Posture is a concept that is so simple, yet so important. It can affect our bones, muscles and ligaments over time at our various joints, causing pain if we do not observe “good posture”. Let’s first talk about what some abnormal postures are:
- Sway back – This posture is characterized by the head and upper back being forward. The chest in sunken in and the shoulder blades are positioned forward. The upper abdominal muscles are tight.
- Lordotic posture – This posture is characterized by an excessive curve in the lumbar spine. There is also an increased anterior tilt of the pelvis. The stomach and head are positioned forward. This posture is often seen in truck drivers and pregnant women.
- Flat back posture – This posture is characterized by an absence of the natural curves in the back. The pelvis is tucked. This posture can be caused by degenerative disc disease (DDD) and compression fractures. Also, this posture can cause back and leg pain.
- Kyphotic – Kyphotic posture is characterized by rounded shoulders, a hyperextended c-spine, an excessive l-spine curve, and the appearance of the chest being “caved in”. This type of posture is caused by muscle weakness, degenerative changes in the body and compression fractures. This posture is commonly seen in the elderly, heavy chested women, those who are overweight/obese, and tall people.
Poor posture can have many negative effects on one’s health and cause things like back and neck pain. So, one should take heed to practice the correct posture.
One can practice good sitting posture by:
- Keeping the feet flat
- Keeping the knees bent at 90-degrees and level with the hips
- Keep the hips positioned at a 90-degree angle
- Keeping the chin parallel to the ground,
- Keeping the shoulders relaxed.
- Keeping the earlobes lined up with the shoulders; they should not be in front of the shoulders.
Also, where possible, an ergonomic chair should be used as these chairs are designed to support the curves in the back and promote good posture.
Good standing posture is when:
- The feet are kept flat, and the body weight is distributed evenly.
- The knees are softened
- The abdominals are tucked in
- Shoulder blades and kept back and down. The chin is kept parallel to the ground.
As aforementioned, there are many negative effects of poor posture. Some of the most common negative effects of poor posture include:
- Poor balance
- Heart arrhythmia
- Breathing issues
- Incontinence (stress incontinence)
- Slowed digestion
There are also many benefits to having good posture. The main benefits of good posture are:
- Less stress on the ligaments that hold the spine together.
- Helps bones and joints stay in the correct alignment. It also puts less strain on the muscles as they are used correctly when one is in the correct alignment. The correct use of the muscles reduces wear and tear and possibly prevents osteoarthritis and joint pain.
- Prevents muscle strain and pain. Eases the burden on the back.
- Encourages the muscles to work more efficiently. This allows the body to use less energy which results in less muscle fatigue.
These are reasons why good posture is so important. There are some factors, however, that can affect one’s ability to practice good posture. Some of the most common factors that affect posture are:
- Muscles strength
- Balance of the muscles on both sides of the spine
- Wearing high heeled shoes
These are some tips to help you improve your posture:
- Avoid sitting with your legs crossed. Keep them both flat on the ground an equal distance apart.
- Avoid sitting for long-periods in the same position. Take moments break at every 30 minutes. If you must, set a reminder in your phone or wear a fitness tracker to remind you.
- Sit in an ergonomic chair. These chairs are designed to support the curves in your spine. They are good if you have a primarily sitting job, like an office job.
- Use a posture corrector. These are garments you wear that give subtle cues for you to correct your posture. They are practically seamless and undetectable under clothing.
- Think “tall”. Let your chest be high and keep your chin parallel to the ground. Imagine you have a string at the top of your head that is being pulled up towards the ceiling.
Bear these points in mind as you go throughout your day so you can have a healthier and happier (less painful) future.