minimized
by deliberately forcing the spine to be straight and thereby
positioning the head directly about the spinal colum with the
head more slowly rotating about the spin of the feet.
The dizziness may also be partly due to
a weakness in the blood vessels below the chest where some of
the blood in the lower body is thrown excessively outwards with
the spin and reducing blood flow to the brain.
In the nineteeth century women wore tight waisted corsets
for most of their lives. Such corsets compressed the stomach
and forced the liver, spleen and kidneys downwards, straining
and permanently stretching the attachments, such as the ligaments,
blood vessels, and nerves which held them in their correct place
in the midriff. Consequently the liver and spleen etc hung loose
and would slide up and down and side to side excessively in response
to gravitational or centrifugal forces such as roller coaster rides or even such minor movements on the
moving tilt table (here). Those forces would therefore also
temporarily and excessively stretch the blood vessels and weaken
the blood flow to the heart, which probably explains why the
patients feel an extreme sense of distress in their chest, and
an extreme and reduced blood flow to the brain would account
for the alarming sense of to-ing and fro-ing faintness with each
change of direction. See also here
Furthermore as the liver etc. swung loosely against the abdominal
wall, or downwards against the blood vessels from the legs the
affect would be magnified.
Poor posture also pushes the liver, stomach and spleen etc.
Nineteenth century corset wearers would typically faint with
the slightest emotion or exertion, and would relieve the faint
by unlacing the corset and laying on a chaise
lounge which had an arm at one end so that the woman
could rest against it with her head and shoulders slightly elevated,
and with her legs free to extend at the other. Some were housed
in purpose built fainting
Some people feel palpitations of their heart when they
lay down on their backs too suddenly. That is probably because
they have loose livers etc which slide toward their heart and
they can therefore feel its beating, in a similar way to the
fact that they can feel the pulse in their wrist if they apply
pressure from their hand onto the wrist artery.
That would explain why the problem can be avoided by laying
down very slowly and gradually.
In the early twentieth century some surgeons cured the problems
by sewing the liver etc onto the diaphram to keep them in a more
normal position. However the symptoms returned again in a year
for reasons which were not understood but it may have been because
the patients kept wearing corsets or slouching and pushing down
against the weak surgical stitching until it gave way.
When a person with a loosely attached liver and stomach
stands up the liver etc slides downwards and makes the lower
abdomen bulge excessively into a pot belly shape. That would
put pressure on the blood vessels which bring blood from the
feet to the heart, and may explain why some people feel
faint when suddenly standing up as they get out of bed
in the morning, or at any other time.
That would also explain why the faintness can be minimised
or avoided by standing up gradually, and walking off slowly for
a few seconds.
to sleep problems and exercise limitations -
Some patients report that they have suffered from fatigue for as long as they can remember so they were probably born with
the problem, and some report that they know that they are now
troubled by fatigue, but they cannot recall any particular time
or incident when it started, and others report that it started
over a period of time (months or years) when it seemed to gradually
get worse without being particularly troublesome until it became
so severe that they had to rest, and that they had to rest for
months or years to recover, and that they never fully recovered
. They may in fact report that the fatigue accrues in an obscure
way until they reach a state of extreme exhaustion again, and
the process of recurring severe exhaustion may happen three or
four times over a period of a decade before they decide to restrict
their lifestyle as a means of preventing the relapses. The fact
that the fatigue does not respond in the expected manner of being
relieved by rest or sleep and the fact that it tends to accrue
over a period of weeks or months is one of its significant differences
from normal fatigue, which a person can easily recover from by
getting a good nights sleep etc.
During the development of the ailment the
instability of blood pressure, breathlessness, faintness, and
dizziness, and fatigue seem to occur as a linked sub-set of Da
In the extreme case the fatigue involves
restlessness, wakefulness, the inability to sleep for days or
weeks at a time, but later waking up several times at night and
not being able to get back to sleep again, and waking up tired,
and tiredness occurring several times throughout the day are
features. The tiredness sometimes but not always responds properly
to rest, and has the characteristics of a sleep disorder. The
symptom has sometimes been derogatorily referred to as TATTS
(tired all the time syndrome), which reflects ignorance about
the different qualities in the nature of the symptom, and the
sometimes profound severities of the condition which bare no
resemblance to normal tiredness, and continues to produce confusion
The bouts of fatigue may occur for weeks
or months undiminished, because there is no effective treatment
or medication for the problem, other than long term rest, mild
exercise, and the passage of time, which is why many patients
avoid the factors which induce them, and lead generally quiet
and moderate lifestyles.
There is also an exercise disorder where
the person is so weak that their heart may pound each time they
lift their foot of the ground as they walk slowly along the street.
They may be walking or jogging last in exercise training programmes
and have to reach for breath several times each 20 yards or so,
and if they exert themselves suddenly or sprint fast their heart
will pound violently and they will feel faint and dizzy and fall
to the ground and crawl about restlessly because restricting
their movements causes extreme physical distress inside the chest.
Consequently they have to give up the sporting activities that
they have participated in regularly in the past, and, because
of the distressing nature of the symptoms, most of them refuse
to participate in remedial exercise programmes, or drop out of
the course soon after starting.
The fatigue seems particularly linked to
the faintness which occurs when
leaning forward, either toward a desk, a bench, a washing machine,
or the kitchen sink etc. As another example, in order
to clean low windows on a house it is necessary to squat down and lean forward. Each time the person leans forward they
feel faint, and if they choose to ignore the problem and keep
repeatedly leaning forward until all of the windows are finished,
and then stand up, they may feel faint and weak and exhausted.
After only that half an hour of minor effort in the morning they
will have to spend the entire afternoon resting in bed, and may
still be exhausted when they wake up the following day.
The link between faintness and fatigue
probably occurs because leaning forward compresses the chest,
heart, and lungs, and then the increased air pressure in the
lungs impedes blood flow from the feet to the brain. In that
regard there is an experimental procedure called the Valsalva's
Manouver which is used in scientific laboratories to
artificially produce the symptoms of stress in the absence of any psyhological factors. When this manouvre
is being used the patient is asked to pinch their nose shut,
and keep their mouth closed and exhale with force. As the air
cannot escape from the lungs the pressure builds up and impedes
the flow of blood from the feet to the brain. The brain and nervous
system then react with a reflex that stimulates and contracts
the blood vessels of the legs, which increases the blood pressure
to force the blood to go upwards through the compressed vessels
in the chest. Hence there is a relationship between air pressure
in the lungs, the nervous system, and blood pressure.
>Consequently if a person was constantly
or repeatedly leaning toward a desk or bench for many years they
would also be blocking blood flow from the feet to the brain
and putting a lot of pressure on the blood in the veins below
the chest. Such long term pressure might affect the tone of the
walls of those vessels, or gradually damage them, and weaken
the upward flow of blood, and become a disorder of circulation
(i.e. vascular dystonic circulatory asthenia). In fact this form
of fatigue has been called neurocirculatory asthenia - a weakness
of circulation, and neurocirulatory dystonia - a disorder of
circulation due to abnormal tone in blood vessels). The weakness
of blood flow to the brain would account for poor concentration,
poor memory, and problems with wakefulness and sleep which are
all common in DaCosta's syndrome. Furthermore the weakness of
blood flow from the feet to the heart would account for the faintness
which occurs when standing
up suddenly, or when standing up from a squatting position,
and it would also explain the
weakness in the bodies response to sudden, vigorous, or rapid
Hence there is a link beween posture, sedentary
work, constantly or repeatedly leaning forward, Valsalva's maneuver,
and transient, recurring, prolonged, or chronic symptoms of tiredness,
faintness, and physical exhaustion. The condition is common in
sedentary town workers, and rare in country farm laborers.
Posture Theory and Postural Valsalva's
Leaning forward with the mouth
shut can compress the air in the chest and block blood flow between
the feet and the brain.
Chronic damage to the blood vessels
below the chest can lead to chronic sleep and exercise disorders.
If this is the mechanism for causing
a type of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, then they type could be called
The Posture Fatigue Syndrome . . .
See a reference with the scientific measurement of air pressure in the chest relating to posture and corsets by Robert L. Dickinson M.D. (November 5, 1887), Questions of pressure and displacement, The New York Medical Journal, here
Response to Exertion, and it's possible relation to Abnormal
Sighing Respiration ©
In Da Costa's syndrome there
is an excessive tendency to sigh which occurs at variable intervals,
but it sometimes takes the form which can be explained as if
there is a standard depth and rate of breathing and oxygen absorption
into the lungs which is not being achieved, for one reason or
another, so the person tends to take an extra deep breath every
few minutes to make up for the lack of oxygen consumed during
that time. Sometimes the inhalation needs to be forced to achieve
the depth of breathing required to make up for the deficiency,
and sometimes two or three forced deep breaths may need to be
taken in quick succession. The need to take the extra sighs may
occur every few minutes, or several times an hour or day, or
month, and is more frequent during cold weather.
This becomes more noticeable
with exertion such as slow jogging where a normal healthy persons
breathing rate, volume and absorption increases according to
the extra amount of oxygen required for the exertion. However
with the type of breathing pattern seen in Da Costa's syndrome
it sometimes seems as if the breathing process does not properly
increase to meet the extra requirements for the effort of jogging,
so that they may accumulate a greater oxygen debt and need to
take two or three extra forced deep breaths every twenty yards
The same problem seems to occur
with sudden rapid sprinting but to a much greater extent. The
healthy persons breathing pattern adjusts to the oxygen requirements,
but with Da Costa's syndrome it seems as if the respiratory mechanism
is slow to adjust, so that after only twenty yards the person
may fall to their knees repeatedly gasping for breath, with their
heart pounding in their chest, and feeling faint, dizzy, and
excessively restless, and crawling about with extreme exhaustion
for 15 minutes or more, and be fatigued to a lesser extent for
a week or more, before resuming milder forms of exercise.
It may be a matter of the respiratory
reflex not working properly so that as the level of exertion
increases the breathing becomes shallower or the oxygen absorption
less, so that an oxygen debt builds up until the person feels
an obvous need for more air, and then forceably inhales to get
the extra oxygen required.
The explanation may not be entirely
correct in every detail, but it is close enough to portray the
difference between the healthy response ot exertion, and the
Da Costa syndrome response, and it may or may not be due to a
fault with the thoracic diaphram, or the autonomic nervous systems
regulation of breathing, and it may due to an abnormality of
breathing pattern rather than too much or too little, or to inefficient
respiratory efficiency which is worse as the level of exertion
increases, and many people with this problem were former athletes
who use exercise as a possible means of improving their fitness
to recover from the fatigue, so it is not due to a fear of exercise,
and it can occur when the person is otherwise relaxed, so it
is not due to an anxiety state, and it is probably not due to
any disease of the heart.
The purpose of this explanation
is to provide a conceptual way of understanding the differences
between the normal response to exertion, and the DaCosta's syndrome
response, where the difference is otherwise not recognised, or
is trivialised, or misinterpreted etc. It is subject to being
tested or disputed or to someone else coming up with a better
way of explaining the difference. This explanation was posted
on this website on 4-2-08. When referring to this explanation
please cite this website as the source, See also: Low
oxygen consumption and low ventilatory efficiency during exhausting
work in patients with neurocirculatory asthenia, effort syndrome,
anxiety neurosis, . . . See
also (re: the respiratory disorder is different to hyperventilation)
and chronic fatigue syndrome . . . and . . . The chronic fatigue syndrome and hyperventilation
pain - also called epigastric pain. The primary symptom is a dull ache of
varying intensity occurring periodically and occupying an area
the size of a 20 cent piece in the mid upper abdomen just below the tip of the dagger shaped breastbone, or sternum.
The pain is probably related to slouched
posture, sideways curvature of the spine, and chest
shape, Poor posture pushes the breast bone downwards,
sideways curvature alters the angle of the breastbone, and a flat
or funnel shaped chest involves a breastbone which is
vertical or receding. Hence when a person with such features leans forward the pointed tip of the dagger shaped breastbone is pushed downwards,
backwards, and sideways with a twisting motion into the area
where the food
pipe joins the stomach,
Such repeated action would make the valve like junction sensitive
to irritation, and be likely to allow small amounts of stomach
acid into the lower end of the food pipe, and possibly also weaken
the ligaments and muscles in the area permitting occasional sliding hernia. It might also compress the outlet of the stomach where
it joins the duodenum, or partially rotate
the stomach and twist it's outlet and block the flow
acid, which would therefore build up to an excess degree
in the stomach and cause tenderness and pain by irritating the
stomach wall, and in prolonged cases result in the formation
of lesions and peptic
ulcers. See also ulcers.
Regardless of the cause, the pain is induced
by repeatedly leaning forward for an hour or more, and when induced
it is aggravated by very minor postural movements. For example
it may then be aggravated by leaning forward to tie up shoe laces,
in which case the person should buy moccasin style, or slide
on shoes which can be put on without bending.
The abdominal pain is also aggravated by
wearing tight belts about the waist, or tight elastic bands on
underwear, so loose clothing should always be worn, and loose
waisted trousers can be held up by shoulder braces or suspenders,
rather than belts. Sometimes the pain is simply caused by the
belt pressure, and sometimes because, when the person slouches
the pressure from the belt resists the downward movement of abdominal
contents, so they are squeezed from above and below when the
person leans forward. On some occasions the relation to pain
is obvious but it is usually obscure, subtle, and delayed.
The more the pain is aggravated the worse
it gets and the longer the abdomen remains tender to the slightest
touch. By aggravating the problem for an hour the pain may persist
for several days, and by aggravating it for two or more hours
the pain may persist for weeks, and any strong strain on the
abdomen, as from digging forcefully into the garden and jolting
the abdominal muscles can make the pain persist for months. The
pain is also aggravated by stretching the arms upwards or sideways,
because the arm muscles are connected to the chest and abdominal muscles and drag on the diaphragm and the junction of the stomach and
The pain can be influenced by some foods.
Acid foods such as lemons and oranges, and also spicy foods should
be avoided. Also the problem disposes to constipation, so high
fibre foods should be included in the diet to keep constipation
to a minimum, but even some hight fibre foods, particularly cabbage,
and legumes (peas, beans and peanuts), should be avoided because
they can also aggravate the pain.
If the pain is aggravated in the morning,
it may subside in the afternoon, but commonly it may recur and
awaken the person at 2.a.m. in the morning perhaps because the periodic
peristaltic flow of food residue at night may pass the
area of pain and the bulging bowel may nudge the tender area
and produce the pain. (Similar to the way in which an egg produces
a bulge in the outer surface of a snake as it passes through
The irritation of that area of the abdomen
is near the solar plexus and some aspects of the ailment suggest esophageal
achalasia (faulty function of the valve like structure
joining the food pipe to the stomach). The fact that the severe
pain can sometimes be accompanied by difficulty swallowing and
can be relieved by a drug called Somac indicates the probable
involvement of heartburn due to more significant leakage of acid, and the fact that it
is often accompanied by severe constipation and multiple pains
and cramps in the bowel, indicates irritable
colon may be an additional or secondary problem.
It is therefore best to prevent the problem
by developing good posture during childhood. The pain can be
relieved by laying in a recliner chair, especially a dentists
chair which is shaped to push the lower abdomen forward and allow
the upper abdomen to arch up and take the tip of the breastbone
outwards away from the stomach. If the pain is only mild it can
often be completely relieved by laying in such a chair for only
half an hour, but if the pain is severe then such rest will only
produce slight relief. Laying in bed on the back also relieves
the problem but in severe cases it may be necessary to raise
the head and lift the knees as well to take all pressure of the
abdomen. As previously mentioned, it is also useful to always
wear loose clothing, avoid acid foods, include fibre in the diet,
and sometimes, if difficulty and pain swallowing food or water
is present, the drug Somac can be beneficial.
(Gastric reflux is another name for heartburn
and is the most common symtom of pregnancy and it is caused by the enlarging womb pressing up against the
stomach, and women report that laying down, stooping, or bending
brings on attacks. It is relieved by laying on the back with
the head and chest slightly elevated).
Click in an out of diagram to see the effects of slouching
When a person
with a stooped spine and a shallow shallow
chest leans forwards the torso buckles at the midrifff
and the pointed tip of the dagger shaped sternum stabs or digs into the junction of the stomach and foodpipe.
When a person with a
stooped spine and a deep chest leans forward the breastbone moves
away from the spine so the stomach is protected from harm. Note
the deep chested profile of Luciano
Pavarotti and the power in his voice that comes from the air in his large lungs passing through the vocal chords in his throat.
of abdominal pain occurs because the
lower ribs and the lower rib (or costal) cartilage of the rib
cage press and dig back into the liver and colon and
that process then pushes the structures behind them against the
back ribs. Consequently there may be tenderness or soreness in
the muscles and anatomy on the left and right side of the front
of the chest at, or just above or just below the lower rib line,
and a variety of pains along the track of the transverse
colon, especially on the extreme left or righ sides,
and tenderness or soreness in the left and right kidney area
and the back muscles at the same level of the torso.
Pain occurs whenever an anatomical
tubular structure is blocked because a biological reflex makes
the preceding section of the tube go into spasm in an attempt
to squeeze the contents forward with greater pressure in order
to force it past the blockage. Hence a lot of pain will be experienced
if a kidney stone blocks the ureter tube which drains it, and
similarly sustained postural pressure on the bends of the colon
may start a sequel of blockage, spasm, and pain.
pains: After being aggravated by
such minor problems as leaning forward repeatedly , or jarring
the stomach while digging in the garden, there may follow a period
of several months of severe pain. During those periods the pain
remains unabated from day to day for weeks or months until it
eventually subsides with time, and may be accompanied by severe
constipation, severe bowel cramps, multiple sites of diverticula
pin head sized pains along the entire track of the colon, sore
or frank protruding hemorrhoids, constipative evacuations which
on some occasions tear and put split lesions in the ring of the
anus to produce bright red streaks of blood in the excreta, and
muco-membranous colitis with the passage of opaque slithers of
the gut lining. Those pains do not respond effectively to any
form of treatment or medication, which is why many patients avoid
the minor aggravating factors as a means of prevention. However,
in most cases, even when the symptoms are severe, there is still
no x-ray evidence of disease, so many doctors trivialise it and
treat it as if it is mere indigestion because they either don't
believe, or can't understand or comprehend what the patient is
complaining about. The condition is not, or rarely associated
with, or aggravated by anxiety, and can occur, and persist when
a person is perfectly calm.
The abdominal symptoms are associated
with and, or involve varying degrees of colon spasm which is
referred to as Irritable
Bowel Syndrome, and were previously regarded as psychosomatic
disorders involving "learned Illness Behavior" until
the discovery of bacterial and other abnormalities in the colon
in the 1990's. Since then that diagnostic criteria has not been
applied to this category of illnesses, and by association are
not applicable to the other symptoms of DaCosta's syndrome. See:(IBS
ache - This is a dull ache in the
area behind the kidneys,
either in the back muscles or the kidneys themselves. It can
occur after sitting at a desk and leaning forward for several
hours and starts on one side, but if the activity continues the
ache will start on the other side as well. It sometimes seems
to be followed by alterations in urinary function and the development
of kidney stones. The ache is also brought on by exposure to
cold breezes which is why it occurs more often in winter.
As a general rule winter produces cold
breezes and summer produces warm air, but sometimes when walking
in summer with a cold sea breeze blowing on the back the chill
in the breeze will make one kidney ache, and soon after the next,
and once induced the aches will persist for days or weeks after.
This problem can be prevented by wearing a padded vest over the
The effects of pressure on the kidneys
is evident by the fact that people who are having kidney x-rays
are required to have a dye injected in their blood so that the
trace of the dye passing through the kidneys to the bladder will
show up on the image. Patients are asked to lay flat during the
x-ray procedure, because, if they slouch, the postural pressure
will compress the kidney sand their tubing and interfere with
the flow of the dye.
When Benjamin Franklin was 80 years old he had problems with kidney or bladder stones where he wrote "my sitting at the desk had
already almost killed me" and "the stone gave me much
pain, wounded my bladder and occasioned me to make bloody urine"
and said "when I attempted to write the pain would interrupt
my train of thinking" and that he had good health except
"being only troubled with the stone which sometimes gave
me more than a little pain and prevented my going in a carriage
where there are pavements" and sometime later he even had
trouble with the pain when standing or walking. (when a kidney
stone blocks a hollow tubular structure the walls of the tube
go into powerful and painful spasm in an attempt to force the
fluid within it past the blockage. Pain occurs if the stone doesn't
move and the pressure increases. Postural pressure which occurs
when leaning toward a desk would increase the pressure in the
fluid, as would the bouncing up and down action of a carriage
going over potholes etc, or in severe cases the simple act of
lifting the feet up and down as the person walks could have a
summary of The Posture Theory and Da Costa's Syndrome
The symptoms described
above are more consistent to those of Da Costa's Syndrome than
any other ailment.
When studying the
symptoms individually there were a lot of apparent differences
which sometimes seemed contradictory. For example, the faintness
could be caused by standing up suddenly, the dizziness by bending
the neck to look upwards, and one of the chest pains could be
caused by cranking a car engine, and another type by jogging
up and down along beach sand. The stomach pain could be caused
by wearing a tight belt all day, or by tieing up shoe laces,
and was more likely to occur in relation to various foods in
the diet, and the kidney ache could be brought on by exposure
of the back to cold breezes. The breathlessness is more likely
to occur when jogging, the palpitations can be relieved by a
glass of alcohol, and the fatigue involves problems with sleep
is one factor which is common to all of those symptoms, and that
is that at some time or other, in some way or other, they could
all be caused by leaning forward, particularly in activities
which require repeatedly leaning forward.
Most people are
involved in activities which require them to lean forward but
they don't get such symptoms and that is because, most people
have reasonably straight spines and reasonably deep chests. By
contrast patients with DaCosta's syndrome are typically thin
and stooped and they have flat chests. It is their physique which
causes the problem because when they lean forward their torso
bends at the lower rib line and the breastbone is pushed backwards.
Consequently when they lean forward they strain their spine and
compress their chest and abdomen and everything within to cause
the main symptoms of chest pains, palpitations, breathlessness,
faintness, and fatigue, and many others not so typical or so
commonly seen. Essentially the symptoms are disposed to - and,
or- caused by any combination of factors which compress the chest,
and restrict it's size, and thereby compound the mechanical pressure
on the rib cage and chest cavity, such as a stooped spine, and
small and thin chest, and in some cases, the enlarging womb of
pregnancy, and tight waist bands, belts, or corsets, and are
more likely to occur in any long term activity which involves
repeatedly leaning forward.
Hence the study
of those symptoms became a study of DaCosta's Syndrome, and then
The Posture Theory, and then the theory became a study of Posture
The typical face,
build, and posture of Da Costa's Syndrome
Also called the Effort Syndrome, and nowadays a main type of Chronic fatigue syndrome
The typical characteristics of something usually refers to those which distinguish it from others, or those which are most commonly encountered.
It therefore didn't surprise me when I read that the typical Da Costa's syndrome patient had been described as having a thin and stooped physique, because I had written the posture theory to explain my own symptoms, and I had that physique.
However, my theory evolved from observations that symptoms were related to leaning forward, and I wasn't fully aware of my own physique until after I wrote the theory and looked at myself sideways in the mirror. I then asked my neighbours for their opinion, and they said that I had a terrible posture, and that when I walked past them and they viewed me from the side my spine was S-shaped.
I have since noticed that chest shape and other factors are important.
However, many people will have such a physique and not be aware of it, and they will have the symptoms and argue with my assessment of the cause.
Furthermore, I have since concluded that there are several different causes and types of chronic fatigue syndrome, which adds to the confusion.
Consequently, some people are skeptical of my theory, and I have some extremely hostile critics, who try to argue that I am a fringy kook and that my ideas are nonsense.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that some of the world's top research authorities have described the thin and stooped physique as "typical" of such patients, and The Posture Theory explains cause and effect.
Pictured right: A Life-sized portrait painted by Ian
Tillard features the typical face, build, and posture of a patient
with Da Costa's Syndrome. It was displayed in the Museum of the
Post-Graduate Medical School of London. Reference: P.Wood, O.B.E. (1956) Diseases of the Heart and
Circulation, 2nd edition, p. 941.
(As far as I am aware it was considered so important that it was on display for several decades - some of the observers of that painting must have noticed the possibility that the physique was a significant determining factor in causing the typical symptoms, but no-one took it any further, or had any influence on the literature of the topic).
The stooped spine, thin physique, flat or backward angled chest, and sloping shoulders, are evident by the crinkling
of the coat which can be seen in the painting and has been used
as a visual guide to the diagnosis of kyphosis which otherwise
Individuals with such a physique typically lean on
tables and support the weight of their head and shoulders with
their elbows, and their breathing generally requires more effort
because each time they breath in, the head and shoulders are
pushed upwards, and when they breath out, the head and shoulders
fall. Hence there is constant strain on the diaphram muscle
acting sixteen times every minute of the waking day, which is
made worse in the seated position when doing sedentary work, and particularly when the
upward movement of the diaphram is opposed by leaning forward.
Children who develop such posture due to poor nutrition or illness when they were young typically grow up to be sickly and miserable adults because of all of their health problems, which is reflected in the mans face above. M.B. See my report on childfrens posture here. See a description of my theory on how poor posture causes health problems here.
Tight Belts and Tunics
In the nineteenth century it was common practice for
some of the soldiers of most armies to create a broad shouldered
appearance by tightening their belts to narrow their waist, which
would have restricted their capacity for deep breathing, which
is required during exertion, such as marching at double quick
pace with a heavy, fully laden knapsacks held onto their shoulders by chest straps. Many wore tight military tunics, and some even wore tight military corsets which also restrict the expansion and contraction of the chest during exertion. M.B.
See an example of a military tunic here, and an argument about it here.
See also here
A typical Da Costa's patient
past and present physique, health, and personal history
He was generally aged 30, and previously did clerical work
but was currently unemployed, He had a thin build and long chest,
was never robust, got frequent sore throats and colds as a child,
had his tonsils and appendix out, and was "unable to sit
and lie quietly". He also had a weak stomach, and had his kidneys
damaged by Scarlet fever, and there were frequent fluctuations
in the color and volume of his urine. "He has always been
nervous and easily fatigued", and he "was never allowed"
to take part in competitive sports and has felt inferior physically
to others of his own age. He 'never got over' his attack of grippe
three years ago, and since then has had gradually increasing
pain in his heart, shortness of breath, dizziness, faintness
and weakness. All of his symptoms are made worse by exertion
or nervous strain". . .the breathlessness "is not
true air hunger, but literally a 'shortness of breath,' a feeling
that deep breath cannot be achieved. The patient usually localizes
this sensation in the chest wall itself" . . . "which seems unable to expand normally", and this produces frequent sighing, which "is not commonly present in patients with
organic heart disease", and is important in making that
distinction in diagnosis . . . and "many theories" have been
used in the past to explain the cause of the syndrome, and have since been disproven or applied ot "a selected group of cases". There had been widely
varying opinions which may each have a "fragment of truth". The 1939 author mentioned ten which included "Pressure from
Reference: Caugney J.L. Jnr., M.D. (April 1939), Cardiovascular
Neurosis; A review. Psychosomatic Medicine,Vol.1 No.3, April
Another reference which describes the typical physique
The constitutional type occurred in children, youth, and early adult life, and most soldier's who developed
it already has the minor syjmjptoms prior to enlistment . This type
were generally tall and thin, with long narrow chests which are 'rounded in cross-section', and forward
curvature of the lower spine which pushed the abdomen forward into a 'bottle-shaped' appearance,
and included visceroptosis with the heart, stomach, and liver
etc positioned lower in the torso.
"The next commonest type is of course build. The chest is broad but flat."
Symptoms: The pulse rate changes when they move from the upright to the reclining position, or in response to fear or other emotional stimulus,
and they get palpitations with violent effort "such as the usual exercise test of hopping or forward bending" with the pulse rate taking up to several hours to return to normal.
There is soreness in the skin on the left side of the chest in
one quarter of cases, and in others there is general sensitivity
in parts of the chest, but mainly in one rib space. Giddiness occurs mainly when getting out of bed, or with physical or emotional
effort, and tends to become less noticed later in the day. Faintness
or sometimes actual fainting occurs with patients reporting from
1 to 100 times, and is brought on by "the cessation of sudden effort, severe coughing attacks, deep breathing, the effort to stool, the sight of blood, a typhoid inoculation,, or a small
pox vaccination". In most cases the patient feels the faint
coming on and sits down to avoid falling and injuring themselves.
During the faint the pulse may become imperceptible but gradually
return to normal after a few seconds or up to five minutes. Dermatographia is the ability to write on the skin where running a fingernail
lightly down the skin leaves a red or white line, and according
"dermtographia is practically universal".
Medical tests: "Orthodiography, x-ray,
and fluroscopy" have shown "small" hearts which
overact and "swings widely" "like a see-saw".
Blood pressure observations correspond to the extreme lability
of the entire vascular apparatus", but cardiograms are normal
and there was no evidence of disease of the heart, and it is important to interpret those factors properly so that the patient does not develop cardiophobia (fear of heart disease), as that
will not be helpful in treating the problem. The post viral types
generally recover, but the 'constitutional' types involve "periods
of practical recovery and remission".
Reference: Rothschild Marcus A. (April 1930) Neurocirculatory Asthenia, The New York Academy
of Medicine, Vol.VI, No.4, p.223-242.(Annual Graduate Fortnight,
Functional and Nervous Problems in Medicine and Surgery, October
7 to 19, 1929)
Da Costa's Syndrome
and the medical research literature
"Da Costa's Syndrome
. . . common among solders" . . . Bouts of palpitations, dizziness, chest pain, breathlessness
etc . . .
"Hard field service was the chief assignable cause in 34.5%
of cases . . . as in case 110 after a march of 26 miles in one
day . . . "
"Undoubtedly, the waist belt, but particularly the knapsack,
may have had something to do with aggravating the trouble, but
I could find no proof that they had produced it".
. . .. "The pulse is always greatly and rapidly influenced
by position . . . Dizziness was often complained of". It
was increased by stooping (case 44); by exercise (case 57) or
by laying on the left side in some cases or on the right side
or the back in others. For treatment . . . "Their equipments
be such as will not unnecessarily constrict and thus retard or
Case 48 enlisted
aged 17 with a thin chest of 27 inches, and suffered dizziness,
cardiac pain, shortness of breath, and palpitations while on
picket duty, and on one occasion while marching when he dropped
out and discarded his knapsack and extra clothing, yet still
struggled to keep up with the regiment. He was hospitalised and
recovered but recommended for the veteran reserve. When examined
in civilian practice 8 years later he was a tall, broad chested
man who had spent most of the intervening years working in the
open air as a mounted soldier. He only had two bouts of palpitations
associated with bilious spells, and occasional colds, and otherwise
had perfect health with no other symptoms at all, and could run
up and down stairs without getting short of breath.
Reference: Da Costa J.M. (January 1871), On Irritable Heart,
The American Journal of the Medical Sciences p.18-52
Da Costa's Syndrome . . . "It is concluded that
there is some association between left thoracic (chest) pain,
and poor diaphragmatic or lower thoracic movement. (The diaphragm
doesn't rise completely when exhaling and the lower chest has
poor expansion). A more severe left-sided chest pain can be brought
on by "strain of certain muscular attachments involved in
such actions as cranking a lorry or lifting a heavy weight".
Reference: Wood P. (May 24th 1941) Da Costa's Syndrome,
The British Medical Journal, Vol.1, 1941 p.767-772
Da Costa's syndrome . . . "In some the chest is long and narrow, or flattened and associated with a kyphotic
(stooped) curve ... slight build ... chest wall deformities ... (the condition affects) ...sedentary town dwellers ... commoner
in women" . . . "the pulse shows an exaggerated reaction
to posture" . . . "there is "breathlessnes"
and "suspected - alteration in the character of the blood
"acidosis as produced by CO2, or lactic acid) as a causative
factor. Fatigue Fatigue was an almost universal complaint." . .
. "these symptoms and signs are largely, in some cases wholly, the exaggerated physiological response to exercise". . .
prompting the name "effort syndrome".
Reference: Wooley C.F. (May 1976) Where are the Diseases of
Circulation p. 749-751.
See more about Da Costa's syndrome here
See information about the affects of physique and chest shape on the health of animals here
Neutral point of view means presenting "both", or all points of view
While I was trying to improve an article about Da Costa's syndrome for Wikipedia two anonymous editors wanted to impose their own bias on the page. At one stage they tried to merge it into a brand new one called "Somatoform autonomic dysfunction (essentially imaginary symptoms caused by the mind). They also tried to change the emphasis to anxiety disorders by moving the novel Soldier's heart to the top line to leave the impression that the ailment was due to the fear of battle.
In fact some authors regard "Da Costa's syndrome" and "Anxiety state" as alternative labels for the same condition
I therefore suggested that if they were serious about making Wikipedia a neutral point of view they should leave it up to me to write the Da Costa's syndrome page, and set up a brand new one called "Anxiety state" and put all of their ideas in it, and then link the two together, and let the readers decide what to think for themselves.
However, it was obvious that they had absolutely no intention of letting that happen.
I will therefore do it in the chart below
|The main symptoms
The Posture Theory
See the physique of the typical patient here.
|The Anxiety Theories
Poor posture compresses the ribs and causes tenderness and weakness in the flesh between them and occasional chest pains
When people worry their muscles, including their chest muscles become tense, and that causes the soreness and occasional chest pains
Many people with this ailment have small or abnormal chest shapes which means that the heart is closer to the chest wall, and when it beats it is more easily noticed. If the person thinks that it is evidence of heart disease they might start worrying about it.
The idea is that worry increases the speed and strength of the heart beat, and is the reason for the palpitations.
Poor posture compresses the lungs and strains the breathing muscles and eventually causes them to function inefficiently so that occasionally the patient will have to gasp for an extra breath, or sometimes two or three in a row.
It is thought that the person is the type who panics a lot and that when they do they breath fast for a few minutes until they become dizzy and faint and get tingling sensations in their fingers and toes
Poor posture compresses the air in the chest which slows the flow of blood between the feet and the brain.
It is thought that the patients often feel faint and dizzy because they are worried and emotional individuals.
The postural pressure on the air in the chest slows the flow of blood though it, and strains the walls of the blood vessels below until they become weak, and then the weak circulation of blood to the brain disposes to tiredness etc.
It is thought that the patients are emotional individuals who worry about trivial matters all day every day, and that the constant worry wears them out and puts them in a constant state of fatigue.
The two Wikipedia editors were in fact so opposed to any mention of my theory that their response was offensive and hostile in the extreme, which can be seen here.
The Chest pains - physical or psychosomatic
politics in the argument
When I was 25 years old I had many health problems which were getting worse, but my doctor was unable to explain or relieve them so I began to study the problem myself. I started by making detailed observations and notes on my own symptoms and by reading medical dictionaries and books of anatomy to get clues about the possibilities.
The general view in the literature was that the symptoms did not show up on x-rays and were therefore the imaginary symptoms of hypochondria, or were not physically based but were caused by such things as anxiety and fear. Hence they were regarded as the psychosomatic affects of mental factors.
One of the many ideas was that anxiety affects the breathing pattern which strains the chest wall to cause areas of weakness between the ribs and occasional pains, and there were suggestions that the symptoms often occurred during exercise for similar reasons related to the fear of exercise.
However I had been involved in gymnastics for about 10 years and had absolutely no fear of exercise whatsoever, and knew that sometimes the chest pains would occur for no obvious reason when I was sitting in a chair doing nothing, and that sometimes when I was jogging along the beach I would get pain in the left side of my chest each time my left foot hit the sand.
I therefore ultimately came to the conclusion that the pain was occurring because I had a slightly stooped spine and that when I leaned forward to read the weight of my head and shoulders was pressing down on my chest to compress my ribs together and caused tenderness and weakness between them which occasionally resulted in sudden sharp pains. I later noticed that I also had sideways curvature of the spine which would cause the abnormal compression of one side of my chest, and abnormal stretching of the other side which would explain why the pains would mainly occur on one side.
In the meantime, when I was studying the range of health problems I found that the same problems were seen in the common symptoms of pregnancy, and hence drew the conclusion that they occurred because the womb was becoming larger and pressing upwards against the stomach liver and chest during the pregnancy period;
Many years went by when I saw the picture of the internal anatomy of a nineteenth century woman who wore a tight corset, and immediately concluded that they would all be likely to have the same type and range of symptoms that I had explained in poor posture. I subsequently read, and then purchased a copy of that book to confirm that was true.
Consequently I wrote essays and a book and a website which I called The Posture Theory in which I described how poor posture, the enlarging womb of pregnancy, and tight waisted corsets could cause the range of symptoms, including the chest pains, because of
mechanical pressure on the ribs.
I was also aware that the range of symptoms had been given many labels including Da Costa's syndrome, so I was writing about that ailment and drew the following conclusions . . .
The Posture Theory
Da Costa's syndrome involves a set of symptoms which include palpitations, chest pains, breathlessness, faintness and fatigue which can occur at any time but mainly during exertion. The cause is related to the long term effects of compression of the chest and abdomen which is caused by poor posture, the enlarging womb of pregnancy, and tight waisted clothing such as belts, girdles, and nineteenth century corsets. The chest pain is due to inflammation and tenderness between the ribs which can be relieved by injecting a pain killing drug into the site of the pain, the breathlessness is related to the compression of the lungs and breathing muscles, and the faintness and fatigue is related to poor blood flow between the feet and brain. Anyone can be affected by the syndrome, but the typical patient has a thin and stooped physique, and a long, narrow, or flat chest.
However, when I joined Wikipedia in 2007 I saw the following article about that topic which described it as an anxiety disorder, and did not mention any of the other evidence or possibilities. The complete text which I saw in December 2007 is copied below for you to see.
"Da Costa's syndrome is a type of anxiety disorder first
observed in soldiers in the American Civil War. It causes symptoms
similar to heart disease but, upon examination, nothing is found
to be physically wrong with the patient. The symptoms usually
consist of fatigue upon exertion, combined with shortness of breath, palpitations, sweating, chest pain, shaking, and, less
commonly, fainting. The symptoms may increase whilst exercising,
and it is thought to be caused partly by hyperventilation.
Related: Neurasthenia, Orthostatic intolerance,
Hyperventilation syndrome, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Soldier's
This disease article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it."
I began adding to it on 8-12-2007 here.
I therefore started adding information to that page, and included a brief summary of my own theory.
Almost immediately two editors started criticising me and calling me a worthless, non notable, fringy kook, and deleted everything about my theory within a month. They also put me on a watchlist and spent the next twelve months nitpicking and deleting almost every word I added, even if it was from the most reliable top quality independent research journals. For example, they would argue that most of my references were old, and that Sir James MacKenzie was an ordinary man, and that a review in the Journal of the American Medical Association was just an op-ed written by a non-expert.
They managed to give other editors the impression that was a disruptive troll and get me banned in January 2009.
If you read Wikipedia now you will see that Da Costa's syndrome is still described as an anxiety disorder and their comments that there is no evidence of physiological abnormality. They also present it as a psychosomatic disorder with the additional comment that anxiety is the cause of the physical symptoms, and they refer to it as a mental illness involving somatoform (imaginary) symptoms.
Nevertheless they have contradicted themselves by keeping my recommendations about improving posture and physique in the treatment section, as well as the relevance of wearing loose clothing etc, but have not acknowledged the fact that they got that information from my research into the topic. See the article dated 10th January 2010. here, ∂ßalmost a year after I was banned
Since I have been banned I have been providing evidence that my two critics are liars but nothing has been done about it. I can only assume that they have managed to round up sufficient support form other editors who favor the anxiety theories, and that nothing will change because they don't want the public to know about the other possibilities. i.e. the information in Wikipedia will be determined by vote, rather than merit, in much the same ways as people will vote for their favoured political party in the elections, and not another, who they regard as their "opposition". While I was in Wikipedia the two editors were acting like trumped up dictators, and now they have support. Their article is obviously a violation of the rules which require them to present a neutral and unbiased point of view by giving the readers "alll" verifiable information, not just the prejudiced view which they prefer.
The differences and improvements in consideration
One of the reasons for the difficulty and disputes in understanding the important effect of posture on health is because, in the past it has been considered in relation to two dimensional, black and white, x-ray images taken in the stationary position at any single point in time.
My theory takes into account 1. The effect in three dimensions, and 2. the effect on internal anatomy, and 3. the effect on the human body while it static, and how the effect is different when it is in motion, and 4. the difference in the effect of occasional movements, repetitive movements, and over short and long period of time, months or years, and 5. the information that has been accumulating throughout history.
I have studied literature from the past, and have translated 17th century concepts into modern language, and am familiar with medical language, but have written my ideas in plain English to make it easier for as many people as possible to understand. M.B.
The seventeenth century intellectual elite referred to the plagues of influenza being spread by the sprinkling of star dust, to the mind being influenced by the moon, and the symptoms being due to the imbalances of the liquids of melancholy and the effect of evil spirits which were the finer fluids formed by the bodies boiling of others. It impressed the world in general and their were grains of truth in it all, as there is in the modern concepts, but my critics don't seem to see any faults in their own ideas and lack the practical merit of my ideas. They can impress other people with their jargon, but they can't solve problems, unless, like me, they look at practical outcomes.
The basic problem in the study of posture and health
I became interested in the medical literature the cause of the
slouched or hunchback posture was unknown in more than 80% of
For example . . . "Approximately 85% of cases of kyphoscoliosis
are of unknown cause" Reference Wintrobe M.M.et.al (editors)
(1970) Harrison's Principle's of Internal
Medicine 6th edition p.817. McGraw Hill Book Co., New York. (kypho means hunchback, and scoliosis
means sideways curvature of the spine, and kyphoscoliosis is
the combined feature. see also here
Since then I have written a theory and published a 1000
page book on the subject.
The problem of acquiring
the knowledge that is needed to understand the relationship between
posture and health is the limitation of the scientific method
which would require a person to walk around with a two ton X-ray
machine strapped to their back, together with probes and leads
from the body to a computer, to monitor the changes that occurred
for 24 hours a day, every day for fifty years. Until that happens
the subject has to be considered with careful study, experience,
and the power of logic and reason. People who do not accept that
self-evident fact are worse than useless. It leaves a climate
of doubt about whether pain is real or imagined, and all of the
consequences that are avoidable by science and imposed on the
Poor posture can't be the only cause of chronic fatigue
Many years ago I walked into a building
full of people with chronic fatigue, and noticed that they
did not all have the typical stooped physique that I expected, so I gave the matter some thought
and came to the conclusion that there must be different causes. In fact there are many diseases which have multiple causes, such
as heart disease which can be caused by drinking excess alcohol,
smoking too much tobacco, eating too much fatty food, or stress,
and the condition is more likely to occur in individuals who
combine those factors.
I have also met individuals who complained
of chronic fatigue, but they also played vigorous sport or climbed
mountains, whereas individuals with Da Costa's syndrome find it impossible to do strenuous exercise. I therefore thought about that and eventually
came to the conclusion that there must be at least two types
of chronic fatigue syndrome. The first major group is Sleep disorders where the main symptom is tiredness
but the individuals have the normal capacity for exercise, and the second is Conditions that
are primarily exercise disorders which also include problems
I am sure that many people who have read about
the Posture Theory, would be skeptical about it, because they didn't read enough to understand the
reason for the "apparent" discrepancies.
A humorous posture education video on YouTube
Avis Films Inc. (2008) Posture Pals, YouTube video, with assistance from The Burbank
Unified School District and The Los Angeles City School Districts
Health Services Branch, Corrective Physical Education Section
This humorous video provides a useful account of the teaching
of posture in schools of the past. The recognition
of the importance of posture education has varied from insignificant
to crucial from teacher to teacher, school to school, country
to country, and decade to decade for the past 100 years, reflecting
the differences of opinion relating to the lack of absolute proof
about the relationship between cause and effect.
This relates to the fact that human anatomy is covered by a layer
of skin, so children and adults cannot see the internal function
of the body. It would therefore be useful if someone could produce
an animated 3D YouTube video of the changing shape of internal
organs when the person has different postures - kyphosis, scoliosis,
or lordosis, and long, narrow, flat, or receding chests, and
what happens when the sternum has a forward or reverse angle
when the person leans forward at the waist or hips, and what
happens when the person slouches and the spine and sternum twists
as the hand moves from left to right, and down as they write,
and what happens when they wear high heel shoes. and compress
their waist with tight waisted belts or corsets. The Posture Theory Challenge: To produce such a vide
(When you are watching the You Tube video called Posture Pals, you will be able to see that the teacher was
wearing high heel shoes, and a tight waisted dress which would
have adversely affected her own posture and health).
Aspects of The Posture Theory which distinguish it from other theories
Poor posture is primarily caused by poor nutrition, and infectious illnesses involving weight loss during childhood here
The other main factors which contribute in combination with those two are the mechanical forces on the spine and the duration of those force - such as carrying heavy kit bags too and from school for half a mile or more, each morning and afternoon during the period of school life - up to 7 years at primary school, and 5 years at high school, or up to a total of 12 years. Described in the YouTube video here
Poor posture combined with chest shape influences the number and severity of symptoms here
Compression of the chest damages peripheral vessels, which is the cause of chronic fatigue here
Chronic faigue is due to reduced physical capacity for exercise here
Mechanical factors such as tight belts, corsets, chest straps, and shoulder binders can alter the shape of the skeleton and cause poor posture here
Bending at the waist with a flat chest pushes the lower tip of the sternum into the esphageal and stomach junction to cause esophageal achalasia here
The severity of fatigue can be determined by tilt table tests and aerobic exercise tests here
Exercise within limits may reduce, but not always cure chronic fatigue here
Poor posture strains the spinal muscles and compresses the chest and abdomen to cause multiple symptoms (not just back pain) here
About The Author
This item was probably started in 2008, with some minor changes since then. e.g. the addition of the photo in March 2012.
following information was added to this website after several
Wikipedia editors asked me to provide details about my own research and publications, and to make it available online so that it would be easy for them to check. My eBook called The Posture Theory is available through Amazon.com here, and a YouTube video of that theory is here.
Before and after my research project (1982-84)
Before I did my research the general attitude was that chronic fatigue was not a physical problem, but was all in the patients mind, or was due to laziness, the lack of exercise, or the fear of exercise, and they were being encouraged to run faster and faster each week with the idea that they would regain normal energy levels and normal health, and hence a cure. However all of the patients dropped our of the courses.
I presented very detailed descriptions of the fatigue and the response to exertion to show that it was different to normal, and that the problem was physical. I then said that each person had their limits which were below normal, and that if they trained within their limits they would be able to improve, and continue until whatever their upper limit was. Some of the patients trained for more than six months.
In 1982 the head of the South Australian Institute for Fitness Research and Training invited me to design a program which would solve an international research problem - How do you get scientific data on patients with chronic fatigue, when they all cannot, or will not train.
The principle was to have them exercise within their own limits, and it was successful.
That principles has since been duplicated many times all around the world.
In 1969 I was a gymnastics instructor and
was offered three scholarships to do youth leadership training in
the Group Work course at the South Australian Institute of Technology.
The first was from the National
Fitness Council of Australia, N.S.W. HQ. ("responsible
for . . . the organisation of training courses in physical education"),
which was followed by a South Australian State Government Department
of Community Welfare offer of full time study on full salary,
and then a Commonwealth Government offer for part time study over four years, which I accepted, and completed.
In 1975 I became interested
in fitness and fatigue research, and in 1981 I approached Tony
Sedgewick, Head of the S.A. Institute for Fitness Research and
Training, which was associated with the University of Adelaide, I discussed the international research problem of not
being able to get useful data on fatigue patients, because they
either refused to train, or dropped out of the programs too
soon to get meaningful results. He asked me to develop a methodology
for solving the problem, and a few months later I provided him
with a programme design to consider, and the principles were
(1) The condition involved different degrees of severity, (2)
the patients should train within their own limits, and (3) they
should improve at their own rate.
I was then invited to co-ordinate
a research study on the subject, which initially involved obtaining
a small research grant from the South Australian State Government
Department of Recreation of Sport, and establishing a programme committee, I also obtained the co-operation of a medical journalist for the states afternoon newspaper who wrote articles for the purpose of recruiting trainees who had persistent or recurring problems with fatigue.
The medical examinations were conducted by two of the institutes research cardiologists.
Over the next two years the IFRT received more than 200 enquiries,
and 80 patients were medically assessed, and their exertional
capacity was measured using standard scientifically reliable
graphs of pulse over load on an ergometric cycle. 9 participants
completed training which consisted of light exercise, and walking,
or jogging. They were two hourly sessions for two nights per week, for three
months or more, and 5 completed 6 months or more.
showed (1) those who didn't train stayed at the same ergometric
capacity (2) three improved for 3 months and then leveled out
below standard levels, and (3) one improved slowly for the first
3 months, and then significantly improved in the second term.
In one group six individuals trained in the same class for three
months and their position from first to sixth while walking or
jogging around the oval corresponded to their scientifically measured aerobic
capacity. A lifestyle questionnaire was also included at the outset,
and those who had previously changed and restricted their lifestyle
because of their fatigue were found to have low to very low aerobic
measurements, and those who did not need to change lifestyle
had average to above ergometric results. A general account of
the results were reported in the major newspapers in 4 of the
6 Australian states between 1982 and 1983. e.g. See a copy of one of those newspaper reports here. Some years later,
when reviewing the results I came to the conclusion that the
mixed data was the result of recruiting patients with fatigue,
which, in relation to the dual meaning of the word, would bring
3 different groups to the programme (1) those with sleep disorders
who were abnormally tired (2) those who had a physical disorder
which affected their capacity for exertion, and (3) those who
had a mixture of both.
(The research design principles, results, references, charts,
and 48 interviews on cause and symptoms can be seen here)
Nowadays (2008) similar programs have
been implemented and assessed with several studies showing variable
results, where some patients benefit from the programme and others
have problems. In the latter case it is probably because they increase
their exercise levels at too fast a rate, or exceed their limits
and experience the type of symptoms that deter them from continuing.
That could be prevented by voluntary participation, with the individual initially walking at a casual pace of their choice, and progressing at their own rate, if and when possible. The condition involves varying degrees
of severity from person to person and day to day which requires
progress, if any, to be flexible, rather than regulated or expected
according to an orderly gradient of improvement, with the person
free to choose to stop training, if and when they reach a level
of improvement that ceases to benefit from additional training,
or to remain at that level as part of a maintenance programme.
Other groups of patients, such as those with asthma, arthritis,
obesity, or heart disease, may also be limited in their capacity
for exertion, but to a different degree, and for different reasons.
Graded Exercise Therapy, or "GET is
one of the most common treatments for CFS" (chronic fatigue
syndrome) Another similar method of treatment which relates to
keeping within exercise and lifestyle limits is called "pacing"
and there are several versions of it based on the general principle
of "Self-controlled rest and exercise".
"Self-controlled rest and exercise,
is being advocated by many patients as one of the few really
effective means of minimising homeostatic disequilibrium. The
principles involve acceptance of the patient's limitations (by
both the patient and any coaches), awareness of the early signals
of deterioration e.g. increased cognitive difficulties, pain,
clumsiness, muscle weakness, respiratory problems; and stopping
exercise/activity before exceeding limitation or "crashing."
A good rule of thumb is to never exert more than 70% of capacity.
An understanding nurse, doctor or physical therapist may be of
Reference 1 : Hurst, J.W.; R.B.Logue,
R.C.Schlant, N.K.Wenber (1974). The Heart 3rd. edition.
New York: McGraw Hill Book Co.,, 1552-1555 - The authors of this
paper stated "attempts by Cohen and his associates to alter these abnormalities by physical training were unsuccessful since the patients could not or would not follow the prescribed training programme." and commented that previous studies
of a small number of patients by Holmgren in 1959 and Levander-Lindgren
in 1964 has shown that training programs had shown some benefits.
It was the comment that these patients "would not or could
not train" that prompted me to design a programme that patients
"could and would train" if they were instructed to
train within their own limits.
Reference 2: Wikipedia, Chronic
fatigue syndrome, history of edits, 18:38, 27-9-07, 5.1.2.
Reference 3. E.M. Goudsmit, Howes S.
(2008), Pacing: A strategy to improve energy management in
chronic fatigue syndrome, Health Psychology Update (BPS), 2008,
17, 1, 46-52.
>See also Wikipedia "Chronic
Fatigue Syndrome 2.3, & 2,4, & 5.1.2" (30-12-07),
and click on the history tab and scroll down to the date 30-12-07,
and the end of 5.1.2 to see the "pacing" paragraph,
which was deleted from the wikipedia CFS page at 11:22 on 5-1-08.
Note that the links will now only lead to the current page on
CFS where the pacing details have been removed.
- CFS ref.. 178. The "Gibson Report" Report of the
Group on Scientific Research into Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (2006)
Wikipedia (1-1-08) - CFS ref. 188. Peter D White, Michael
C Sharpe, Trudie Chalder, Julia C DeCesare, Rebecca Walwyn for
the PACE trial group (2007). "Protocol for the PACE trial:
A randomised controlled trial of adaptive pacing, cognitive behaviour
therapy, and graded exercise as supplements to standardised specialist
medical care versus standardised specialist medical care alone
for patients with the chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis
or encephalopathy.". BMC Neurology 7:6. DOI 10.1186/1471-2377-7-6.
See also: Better Connect Channel (20-1-08) - Chronic
fatigue syndrome and Exercise:: Health and medical information
for consumers, quality assured by the Victorian government (Australia).
see also: Harrison's Principles of Internal
Medicine 17th edition. New York U.S.A.: McGraw-Hill Companies
Inc., 2703=2704. The text of this summary links the former
term "effort syndrome" to the modern condition of "chronic
fatigue syndrome" and refers to graded exercise regimes
which have "proven" effective in relieving symptoms
and improving exercise tolerance.
See also; The
Disease of a Thousand Names Compiled on-line by medical
consumer Melissa Kaplan, last updated April 19, 2007.
"The cause of CFS is unknown, although
a large number of causes have been proposed, and several proposed
causes have very vocal and partisan advocates. In a basic overview
of CFS for health professionals, the CDC states that "After
more than 3,000 research studies, there is now abundant scientific
evidence that CFS is a real physiological illness."
The cause of CFS may be different for different patients, but
if so, the various causes may result in a common clinical outcome."
Reference: Wikipedia, Chronic fatigue
syndrome, 10:21, 8-1-07, 3. and, ref: (50) CDC - CFS Basic
Overview (PDF file, 31 KB), U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. See here and here.
Chronic fatigue syndrome includes a large
range of ailments which involve the symptom of fatigue as one
of the main features. Throughout the history of these conditions
there have been differences of opinions and controversies about
cause and nature, between doctors from one specialty to another,
and from those who believe it is "all in the mind"
to those who think it is physical, and from doctor to patient,
and from one individual or group of patients to another. It appears
as if different causes are being argued about as if they relate
to the same condition, so in order to clarify the difference
between anxiety, sleep, or exertional disorders, for example,
it is necessary to clearly, accurately, and precisely identify
each of the many sub-types of which Da Costa's syndrome is one
of the exertional disorders, where the patients do not necessarily
have a fear of exertion or heart disease, and they don't necessarily
have agoraphobia or panic attacks, and are not necessarily depressed
or having nightmares, and may or may not have recollection of
previous exposure to viral infections or toxic chemicals, etc.
Leadership by example
When I studied leadership I came to the conclusion that I had one natural aptitude to "lead by example". I am not a dictator.
In relation to chronic fatigue I have studied the problem and know how to manage the symptoms, but I don't expect anyone to believe me if they don't want to. It is up to each person to decide if my methods help them or not.
The History of theories about the supposed fear of exercise, and how I changed the course of medical research.
1919 Sir Thomas Lewis was studying fatigue in soldiers which had been called Da Costa's syndrome, and Soldier's Heart, and he renamed it the "Effort Syndrome" because of the relationship of the symptoms to physical exertion.
1939 J.L. Caughey reviewed the relevant medical literature of that time and gives a typical example of the patient where "He 'was never allowed' to take part in competitive sports and has felt inferior physically to others of his own age".
1956 Paul Wood O.B.E. Britain's top authority on that topic attributed the symptoms to anxiety, and concluded that the abnormal response to exercise was due to the fear of the normal symptoms.
He described it as a psychiatric condition which usually involved an anxiety state where, in many cases, the adult had been a timid child "far too dependent of maternal protection. At school, kindly doctors and soft mothers protected them from the hazards of football, swimming, and the gymnasium". See my report here.
1974 J.W. Hurst wrote a reference book for cardiologists which included this topic and these words . . . "the patients could not or would not follow the prescribed training programme.
1975 I began treating my own ailment with rest and mild exercise at the S.A.Institute for Fitness Research and Training, and later, when I read research papers and books which attributed the symptoms to the fear of exercise I knew they were wrong, and began explaining the physical nature of the problems and how they differed from the normal response to exertion.
1919 I explained my ideas to Tony Sedgewick who was the head of that organisation and he immediately recognised their importance, and when his own professional research cardiologists were too busy on other studies he asked me to design and co-ordinate it. The project was successful through three consecutive training periods of 12 weeks each, and proved that the problem was physical, and was not due to the fear of exercise. The principles included training within limits, and stopping if there were any problems before resuming again.
1987 Simon Wessely began studying chronic fatigue and using the same principles which he called Graded Exercise Therapy.
2012 Simon Wessely was given the John Maddox Prize for courage in science in relation to his study of Graded Exercise Therapy for the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
December 2012 Simon Wessely was knighted for his contributions to medicine in relation to chronic fatigue treatment for civilians and Soldier's.
The Graded exercise program of Sir Thomas Lewis in 1919
As you can appreciate, in 1975 I was experiencing problems with exertion which was not responding to any form of medication or treatment, so I had to determine how to treat the problems for myself. I did so by trial and error, and 7 years later was asked to design a research project where I established that other patients with fatigue could also benefit.
However many more years went by when I became interested in the history of the subject, and I found a book by Sir Thomas Lewis which had been published in 1919. At that time the condition had many labels such as Da Costa's syndrome and he renamed it the "Effort Syndrome".
Given that nobody had ever told me about such things I was surprised to find that he had used Graded exercises in his research.
His main objective was to determine the fatigued soldier's capacity for duty, and to try and return them to full service.
The instructors were chosen from those who were experienced in normal army drill, and applied exactly the same exercises.
They were told to start with light exercise for 15 minutes, and in due course to increase the number and strenuousness of the exercises, and to increase the time to 30 minutes. In the next levels they included slow marches for 1-2 miles in the afternoon, and eventually longer marches of 4-5 miles at ordinary pace.
The instructors were required to report instances where the soldier's had difficulty with the exercises and they were then sent for medical assessment. Otherwise the program would continue to the next level. Nevertheless, some officers decided to increase the levels automatically, and assess the complaints as they occurred.
Some of the soldiers' were unable to exercise, or had problems with light exercise and were discharged from duty. Others who had a higher capacity were recommended for light duties, and others with full capacity returned to full military duties.
In his concluding comments he wrote these words . . . "In the majority of the patients progress occurs to a point and there is no further improvement, health remaining impaired or imperfectly restored".
My method of exercise which I developed independently in 1975 has some similarities
I began with light exercises which meant no push ups or heavy lifting. I started with slow walking for short distances and very gradually increased the pace and distance, as it became possible to do so. If I had any problems I slowed down or stopped and started again, and kept training for the same period of time as others in the exercise program. For example, if everyone else was jogging or running for 30 minutes, then I would be walking or slowly jogging intermittently for 30 minutes. If they walked a mile in 8 minutes, then I would walk and intermittently jog slowly until I covered the same distance. I kept doing that for almost a year, up to six times a week, before I injured my knee and stopped.
My aerobic capacity was scientifically measured at the start and after the first 12 weeks, and again some time later. It increased significantly in the first period, but then, despite training at improved levels, for longer distances, more often per week, my aerobic capacity remained the same.
When I designed the research project 7 years later I advised the instructor to put people with fatigue in their own group where each individual was required to exercise at their own level regardless of what others were doing.
Since then it has been possible to train some patients with chronic fatigue syndrome in a reliable and consistent way by using those principles, and they can be seen in programs called PACING and Graded Exercise Therapy.
There are a number of other differences which I may discuss later.
My interest in sport many years before developing Da Costa's syndrome
This item was added in April 2012. See an earlier item here
I did this summersault when I was about 17 years old at an annual demonstration of the gymnastics club in front of an audience of over 100 people.
The unicycle was about 9 foot six high, and my feet were about two feet higher when I rotated through the summersault.The ceiling of a 2 story building is visible.
My main interest as a teenager was gymnastics, in which I would attend the gym up to three or more times a week, often for up to five hours at a time. On other days, and on weekends, my other interests included athletics, sport and swimming. I participated in one mile, and cross country races, and could easily swim from jetty to shore, or across rivers.
However, one of the most popular ideas about the cause of Da Costa's syndrome is that such individuals did not play sport when they were young because the didn't want to, or their parents wouldn't let them do anything where they might get hurt. Consequently, it was argued that the person never learnt the difference between the normal symptoms of exercise, and the symptoms of lung or heart disease.
It was suggested that when they exercised, and the normal symptoms occurred, they thought it was due to disease, and the anxiety made the symptoms worse so they avoided exercise.
It was then thought that they became unfit because of the lack of exercise, and hence 'exercise intolerant', and therefore experienced more severe symptoms in relation to exertion than a 'fit' person, so they continued to avoid exercise.
Therefore it was said, that all you have to do is convince them that their symptoms are normal, and to get them to exercise at gradually increasing stages to overcome their fear, and return to normal levels of activity.
One of the exponents of such ideas was Paul Wood O.B.E., who was very influential, and changed the general attitude towards anxiety theories after the 1950's, and those ideas are still very popular among many researchers today.
However, while such ideas sound 'plausible' and may have a grain of truth in some cases, and while it is sensible not to mention anything which would make such individuals worry, it nevertheless, has to be said that such problems are "exercise phobias", or "cardiophobias", and not Da Costa's syndrome.
In fact, many people who played sport when they were young, including myself, had to give it up because of the abnormal response to exertion which occurs in Da Costa's syndrome.
I had often ran myself to exhaustion from one end of a sports field to another, being pursued by other players, or when overtaking dozens of other runners to beat them at the closing stages of a cross country race, but the ordinary symptoms of such normal exercise are not even remotely the same as those of Da Costa's syndrome.
In fact the symptoms of Da Costa's syndrome are physically based, and consistent in their nature, and are different from the symptoms of normal or vigorous exertion, and are are also different from the symptoms of fear, anxiety, or any other emotion. The confusion relates to the fact that they all involve factors which influence heart rate, blood pressure, breathing pattern, chest pains, faintness, and fatigue. See my reports here and here.
Notes of the picture above
One of the women in the back row looks worried about the possibility that I might fall in her direction.
The man standing at the back on the left was my father. He was a keen sportsman himself and played table tennis, snooker, darts, and night cricket at the local branch of the Returned Servicemens League, and later became it's president.
He was treasurer of the gym club.
The certificates and trophies were presented to the students by the local member of Parliament.
One of the references which is very typical the ideas about psychological cause, and psychological "conditioning" is T. Troosters et. al. (1999) Physical performance of patients with numerous psychosomatic complaints suggestive of hyperventilation. European Respiratory Journal, 14, p.1314-1319. (The author traces this problem back to Da Costa of 1871, and Lewis 1918, whose research papers he used in his reference list as number 1, and 2).
This is a quote from his conclusion . . .
"It seems therefore, that the sequence of events responsible
for symptoms and breathing abnormalities during
exercise in this group of patients is as follows. Firstly, a
psychological conditioning process generated by, or linked
to exercise, might be the origin of the many symptoms, i.e.
the high anxiety level and a peculiar breathing pattern. The
symptoms, when marked, result in a tendency to hyperventilate
during and following exercise, with production of
new symptoms (paresthesias, dizziness). The learned response
is then reinforced by every new trial to exercise.
Finally, the occurrence of symptoms with the slightest
exertion leads to a reduction of physical activity and an
ensuing deterioration of exercise tolerance." See here
A second reference to such ideas can be seen in Paul Wood's book of 1956, Diseases of the Heart and Circulation. 2nd. edition, Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, p.937, and 947. He convinced the majority of researchers that it was an anxiety disorder, and that is still the prevailing opinion today. See also the opinion of a Wikipedia editor praising his credibility here.
He attributes the symptoms to a variety of "fears". This is a quote from his book where he discusses the type of adult who develops the ailment . . .
"They are timid children, far too dependent upon maternal protection. At school kindly doctors and soft mothers protected them from the hazards of football, swimming, and the gymnasium. . . . Fear of football, and fear of swimming are common in childhood".
See another website which reports on an individual with chronic fatigue who had previously led a very active life here.
From Anxiety State and Psychotherapy
to the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Graded Exercise Therapy 1975-2013
Paul Wood wrote a book called "Diseases of the heart and circulation" 2nd edition, which was published in 1956.
It contains a chapter on this topic, and on page 937 he states "one may speak of Da Costa's syndrome to cover all previous nomenclature".
In other words it is the name covering this topic which has symptoms of chest pain, breathlessness and fatigue where there is no evidence of heart disease.
I have scanned two paragraphs from his comments of page 943, and posted them on the left.
He was a top authority on the subject and his opinion was the most widely accepted up until 1975 when I started studying and writing about it, but I didn't find his book until much later.
He believed that the symptoms of Da Costa's syndrome were the same as those of exercise phobia, and cardio phobia etc. but I have proof that they are different.
Nobody told me that I was supposed to be afraid of exercise???
Nobody told me that I was supposed to be afraid of exercise when I was young?
My skin/fat ratio was later measured at the fitness research institute, and found to be the same as that of an Olympic athlete.
Notes for the picture on the right
Nobody, not even my doctors, noticed something which is evident in the photo on the right, and would not notice now, unless I mention it.
Many years after developing The Posture Theory I looked back on some old photos, and in this one my right shoulder is much lower, and more rounded than the left.
It is an indication of scoliosis(sideways curvature of the spine), and according to my theory it was the cause of occasional sharp stabbing pains in the lower left side of my chest.
I can also recall that my tailor put padding in the right shoulder of my coats to make the shoulders look even.
That symptom was evident long before I developed the fatigue due to forward curvature of my upper spine, called kyphosis.
Because of my experience with sport, I was aware that exercise was excellent for health, but because of Da Costa's syndrome I had to give it all up. However, I spent the next five years trying to determine the cause of that ailment, and was eventually able to identify a subtle, but definite relationship between the various symptoms and poor posture, and develop methods of relieving them, and ultimately wrote The Posture Theory. In the meantime I wanted to return to my former activities, and I thought that I might be able to do that if I did very mild exercise, and gradually regained my former fitness levels.
I saw an article in a newspaper about an organisation which was conducting medical research into the relationship between illnesses and fitness, so I made some enquiries, and enrolled. After undergoing some medical and fitness tests I began a three month course of training.
There weren't any courses for people with chronic fatigue, so I joined a general class which included healthy people, and those with lung diseases, asthma, and arthritis etc.
I was walking and slowly jogging, and coming last in the exercise sessions, but managed to complete the course and have my fitness level retested. I then continued for another 3 months, and then a third, but after a couple of months passed I injured my knee cartilage and had to stop. Nevertheless I had established that I had abnormally low fitness, and that it improved with training, but then plateaud and did not return to normal regardless of how many hours, or how many times per week I trained.
I continued to read medical books and research papers to find or develop some methods of improving my health when I found a statement which said it was not possible to get research data about this type of ailment because "these patients could not or would not train." Other article referred to the patients being too lazy to train, or afraid of exercise, or didn't want to get better. etc.
I later met a friend of mine who knew the head of the fitness research institute, and recommended that I discuss my ideas with him, so I did, and, during that discussion I told him about the problem that overseas researchers were having with getting scientific data, and explained to him that if I could train, then so could other people with the same ailment, if they did it my way.
He agreed, and then he asked me to design a research programme. The medical staff were too busy on other studies, so he eventually asked me to organise and co-ordinate the programme myself.
It consisted of twice weekly classes of mild aerobic exercise, and walking or jogging within their own limits, and improving at their own rate, and medical and fitness tests at three monthly intervals. It continued successfully for about a year, while I was there, and for some time after.
During that time I was able to establish that it was possible to get some of those patients to exercise, and that they did have abnormally low fitness levels, and that some improved, and some didn't, and it was due to physical, rather than mental factors. In particular that the poor level of fitness was not due to the fear of exercise, or the lack of exercise, and the tiredness and fatigue was not imaginary, and not just normal tiredness.
Most notably the fitness levels of some of those patients was below the level that is seen in people who do sedentary work, and don't play sport, and who don't do any exercise at all. In other words it is not possible to simply attribute the ailment to a lack of exercise. See more details about that research program here.
See more details about my response to exercise before and after developing CFS here.
See more information about my experience surviving many other illnesses here.
Attempts I have made to earn a living
In 1975 I was experiencing severe health problems which had been getting progressively worse for several years, and none of the treatment methods were helping, so I decided to take long term sick leave without pay to recover. After a year I was still having many health problems but was required to give an explanation about why I wasn't attending work. I didn't know what to do so I consulted a union official. He said that he had seen many men just like me who never recovered, so he advised me to apply for my superannuation benefits which was 40% of my annual salary, and would be a lot better than trying to survive on a poverty line pension. I told him that I didn't have any medical evidence of illness, and that I didn't want to attend a tribunal of men in suits who were twice my age, and be cross-examined while in such a poor state of health. I was later told to go back to work and work hard or be sacked. My basic reply was that they couldn't sack me because I would resign , and sent them a letter of resignation the next week. It meant that I didn't get my long term leave entitlements or my superannuation benefits.
I wanted to recover and get a job in the private sector so I thought that it would be better to report that I was a resigned public servant that a sacked mental case.
When my doctor decided to increase the dose of sodium amytal to 750mg per night, I knew that I was already addicted to it, and didn't want to get any worse so I asked him to prescribe a less addictive drug. He prescribed mogadon, and I went through three months of horrendous withdrawal symptoms.
Some time later I joined an exercise program at the SA Institute of Fitness Research and Training, starting once per week, and later up to 3 times per week at their venues and 3 times at local ovals. After about 10 months i damaged my knee cartilage and had to stop. In the meantime I had learnt that I had physical limitations, and that I could prevent problems if I confined my activities to walking, sometimes fast, but avoiding running or rapid sprinting.
I tried to earn a living as a commission salesman by working a few hours a day twice per week and built it up to four part days per week and became exhausted and had to stop. It took me 3 months to recover and then I began window cleaning for about a year and had to stop for similar reasons. I recovered again and took notes during my next work selling fire fighting equipment to business on a commission basis part time. I became exhausted again and when I recovered I read my notes and wrote a theory on the abnormal and gradual build up of fatigue, and how to prevent it by limiting lifestyle.
I also wrote a theory on the cause of the fatigue. I then wrote a theory on posture and health, and later got a part time job selling miscellaneous items to newsagents.
I was then invited to design a research project at the SA Institute for Fitness Research and Training to study exercise and chronic fatigue. I continued successfully for more than a year from the time I started designing the program to the time I finished writing the final research paper. By then there were more than sixty files which had been assessed and the workload was more than I could manage, so when i was asked to do a study of 200 people, I left, and started looking for a job where i could earn some money.
I tried to get work for short periods of time such as a stand up comedian and an entertainer, and was part of an amateur entertainment troupe for a few years. I also got some casual work as an extra on some TV movies such as Sara Dane.
I suppose about 10 years went by before I was feeling almost healthy for some days of the week, but always had to stay within my limitations. I gave up ever doing a full time job and went on a pension, but continued my attempts to earn money in other ways. I tried to invent a better tap, and a better power outlet for walls, but couldn't, and then I invented a one word a day calendar and published it for 2 years, and then gained a contract to publish it for a public speakers organisation called Rostrum as their Australian Bicentennial product. I was hoping to do it each year to get a regular income, but the contract wasn't renewed. I then invented a board game and sold it for about a year, and then a New Zealand board game company decided to manufacture and sell it on a copyright basis for 3 years, but I didn't make a profit. During that time I was diagnosed with cancer, and told that my body was riddled with it and that I had a life expectancy of 2 months with no hope of a cure and that I should rewrite my will.
I didn't think I could invent a cure for cancer in that short time so I didn't even try, and left the treatment up to my doctors.
However, I had just started a small booklet of about 20 pages on posture and health, and decided to keep writing it until I died, and sell it to school and public libraries to help them prevent health problems in future generations of children.
I wrote a sentence, or a paragraph, or drew a diagram each day, and an occasional essay for six years until it was 1000 pages and stopped. During that time I also developed angina heart disease and was advised to have bypass surgery, but I read a book about the Pritikin diet and decided to try it. I took medication for six months and then stopped and the problem was cured.
I learnt to type and brought a typewriter from an auction for $5, and later a computer for $100, and then did some courses in Pagemaker which I used to publish my own books instead of paying typists and computer operators. I then did a course in Dream Weaver website design but became confused and didn't learn how to use it, but kept with a simpler program called Pagemill.
I then started a computer course in accounting but toward the end my cancer specialist told me to go to hospital immediately and have surgery and chemotherapy or risk death., so I didn't learn that either.
While I was still recovering for the side effects of a stem cell transplant i published a small book on the health of Robert Louis Stevenson, and then did a CD which contained a talk on how I cured angina with a vegetarian diet in 1997.
Some years later i did another course in Dreamweaver, and by the second or third week was about to give up, but it all "clicked" and made sense and I completed the course successfully and have been using it for my website ever since.
In the meantime I started buying Apple computers from auctions and selling them to the public for a profit while I was recovering from the cancer and chemotherapy.. A few years later all of the second hand computer shops in Adelaide closed, and a few years after that I couldn't sell those computers any more.
In the meantime I was able to enter the stock market, and managed to make enough profit to enable me to go off the pension and lead a financially independent life in the future, but then the stock market crashed and my main shares went from $13 each to $1, and I lost all my profits.
I then tried to learn how to service microsoft windows PC's. I had problems with that for various reasons and had to stop one day when I was in a three car chain collision crash where I was in the front car. All of it's doors were jammed together, and my spine was similarly effected. However i didn't start getting pain until the next day and it got much worse over the next 2 weeks. Pills and physiotherapy didn't help, but massage therapy reversed that problem which subsided over the next 6 weeks and then I had about 3 years of mild recurring head aches.
I then went for an audition at an acting school and got a job on a TV pilot program, during which I practiced a stunt by jumping a fence. I injured my shoulder and within six months the pain became gradually worse and required surgery. Three months of complications followed and I now have scar tissue in the joint and occasional problems with aching.
I also did other voluntary work, and applied for part time work helping intellectually disabled people. When I filled out the medical part of the form i didn't think anyone would give me a job but they did. i started doing five hours a day once per week and then twice, and then for 8 hours of Thursday and five hours on Friday. However I was getting tired on Thursday, and when I woke up tired on Friday morning I was having difficulty maintaining my concentration while driving six people in a bus with cliffs on one side of the road and large trees on the other, so I knew that I would never be able to do it full time. However, I liked the people and the work, so i decided to continue working as a volunteer for five hours each Friday.
I kept doing that for four years when I started to get a back ache in my lower spine as I bent down to connect seat belts to the base of the bus, and within a few months it got gradually worse, regardless of what I did to prevent it, and it was causing me problems for the next day, and then for 2 days after, so I stopped.
I also started editing Wikipedia and in the first year added about one paragraph to six topics. I was not allowed to do a page about my own ideas, but when a woman sent me an email to tell me how useful my book had been to understanding her problems i asked if she would write a page, with me helping to ensure it's accuracy, and she agreed. it was posted onto Wikipedia and deleted a few months later for various reasons, supposedly "non-notability". I then started editing a page about Da Costa's syndrome but was being constantly criticised by 2 editors who managed to get me banned. In the meantime 2 neutral editors asked me to write the article outside of Wikipedia and post it back. I t was ultimately about 3 or 4 fullscap pages long, and supported by more than 60 top quality references. My 2 critics deleted it and replaced it with there own ridiculous version which included much of the information which I provided and their own interpretation.
I then became a critic of those 2 editors, and although I had no intention of criticising Wikipedia itself, in some respects that was unavoidable.
I also noticed that they were stealing my ideas by transferring them to other pages, and it became apparent that other people have been copying my ideas for many years, so although I continue to develop concepts I don't publish them anymore.
I suppose that I stopped trying to earn a living several years ago when the stock market crashed, but since then I have published my two main printed books as ebooks. They are full of facts and evidence and ideas but are not well written and I am not selling many.
I now criticise my two critics, and copywrite thieves, and produce ideas on any health problems which occur, but I don't publish them.
Faster, faster, faster, you can do it, you can do it, try harder, try harder, was bad advice for chronic fatigue patients
In 1975, as a patient with chronic problems with fatigue and abnormal responses to exertion I was being told that my problems were all in the mind and caused by a fear of the normal reactions that affect everybody who exercises.
I was given advice that all I had to do was ignore the symptoms and was encouraged to run faster, and faster, and faster until I reached a maximum level, and then keep doing it on a regular basis, and I was assured that if I did so I would return to normal health.
However I had previously been involved in gymnastics, and knew exactly what the normal symptoms of exercise were, and it was obvious that the symptoms at that time were quite abnormal.
I knew that the advice I had been given was wrong, and that the only way I would ever be able to train regularly, and in a consistent way was to walk or jog at a slow speed several times per week, and in doing so I did observe gradual improvement,,
However after six months of training up to four or more days per week I had reached a level of fitness which plateaud, and did not continue to improve any more, no matter how often I trained.
It was obvious that my limitations were due to some sort of physical impairment, and all good researchers know that their isn’t a complete cure for the ailment, so the fact that I didn’t return to normal levels should not surprise anyone.
The method has been widely used since then by people who have given particular names for it, and some claim to have invented the idea, but they either copied my methods and got the same success, or have found them indirectly from other people who have copied me, or have come to the same conclusions separately (after me).
I would describe my method as “training within your own limits” or (TWL), but other people gave it the label of “Graded exercise therapy” or (GET), some others call it “PACING” and refer to it as the best, and most effective method available in the world today.
There are also some anonymous editors in Wikipedia who have described my methods as nonsense, and deleted the information from a page called Da Costa’s syndrome, but others have produced a specific page called “Graded exercise therapy”, which is just a rewording of all of the details which I defined and developed.
People made worse by graded exercise are doing it wrong
After describing the favorable aspects they claim that 30-50% of patients are made worse. by using that method, but the editors did not provide a reference as evidence or proof of such an absurd statement.
Furthermore, any failure would not be due to any fault in my method, but would occur if the patients were advised, or forced to go faster than what they perceived as their limits.
If they trained properly within their limits they wouldn’t have problems and the exercise couldn’t make them worse.
Also, as a basic common sense principle of preventing exercise from making the patient worse, anyone who has problems with exercise should not be forced to use it as a treatment method.
See newspaper reports about the success of my research methods here
and the Wikipedia page here
Note also that if other researchers are jealous or spiteful about me being the developer of that method, then they could deliberately force the patients to run too fast, and then argue that exercise was a useless and dangerous method.
I accuse Wikipedia of breeching my copyright for CFS exercise methods
I am publicly accusing anonymous Wikipedia editors of stealing my ideas without acknowledging me as the true source, and am holding the Wikipedia administrators personally responsible for fixing that crime by acknowledging me as the author of those ideas and using my essays and books and website as links and references.
The details used in their page called Graded Exercise Therapy (as of 18th December 2012) are exactly the same as those which I developed for the South Australian Institute for Fitness Research and Training in 1982 except that the people who copied them, including anonymous Wikipedia editors, have written up the same principles in different words.
It is the equivalent of them using the ingredients of Coca Cola and calling it Graded Cola and then pretending that it is something different.
Of course some of them know that they are copying my ideas but they don't want the readers or public to know so they are trying to hide the fact and make it look as if they weren't.
The time frame for breech of my copyright
1975-1976 I developed the method of training within my own limits to treat my own fatigue. (Essentially if I ran fast I would get abnormal symptoms and had to stop, so I decided, that instead of quitting, I would slow down and keep going, even if all I could do was walk).
1976-1982 Some time during 1976 and 1982 I read research papers which argued that patients such as myself were fatigued due to lack or exercise, and the fear of exercise, and that scientific data about their response to exercise could not be gained because they "would not, or could not train".
1982 -1983 I was invited to design a program for the South Australian Institute for Fitness Research and Training to enable other people with those symptoms to train. See here.
5:58 on 16th December 2008 I added the following information to a Wikipedia article about Da Costa’s syndrome in which one of the main symptoms is fatigue . . .
“From 1982 -1983, researchers at the South Australian Institute For Fitness Research and Training examined more than 80 volunteers with persistent fatigue and found similar results, and a training programme was designed on the basis that they would participate if they kept within their own limits and improved at their own rate. Eleven who didn’t train were examined 6 months later with no significant change. Ten completed three months training of 2 hours per night twice per week, and six completed six months or more. Three cases improved but plateaud after three months below 600 kgm/min, and 3 of those who were initially recorded as below 400 kgm/min showed significant improvement. Twelve months after starting the training programme one of the participants entered a six mile marathon and completed it." (end of quote).
Although the results were not published in medical journals the general findings were reported in several Australian newspapers.” See here
December 2008 to January 2009 Two editors criticised me relentlessly for the next 12 months, describing my ideas as non-notable fringy nonsense etc, and
deleted the information about my research. e.g. here and here and here
At 13:57 on 18th December 2008 a Wikipedia editor named SpiderDawn started a brand new page called Graded Exercise Therapy with these words . . .
“A treatment for people with chronic fatigue syndrome (or other disease-induced fatigue) which involves monitoring and logging a person's daily activity levels to establish a threshold point (when symptoms are worsened by such activity) for experiencing chronic fatigue symptoms. This data is used to manage a person's physical therapy routines with the goal of improving the person's quality of life in respect to the illness.[dubious – discuss]
(As you can see that instead of providing a reference or comment on who actually developed that method they have placed the words “Citation Needed”, which means reference needed).
They have also added the words dubious, with a request to discuss it. here
They have also put it in the category of category of medical treatment.
At 16:17 on the same day an editor named VVerbal added the following words
“This article does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2008)” See here
At 15:36 on 28th January 2009 I was banned from Wikipedia here
At 18:01 on 5th August 2010 another editor named Moon Rising added these words to the page . . .
“Graded exercise therapy (GET) is physical activity that starts very slowly and gradually increases over time. This approach is used as part of a treatment plan for [[chronic fatigue syndrome]] (CFS) and certain other conditions. This method avoids the extremes of the "push-crash" cycle of over exercising during remittance or not exercising at all due to concern of relapse. <ref> http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/general/treatment/options.html#get </ref>”
and . . .
“Typically the GET begins with active stretching, followed by range-of-motion contractions and extensions, done for five minutes per day for a completely inactive individual. Avoiding extremes is key, and activity must be balanced with rest. Exercise sessions should be preset by the number of repetitions or amount of time. The duration is determined by the patient using trial and error, with the goal of stopping before becoming tired. Research has shown that gradual, guided physical activity can be helpful for those suffering from CFS. <ref> http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/general/treatment/options.html#get </ref><br />” See here
At 1:56 on 15th August 2010 another editor changed the words to read as follows . . .
“'''Graded exercise therapy''' (GET) is physical activity that starts very slowly and gradually increases over time.This approach is used as part of a treatment plan for [[chronic fatigue syndrome]] (CFS) and certain other conditions . This method avoids the extremes of the "push-crash" cycle of over exercising during remittance or not exercising at all due to concern of relapse.<ref>http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/general/treatment/options.html#get</ref>” See here
At 15:21 an editor named BornGinger added some comments regarding doubts about the vaiue of the value of the methods See here
At 12:02 on 13th October 2012 (2 months ago) the most recent version can be seen as much the same here
The instruction sheet which I designed for the field instructor for chronic fatigue patients in 1982 (thirty years ago) can be see here
The principles which I developed are also described on my website here
The monitoring of symptoms in CFS
Wikipedia's monitoring method
Note that the Wikipedia article says this about monitoring progress with the exercise . . .
"A treatment for people with chronic fatigue syndrome (or other disease-induced fatigue) which involves monitoring and logging a person's daily activity levels to establish a threshold point (when symptoms are worsened by such activity) for experiencing chronic fatigue symptoms. This data is used to manage a person's physical therapy routines with the goal of improving the person's quality of life in respect to the illness.[dubious – discuss] (end of quote) here
See also this report by a website called the Bulletin of the IACFS/Me by Tom Kindlon, on the harm supposedly being caused by GET here.
My monitoring method
Note also that 33 years earlier, in 1975 I was making notes on symptoms changes on a minute to minute, and day to day basis, and recording my pulse rate etc after every training session, and having three monthly scientific measurements of my pulse and heart function while sitting on an exercise bike strapped to wires which connected my chest, arms and legs to a cardiograph etc.
i.e. I was doing everything scientifically, and not just scribbling notes on the back of a piece of scrap paper.
Also note that there was no such thing as specialised classes for chronic fatigue, so I had to invent a method while training in a standard class where everyone else was a lot healthier than me and were running faster and out lapping me on a four hundred yard oval track.
Note that when I joined exercise classes at the Institute for Fitness Research and Training each person was given a card to record the date of their training and pulse rate etc. See here.
The Semantics of Graded Exercise Therapy
When I read the medical literature I found a comment by other researchers that it was not possible to get scientific data on the effects of exercise on patients with chronic fatigue because they "could not or would not train" for long enough.
Do solve that problem I explained that the patients had physical limits, and that if 100 of them were asked to exercise then probably 50 would not even start. If you set the goal of low levels of exercise in the first month, then it might be too much for some of the patients so, probably 30 would drop out before the end of the month. If you then increased the level in the second month then it would probably be above the level of some of them, so when they would start to get the distressing symptoms and 10 more would drop out. If you then increased the level again in the third month, then the remaining 10 would drop out, and there wouldn't be any left, so the attempts to get scientific data would fail.
I therefore explained that if you tell someone to exercise and they train regularly and consistently, then their fitness may increase, so the that should be the objective of the course - to keep the patients training.
The only way to do that is to start them at the level which they are already comfortable with. In other words, if they can walk, then just tell them to walk as they normally do, but regularly, and in an organised way that can be scientifically monitored.
If they continue to train their fitness might improve, and then they will be able to increase their level of exercise without any adverse symptoms, but if they do have any problems then just drop back to whatever level is acceptable.
The research program proceeded according to plan and 9 people trained for three months, and five for six months or more. Four improved their level of fitness, One dropped slightly and left the course after the first period, and one dropped slightly after 3 months but continued training and returned to the previous level.
In other words I had scientifically proven that it was possible to get chronic fatigue patients to train if you designed the exercise program appropriately.
Since then many people have copied those principle without acknowledging me as the source. For example, they have called the method "", with the emphasis on "gradually" improving fitness levels, instead of vigorously and quickly.
The types of programs which fail are those where the people in charge set increasing weekly targets, in which case the patients try to achieve them until they get the adverse symptoms and drop out.
The types of program which succeed are those which copy the details of my method.
Namely, they add in their description of "Graded Exercise Therapy" some words like these . . .
The patient should determine the level of exercise . . . and . . . slowly, carefully, and gradually increase their levels of exercise . . . and . . . "Avoiding extremes is key" . . . and . . . It is important not to continue exercising if you experience problems, so as to avoid the push/crash cycle . . . and . . . to avoid relapses of the fatigue etc.
(See where those details have been copied into Wikipedia by anonymous editors here).
In other words they are not just using a simple "Graded Exercise" method . . . They are using my method where the patient determines the level, and is improving according to their own judgment, and is avoiding the type and levels of exercise which causes problems.
The medical ideas of 1975
When I was consulting my doctor in 1975 he had sent me to various medical tests but was unable to diagnose my health problems, or explain the cause, or treat any of the symptoms effectively. He had previously prescribed numerous medications, and at that time I was taking one 500mg capsule of a drug called Sodium Amytal. When he increased the dosage to 750mg I decided to stop taking pills and begin studying medicine to find the cause myself. There were many symptoms, where the main ones were chest pains, palpitations, breathlessness, faintness, fatigue, and abdominal pain. The only fact that I knew at that stage was that they were made worse by leaning toward a desk all day. However,I didn't know how that could be causing symptoms because I knew absolutely nothing about anatomy or physiology.
My ideas from 1975 onwards
Within a few years I was able to observe the details from my own experience and identify that poor posture was the cause of most if not all of those symptoms, and later that sideways curvature of the spine had an influence, as well as chest shape, where people with broad and deep chests would be unlikely to have the symptoms, and those with long, narrow, flat or receding chests would be more likely to develop the problem. I also later established that similar problems affected nineteenth century women who compressed their chest and abdomen with tight waisted whalebone corsets, and pregnant women whose internal anatomy was compressed as the enlarging womb gradually rose in the abdomen.
I had developed the idea that the faintness was due to the long term affects of postural compression of the air in the chest which impeded the flow of blood between the feet and the brain, and that the chronic fatigue was due to the fact that such repeated pressure strained and damaged the blood vessels below the chest, to produce weak circulation. I also developed, and reviewed other ideas about displacement of the internal anatomy, or visceroptosis being a cause.
I had also observed, and later scientifically proved that the problems with exercise were related to a chronically reduced aerobic capacity, and that the symptoms could be significantly prevented by exercising within individual limits, and extended that idea to include modifying lifestyle to avoid hurrying and worrying, and get more rest, more frequently than healthy people.
Portrait of a Da Costa's syndrome patient showing the typical thin and stooped physique (from a book published in 1956)
See more details here.
The medical theories up until 1975
Nowadays, I can look back at that experience, and I have acquired a knowledge of the history of medicine, and I can report that in1975 the medical literature of the 1950's and earlier had included some suggestions that poor posture may have been the cause, but nobody had pursued the idea, and they had been abandoned in favor of the anxiety theories. Similarly, in the early twentieth century the relation between exercise and symptoms had been reported, and graduated exercise programs had been recommended as a treatment. However those programs lost their popularity largely because of negative results where patients would have dropped out of the training when they went beyond their own limits. The general attitude was that the patients could not or would not train, with the implication that they were too lazy, or didn't want to get better, or were easily discouraged by effort and adversity, or that the symptoms were due to a fear of exercise, the fear of sport, the fear of heart disease or death, and the fear of people, or the fear of everything (agoraphobia). It was also thought that they were afraid of the normal symptoms of emotion and exercise and it was observed that many of the patients were anxious or depressed so, in 1975, the only treatments available were medications to dampen down the symptoms, and psychotherapy for anxiety or depression.
Wikipedia 2007 - 2012
While I was involved in Wikpedia between 2007 and early 2009, I added some of my own ideas to a page about Da Costa's syndrome and two arrogant and ill-mannered editors described me as a worthless, non-notable fringy kook whose contributions were nonsense, and they argued that the information must come from medical journals and be based on the formal and brief definitions found in dictionaries. Amongst their rather arrogant and offensive statements they suggested that "i meant well" and that I had a "noble" cause, and that I "believed" that my own ideas had practically saved my own life, and that I was "trying to help other people" with my own ideas about "how the body worked" but it was not "appropriate" for Wikipedia. See on of my reports of their
They deleted all of the scientific evidence and proof of physical cause, and all independent scientific evidence which verified my ideas, and replaced it with descriptions of anxiety and imaginary disorders, and mental illnesses. However, they did not recommend psychotherapy, but kept my description of the best way of treating the symptoms which were based entirely on my theory about posture, and my research about exercise.
I recommended improving posture, wearing loose garments, exercising within limits, modifying lifestyle, avoiding stooping, and standing up slowly when necessary to avoid faintness.
They managed to get me banned in January 2009. but my treatment recommendations are the only ones which are still in the article more than three years later, in April 2012, because none of the other editors has had any reason to dispute any word of it. However, my two critics obviously resent the fact that I developed the ideas, and don't want the public to know, so they haven't mentioned my name or acknowledged me as the real source of the best information in the world today - 2012.
See the current treatment section here, and how they tried to delete all of my contributions and all information about my theory here, and one of my reports on how they defamed my character here, and examples of their offensive and ill-mannered behaviour here, and their ill-mannered response to me here.
My theory - Posture "is" one of the causes
When I wrote The Posture Theory it was a way of explaining the cause of my own symptoms largely based on my own observations, but at some stage I came across a portrait of the physique of the typical patient, which was exactly the same as my own, and confirmed my conclusions. However, I also set up and attended other groups of people with the same ailment and noticed that they didn't all have stooped spines, so ultimately I came to the conclusion that such a physique "disposed" to the problem, or made it more likely" to affect those individuals, and that it was "part" of the cause in some cases, and possibly the "main", or "only" cause in others, but that there were also other possibilities. In other words, the fact that my physique is exactly the same as the typical physique described by some of the top researchers in the world is more than just a coincidence.
Critics who say it can't be the cause because some patients have good posture
Some people are simpletons who can't actually think carefully enough to solve problems themselves,. They argue that if the ailment can effect people with good posture, then it is "nonsense" to say that poor posture is the cause. They are like the people who argue that cigarette smoking can't be the cause of lung cancer because their uncle never smoked and died of lung cancer at the age of 40. However they don't take into account that other factors such as industrial air pollution can cause the same problem.
Critics who say it is nonsense because it is not consistent with "modern" opinion
The other main argument as presented by two Wikipedia editors was that it wasn't consistent with "modern" ideas, and was therefore nonsense. However many of the ideas which were considered "modern" in the nineteenth century have since been proven wrong. Furthermore, as recently as the 1980's it was popular to believe that nothing could live in stomach acid, and that it was therefore impossible for stomach ulcers to be caused by microbes, and must be psychosomatic. However, it has since been found that some microbes are "acid resistant" and that the cause is microbial, and curable by anti-biotics. In other words, just because an "opinion" is "modern" and widely accepted, does not mean that all other ideas are wrong.
The Posture Theory diagram and copyright
The Posture Theory diagram is unique to my theory, and is subject to my copyright, and so, to ensure that people are aware of that I have included the copyright symbol on it.
It shows the types of pressure and strain on internal anatomy that occurs when a man is stooped at a desk.
However, the theory does not attribute disease to the constant stoop, but to the process of repeatedly leaning forward and back at a desk, and repeatedly compressing the chest and stomach etc.
Therefore, at a later stage, I decided to show that movement in picture format. In order to do that I needed to draw the same man in the upright position, and then use aindexn editing process to make the two diagrams swap over each time the mouse is moved in and out of the top one. The net result is to give the readers of my website a good visual impression of what happens to the internal anatomy when the man stoops forward and back at the desk. The diagram also explains that the worse the shape of the mans spine, and the worse the angle of stoop, the more the pressure on internal anatomy each time.
Hence it also explains why some people can lean forward all day without any effect, and others can't. i.e. Those with stooped spines who bend at the waist will be compressing their internal anatomy, and those with straight spines and lean from the hips won't be doing any harm.
The proper use of my research theories and diagrams
Everything original in my books and website are my intellectual property and subject to my copyright, but they have been provided to help other people understand or research health problems, and so, from what I understand of the copyright laws they can use small quotes, or some of the diagrams, and make brief summaries of the ideas for the own reviews or articles on similar topics, as long as they acknowledge the source of the information.
I naturally have no objection to that, because I have had to study the work of many other intelligent people to find the clues which I used to construct my ideas, and without them I would not have been able to solve a lot of mysteriesl. That process can continue.
A note on the violation of my copyright
I began studying medicine after doctors were unable to explain my many health problems in 1975, and it took me five years of making detailed observations to draw the conclusion that most of them were caused by a common factor, namely poor posture.
In the thirty years since I have been involved in many other activities but have often resumed my study and published my ideas.
On one occasion in about 1994, I was diagnosed with a form of cancer called Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and told that I had only two months to live, so I decided that it would be impossible to cure it myself, and started writing about posture and health again. Over the next eight years I continued to live, during which time I added about 100 pages per year until I was cured of cancer by a stem cell transplant in the year 2000.
In the meantime I sold most my books to school and public libraries where they could be read by teachers and the public for free to gain a better understand the nature of posture related health problems. In particular I wanted parents and teachers to know how to prevent postural problems in the next generation of children.
As you can see I don't have objection to anyone using my ideas and diagrams as long as they show their gratitude by acknowledging the source by mentioning my name, book, or website.
However, many unscrupulous people have breached my copyright and stolen my ideas by using my diagrams without mentioning the real source, and have been giving the false impression that they were their own ideas.
One such group of individuals were reading my website, copying the information, rewriting the words, and anonymously adding the information to various topic pages. They were also defaming my character by arguing that I am a non-notable fringy kook.
Unfortunately, in the process of defending my rights I have had to criticise those editors.
However, many other people who previously used my ideas or diagrams for honest reasons may have felt as if I was criticisng them, and deleted those items from their own websites.
I would like to reassure honest, respectable, and ethical people that if they wish to mention, quote from, or review my ideas and diagrams in the appropriate way that I have no objection, and if fact invite them to do so. All they need to do is use the copyright symbol on the diagram, and acknowledge the source of the diagram or any other information they use.
In the meantime one of the problems which has arisen from me having to respond to couple of hostile critics is that it seems to have made me appear to be a somewhat unreasonable person when in fact, I am only doing what I consider to be necessary.
A note on the violation of my copyright by Wikipedia
Re: One of many examples
The Posture Theory and the cause of chronic fatigue
In order to understand this matter you need to know that the main symptom of a medical condtion called Da Costa's syndrome is fatigue, and that there are more than 100 labels for the same problem, and more than 100 theories about the cause. The main theories are that it is due to a disorder of the mind or the nervous system, and I have said that it is due to a disorder of the blood vessels.
Chronic fatigue is one of the most common ailments in the world today, affecting 2-4% of the population, or more than 200 million people. There are many possible causes, and not every person with chronic fatigue has a poor posture. However, in 1980, I presented a theory in which I suggested that people with stooped spines, who sat at a desk all day and repeatedly leaned forward to read or write, were repeatedly compressing the air in their chest, and partially blocking the blood flow between their feet and brain to strain and damage the blood vessels below the chest. The result would be a weakness in the blood flow between the feet and the brain, which would dispose to poor concentration, and faintness (particularly if the person suddenly moved from the laying to the standing position), and a tendency to be more tired than usual. The inefficient flow of blood between the feet and heart would also reduce the capacity for physical exercise, and cause a tendency to become fatigued more easily than usual.
I was the first person in the world to say that chronic fatigue was specifically due to a disorder of blood vessels.
In December 2007 I added those ideas to a page in Wikipedia about a medical condition called Da Costa's syndrome, where fatigue is the main symptom, and an editor named Arcadian deleted the link to my website, and added links to other websites which had lists of mental illnesses. Another editor, who became my main critic, put the topic into the category of "Anxiety disorders", and teamed up with another to tell everyone else that my ideas were nonsense and crap, and delete them, and eventually arranged for me to be banned.
However, one of the modern labels for that problem is "Orthostatic intolerance", and, on 28th July 2011, the editor named Arcadian, put the article about that subject in the category of "Vascular diseases" (i.e. blood vessel disorders)
I therefore accuse him and Wikipedia of defaming my character and breeching my copyright, and I want that organisation to do something about it.
For the evidence see here and here and here and here and here and here.
Some of the many arguments started in December 2007 and went through to 14th February 2008, where my main critic said arrogantly that Da Costa's syndrome was just "garden variety" orthostatic intolerance. here,
That editor knew that my responses to her arguments were correct but didn't want to admit it in the Da Costa's discussions, so two weeks later, on 29th January, she went to the Orthostatic Intolerance page without telling me, and tried to redirect it to "Orthostatic hypotension". See here
However, fourteen hours later on the same day Arcadian changed it back to Orthostatic Intolerance. It was described as a disorder of the nervous system here.
Another editor changed the category from "Cardiology" to "Neurology" in October 2008 here and I was banned a few months later.
However, two and a half years after that, in July 2011, Arcadian changed it from "Neurology" to "Cardiovascular diseases", and then, to Vascular diseases" here.
(i.e. the arguments have gone full circle back to what I said about Da Costa's syndrome in 2007)
If you have a close look at both pages you can see that the symptoms are the same, except that the Da Costa's symptoms are mentioned in one "paragraph", and the Orthostatic Intolerance symptoms are mentioned in one "list".
The editors who were arguing with me about Da Costa's syndrome, were also making changes on several other pages to make them agree with my ideas, suggestions, research, and theories. See here.
(I don't expect the editors to agree with my theory, but they should have included it in Wikipedia for the public to consider along with all the other theories (which change every decade). However they didn't have to, but if they used the components of my theory on other pages they should have acknowledged me as the source, instead of looking for someone else to attribute it to. I have researched this topic, and I am the author of the information and ideas).
The main argument for deleting all of my ideas is because, in the opinion of two editors they are not "notable", or worthy of being mentioned in Wikipedia unless they have been published in a medical journal.
I have had more than 100 letters and essays published in newspapers and magazines, and have written a 1000 page book, and had a website for more than 15 years, and apparantly that isn't good enough?
However there is a page about an American baseball player who hit one home run in a game more than 100 years ago?
How my critics are deceiving YOU the intelligent readers
Most intelligent people can easily understand what I am about to say, except for the fact that they haven't studied the problem before, and won't be familiar with the jargon, so to make it easy for intelligent carpenters, journalists, mathematicians, or physicists to understand I will give you a quick description in plain English.
According to my theory poor posture compresses the air in the chest and puts strain on all of the blood vessels below and eventually stretches and weakens them, and makes them more likely to stretch whenever more postural pressure is applied, or whenever the person exercises.
About ten years after writing that theory I found that nineteenth century women who wore tight waisted corsets had exactly the same symptoms, so I wrote a theory that those corsets damaged and weakened some or all of the blood vessels below the waistline.
My two critics told all of the other editors that my ideas were stupid and deleted them. However, in order to fool you into believing that I was wrong, they went to the page called "Orthostatic Intolerance" which has the same symptoms with a different name. They don't want you to know that they are the same, and if you asked them they would say they were 'slightly different' in ways that only 'sophisticated' editors like themselves understand.
I would like you to accept that for the moment, because I will now explain how they are trying to make you, or anyone else who understands this topic, think that my ideas are ridiculous.
The page about Orthostatic intolerance includes a section on how to manage the symptoms which says
"using postural maneuvers and pressure garments" (end of quote). See here
I now want you to know what they are doing - I said that the ailment was caused by tight garments, and they are telling their readers that the symptoms are relieved by tight garments.
Now you can see how they were trying to make me look ridiculous to their colleagues, and to you, if you have understood their arguments.
However they haven't mentioned a couple of simple details because they don't want you to know, so I will now give a clear and plain English example so that you can easily understand.
If you was to wear a very tight and narrow leg garter just above your knee for several months, the blood vessels below the garter level would be under strain, and become weak and stretch. In other words you would get "varicose veins". Those veins therefore have a larger diameter and hold more blood, so there would be slightly less blood available to your brain and you would have a very minor tendency to faintness and fatigue.
I added that information to the Varicose veins page and two editors deleted it, so you can't see it anymore.
Now, if you wear a slightly tight leg stocking that covers the entire length of your leg, it will relieve the symptoms by stopping the weak varicose veins from stretching.
You can now understand that poor posture only compresses the chest, and tight corsets only compress the waist, and stretches the veins below to cause symptoms. However, wearing a whole body stocking which covered all of the chest and abdomen would prevent those veins from stretching and relieve the symptoms.
Now that you know the facts you may be able to see how my critics are trying to make you believe that tight garments relieve the symptoms and therefore my idea that tight garments cause them is ridiculous.
I hope that you are intelligent and that my explanation has stopped them from fooling you. See more of my reports here and here and here and here and here and here.
Solving problems is not a popularity contest
Many people resent me for proving that the symptoms of hypocohonrica were not "all in the mind"
I began researching the medical literature in 1975 for one reason, and one reason only, to try and solve the type of health problems that my own doctor had been unable to relieve for many years.
I didn't think the task would be easy, so I was only interested in using the best and most reliable methods and information that I could find.
Consequently I had to use facts, and facts only, and that required me to distinguish facts from assumptions, opinions, lies, and nonsense.
Part of that process involved making observations, and checking and double checking them, and comparing them to anatomy and scientific research findings, over an over again and again, year in and year out.
My intentions were very focused and serious, and I had absolutely no intentions in mucking about with any thing dubious or useless.
However, I was aware that many ordinary people who studied medicine were only interested in making money out of gullible patients, so they would set up clinics and claim to be able to cure diseases by waving crystals about, or by using complicated looking machines.
I was also aware that most highly qualified graduates would only do research if they were paid, and stop if the funding of their projects ran out, so they would be highly motivated to produce ideas or results which pleased the organisations, such as the tobacco or chemical industry, which provided the funds. Typically they would hide the harmful effects of cigarette smoke and toxic spills, and write something favourable about them.
In other words I was aware that money and politics influenced the general literature, and that if I wanted to solve a health problem I had to cull them out of consideration.
After seven years of study I was aware that the symptom of chronic fatigue was generally regarded as having a psychological cause, and was "all in the mind", and was the main symptom of hypochondria, which is portrayed as an illness which involves imaginary symptoms.
However I also found that many different researchers had a wide variety of ideas about cause, and at one early stage I was able to recognise that it had been given at least 30 different labels.
Therefore in my search for facts, evidence, and clues I looked for information through indexes to research papers which had the titles of Da Costa's syndrome, neurocirculatory asthenia, and anxiety state etc.
I also looked for information under the topic of 'hypochondria' and found that it originally referred to a disease which started in the upper abdomen. (hypo means below, and chondros means the cartilages of the ribs, and hypochondria means a disease just below the ribs). See here.
About seven years after I started I was invited to design an exercise program for patients with chronic fatigue at the South Australian Institute for Research and Training where I was able to scientifically prove that it was a real physical ailment, and within a year was completely successful. See here.
I didn't set out with the objective of solving one of the world's most confusing medical mysteries, but that is what I achieved.
I was also aware that it was very ironic for a person like myself, who was supposed to be mentally weak, to solve a problem that the most intelligent doctors were not able to solve.
However, the fact remains that I was not mentally weak, and the doctors who thought that were wrong, so they shouldn't be embarrassed by the fact that I was able to achieve such a result, because any intelligent person, either inside, or outside of the medical profession, could do the same if they applied themselves to the task.
At one stage I determined that for every doctor there was 1000 patients, and many of them would have very high IQ's at much the same level as top researchers.
When I decided to leave the research program I was asked to prepare a report for publication in a medical journal, but I didn't have any training in writing up research papers so I asked the head of the institute if one of his cardiologists could do it for me, but they were too busy so I did it myself and submitted it to two journals. It was not accepted for standard reasons, such as it was not written in the appropriate academic format.
In the meantime I contacted a freelance journalist in Melbourne by phone, and he prepared a newspaper summary of the project and sent it off the various newspapers. At one stage I became aware that versions of it had been published in four major Australian newspapers, and I assumed, but could not confirm that such items would have been included in many major international newspapers as well.
One indication of it's widespread distribution came when the head of the Adelaide institute invited me to a meeting where he explained that one of his researchers involved in our project had transferred to Sydney (more than a thousand miles away), and had seen the report in the Sydney Morning Herald, which was probably Australia's most famous, and largest selling newspaper of that time. He said that he thought the article was excellent, but that he was a bit concerned at me mentioning the word "hypochondria", and suggested, in a matter of fact manner, that it would be best if I didn't do that in future.
I fully understood and appreciated what he meant, and didn't want to cause anyone any fuss or embarrassment.
However, my situation was awkward, because the only way I was able to solve a problem that no-one else could solve was by adhering strictly to the facts, and considering "all" sources of cluese, and it was a "fact" that the ailment had previously been categorised as imaginary, and hypochondria, and that many clues to the physical cause were in that literature.
Ultimately I just stuck to the facts.
The consequences of that were largely unnoticed because I was no longer involved with formal research, but twenty years later, when I joined Wikipedia I was confronted by a lot of hostility from two editors in particular, who obviously resented information about my findings being included in their articles. See here.
More recently I noticed that the Lancet medical journal, and Nature magazine have awarded the John Maddox prize to a psychiatrist named Simon Wessely for his "courageous" research into chronic fatigue and exercise, which he started in 1987.
It is much the same as my research which I completed three years earlier in 1984.
I have watched a Youtube video of the presentation and it seems that the people involved are all sincere, and are not aware of my research, or they would have given me that award. Whether or not Simon Wessely got his ideas from me or not is irrelevant, because the first person to make the finding is the one who gets the credit. See my report here.
For example, there were several people who were developing ideas about evolution in the nineteenth century. Charles Darwin was the first so he deserved the credit.
The popular medical theories which I have proven wrong
When I was young I always got along well with my doctors, so I have never had any particular reason to dislike or despise them. However, in 1975 I had acquired many health problems which they were unable to diagnose or treat effectively, so it became imperative that I study them myself to develop an understanding on the cause and how to treat them more effectively.
I did not set out with the intention of proving medical theories wrong, or of embarrassing doctors, but that does appear to be the consequence of finding the actual causes of some ailments.
I have tried, for the most part to be diplomatic by avoiding any mention of the fact that my theories prove others wrong, but in many cases it has been obvious, and unavoidable. Nevertheless I have always found that in the vast majority of cases doctors have accepted my suggestions in a matter of fact manner without concern or offense. Nevertheless there have bee some occasions when it was obvious to me that a doctor or researcher were extremely embarrassed or resentful of the fact that I have proven their ideas wrong.
This became most apparent to me, woman who I have never met, sent me an email to let me know how useful my book about posture had been to her understanding of her own health problems, and I asked her to write a review of it for Wikipedia, I assisted her in making it accurate by summarising it myself, and asking her to rewrite the aspects that she agreed with in her own words, so that it complied with the requirement of being an independent persons assessment.
During the next few weeks I suggested that she make some slight improvements in the wording to make it more accurate and precise, and to cover all of the most important aspects.
The article essentially said that many symptoms were caused by poor posture, and with her excellent writing style being better than mine, and with Wikipedia's excellent fonts and layouts being better than mine, the article was looking excellent in every respect.
However, I then asked her to mention that the "many symptoms" that were caused by poor posture were collectively known as "hypochondria".
In other words, in one brief instance the article went from being about poor posture being the cause of many symptoms, to poor posture being the cause of the symptoms of hypochondria". In other words it became an article which proved that the symptoms of hypochondria are real not imaginary, and proved that the old and popular widely accepted medical theory was wrong.
Within the next eight hours about seven different editors rushed into a discussion and said . . .
"Speedy delete, delete, Speedy delete, Delete, Delete, Delete, Delete", and each of them gave somewhat different reasons, or objections, or excuses for wanting it removed entirely (not just changed back to "poor posture causes many symptoms"). Their reasons included accusations that the author had broken the rules of "copyright violation", "original research", "single-purpose account", Non-notable", "WP:Fringe" (fringe theory), and "one guy's theory".
It was very obvious to me that the seven anonymous editors were probably anonymous doctors or psychologists who resented or even hated me for proving their ideas wrong, and that they were utterly determined to get my theory thrown out of Wikipedia as soon as possible, if not immediately.
Soon after that I found a page called Da Costa's syndrome so I began editing it and within a short time I was confronted by two editors who proceeded to delete everything I wrote about my own ideas, and inventing policy reasons as their excuse for deleting everything else I added from top quality independent sources.
Their criticism could be summed up as an arrogant, resentful, spiteful. vindictive, ill-mannered, disrespectful, hostile, raging, never ending, ranting and raving, hysterical series of temper tantrums which didn't stop until I was banned. In the meantime they called me a worthless, fringy kook who wrote nonsense and crap based on poor quality references, that no other editor had ever agreed with.
It is obvious to me that many people do not want me or my ideas in Wikipedia for several reasons, one of which is the fact that they resent me for proving them wrong, and they don't want the public to know.
I am a friendly person, and I don't resent or hate doctors, but I have to defend myself from the criticism of my ideas, so I will give a list of many of the popular and widely accepted medical and psychological theories which I have proven wrong, at least in my case, if not more generally.
I have proven that . . .
1. The symptoms of Da Costa's syndrome are not imaginary
2. The chest pain is not imaginary
3. The chest pain has a physical basis
4. The chest pain is due to inflammation and tenderness between ribs (due to poor posture).
5. The breathlessness is not imaginary
5a. The breathlessness is not the same as the hyperventilation of panic attacks.
7. The faintness is not imaginary
8. The fatigue is not imaginary
9. The abdominal pain is not imaginary
10. The abnormal physical response to exercise is not imaginary
11. The symptoms are not fake
12. The symptoms are not due to a lack of exercise
13, The symptoms are not due to a fear of exercise
14. The symptoms are not due to a fear of sport, See here.
15. The symptoms are not the result of being molly coddled by mothers when young
16. The symptoms are not due to being protected from the dangers of sport when young
17. The symptoms are not due to weak will power or the inability to persevere against the normal adversities of life
18. The symptoms are not due to depression, sadness, moodiness, or a sense of hopelessness
The symptoms are not due to mysterious, subconscious psychological factors of any sort.
See also my report on the John Maddox Prize here
Let me introduce myself and my ideas
My name is Max Banfield. In 1975 I had many health problems which were not responding to treatment so I began reading the medical literature to determine the cause and treatment myself.
At that stage my symptoms included a high pulse rate, the occasional need to take extra deep breaths, and fluctuations in blood pressure, which were made worse by physical exertion.
One of the first ideas I developed were based on the fact that the adrenal glands produce adrenaline which increases pulse rate and breathing rate etc. so I concluded that it may be due to a disorder of the adrenal glands.
In my experience the faintness had sometimes been caused when I leaned toward a desk, or a bench, which led to me drawing the conclusion, after four years of consideration, that leaning forward was putting pressure on the air in my chest and slowing down the flow of blood between the feet and brain to cause faintness, abnormal tiredness, and abnormal responses to exertion.
I also noticed that tight belts, collars and shirts seemed to aggravate the symptoms so I concluded that they were pressing on internal structures which in turn compressed blood vessels and had a similar effect, and later found that nineteenth century women who wore tight waisted corsets were always feeling faint and were easily exhausted, and that they relieved their faintness by unlacing the corset, but continued to be prone to faintness and fatigue. Another cause of their fatigue could be displacement of the internal organs, called visceroptosis, which has various adverse effects, and alters the pressure within the chest and abdomen.
I also noted in the literature that the same symptoms were regarded as the common complications of pregnancy, so I concluded that the enlarging womb of pregnancy was causing upward pressure on the stomach, heart, and lungs, and compressing the air in the chest to produce the same effect.
I also concluded that shock waves could pass through the human body to shake the nerves, or the blood vessels, and interfere with the blood flow by that means.
I also considered that the brain and central nervous system controlled the bodies reflexes to ensure that pulse rate, blood pressure and breathing rate was stable, and that something abnormal about the nervous system may be responsible for the symptoms. My general observations led me to conclude that it might be a disorder of regulation of the nervous system rather than an excessive response.
A similar concept was mentioned to me by Tony Sedgewick in 1982 when I was discussing my ideas with him in relation to an exercise program for chronic fatigue at the South Australian Institute For Fitness Research and Training.
I suggested that the symptoms could be treated by keeping exercise and lifestyle within appropriate limits.
I also found that many patients seemed to develop those symptoms after a viral infection such as glandular fever, or the flu, or typhoid etc.
I have had the flu many times myself, and sometimes it involved a week of muscle and skeletal pains, and other times nausea, and other times a week of fatigue. Furthermore, i read a report that some people would recover from the viral infection, but continue to be easily exhausted by effort, so it seemed to be a reasonable possibility, although not in my case..
Other people have reported that they experienced chronic fatigue after being exposed to toxic chemicals such as pesticides etc. so the possiblity is that those chemicals have damaged the nervous system etc.
I also read about people who experienced a psychological trauma such as the death of a family member, or the devastating financial and social effects of a flood or a drought, so that possibility also seemed reasonable.
I also read that extreme exertion in cold and wet weather while being poorly fed could cause similar chronic problems, and that excessive exertion of other sorts could be a cause. For example many runners become extremely exhausted after a marathon, but recover quickly, but those who do several marathons in a row, or those who attempt world records sometimes experience chronic fatigue, so I concluded that they overdo it to the point that their bodies can't recover properly, and that they only partially recover, and therefore have problems with chronic fatigue afterwards
I rarely discuss my theory of a postural cause with the people I meet, because the whole area is full of controversy, but when I do the most common reaction is that it a very logical idea, or they describe it as brilliant, or refer to me as the most creative person they have ever met.
However, when I discuss it in the media or on the internet with people who I have never met, they tend to assume that I am a fringy kook who thought up that idea in five minutes, and that I only have one idea, and they become almost instantly insulting and hostile toward me, and treat me as if I disagree with their ideas. All of my ideas are discussed in my 1000 page book called The Posture Theory which was published between 1993 and 2000 See here.
I set up self help groups in 1984
Between November 1984 and March 1985 I arranged for several newspaper article to be written to invite people with chronic fatigue to attend a meeting to discuss the problem. Since then I have been telling the well intended and humorous joke that half the people who phoned said that they would be too tired to come to the meeting, and half of those who came fell asleep while I was talking to them.
I suppose about thirty people attended some of those meetings.
My objective was to get other people to help me do the research, where some would study the neurology, and others the endocrinology etc, and then we would meet once per month to exchange information and ideas.
However, while some of them were prepared to make their homes available as venues, to save the cost of renting a hall, and while they were prepared to make cups of tea and scones etc, none of them wanted to do research.
I also invited academics and business leaders to attend with the same objective, but had the same response.
I came to the conclusion that it took several hours to organise such meetings, and several hours to set them up and give the talks, and that I would be better off spending that time doing the research on my own.
Some years later I saw an article in the local paper about another group for chronic fatigue patients, so I attended.
A group of about 20 people were crowded around a desk where a woman was giving her talk.
She was discussing the idea that a virus was causing the problem, and at that stage I thought that poor posture was the only cause, so I was tempted to argue.
However, there were several reasons why I didn't say anything.
The first was that I was pleased that someone else was trying to solve the problem re; two heads are better than one.
The second is that if anything happened to me, it would be good to know that someone else would still be trying to solve the problem.
The third is that I was involved in other activities and didn't wish to go back to chronic fatigue research.
The fourth is that I had already established a slow and patient way of doing my own research if and when I thought it was going to be useful.
I also didn't want to get into an argument and discourage anyone or see that group fold.
About ten years later I saw a newspaper article about another group, and attended. I did get into a couple of arguments in the early stages, but then came to the conclusion that there must be several different causes and types, and less reason to argue in the future.
The Posture Theory 11th edition
Published by the books
author M.A. Banfield, Unit 6, No.6 Hartman Ave, Modbury, South
Ph. +61 (08) 82635735, email:
Book Details:1005 page hardback:
300 illustrations: 180 references: more than 2,400 index entries.
Cost per book, A $64.50 within Australia, U.S. $57.90 to other
countries, and these costs include postage.
You may purchace the book by posting
a cheque or money order to the above address (overseas buyers
will need to send a bank cheque).
Various editions of
The Posture Theory are also available in many Australian and
overseas public and academic libraries.
ISBN 0 9585390 2 2
The eBook version
Printed versions of the book are no longer available, but the 12th edition can be purchased as an eBook from October 2012 for $9.99 here.
Links to other websites about posture
My research expeience is introduced here
My theory on posture and chronic fatigue here
See violations of my copyright here
Note that other authors are welcome to use my ideas as long as they are within the terms of standard copyright laws, and that they acknowledge the source. The fact that I have retrieved and organised clues from history in a manner that has not been done before is also my copyright.