Head Up and Shoulders Back!
Remember your mom telling you as a child to stand up straight? Stop slouching? We all realized that poor posture is a result of bad habits that occurred throughout years and years of improper ways of sitting, standing and lying . Let’s take a look at some identifying factors of posture.
So, what is posture?
According to the American Chiropractic Association, posture can be defined as the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down. Posture is the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity using skeletal support from balance.
Typically, we do not consciously maintain normal posture. Instead, certain muscles do it for us, and we don’t even have to think about it. The muscles of the hamstrings and back, are important in maintaining posture. While the ligaments help to hold the skeleton together, these postural muscles, when functioning properly, prevent the forces of gravity from pushing us over forward. Postural muscles also maintain our posture and balance during movement.
Why is posture important?
Posture allows us stand, walk, sit, and lie in positions that place the least strain on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement and weight-bearing activities. It keeps bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in degenerative arthritis and joint pain. Posture lessens the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together. This minimizes the likelihood of injury.Posture also allows muscles to work more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy and, therefore, preventing muscle fatigue. This helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and even back and muscular pain.
To maintain proper posture, you need to have a balance in muscle flexibility and strength and normal joint motion in the spine and other body regions. In addition, you must recognize your postural habits at home and in the workplace and work to correct them, if necessary.
Years of results from poor posture
Poor posture can lead to excessive strain on our postural muscles and may even cause them to relax, when held in certain positions for long periods of time. For example, you can typically see this in people who bend forward at the waist for a prolonged time in the workplace. Their postural muscles are more prone to injury and back pain.
Several factors contribute to poor posture. The most common: stress, obesity, pregnancy, weak postural muscles, abnormally tight muscles, and high-heeled shoes. In addition, decreased flexibility, a poor work environment, incorrect working posture, and unhealthy sitting and standing habits can also contribute to poor body positioning.
How do I correct my posture?
Chronic postural problems will typically take longer to address than short-lived ones, as often the joints have adapted to your long-standing poor posture. Conscious awareness of your own posture and knowing what posture is correct will help you consciously correct yourself. With much practice, the correct posture for standing, sitting, and lying down will gradually replace your old posture. This, in turn, will help you move toward a better and healthier body position.
InMotion Health and Wellness can assist you with proper posture through chiropractic, ART, massage therapy, and posture tape to strengthen your core postural muscles. We can also assist you with choosing proper postures during your activities, helping reduce your risk of injury.
How do I sit properly?
- Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest, if they don’t reach the floor.
- Don’t cross your legs. Your ankles should be in front of your knees.
- Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.
- Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips.
- Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid-back or use a back support.
- Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground.
- Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.
How do I stand properly?
- Keep your knees slightly bent.
- Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of the body.
- Stand straight and tall with your shoulders pulled backward.
- Tuck your stomach in.
- Keep your head level-your earlobes should be in line with your shoulders. Do not push your head forward, backward, or to the side.
- Shift your weight from your toes to your heels, or one foot to the other, if you have to stand for a long time.
What is the proper lying position?
- Find the mattress that is right for you. While a firm mattress is generally recommended, some people find that softer mattresses reduce their back pain. Your comfort is important.
- Sleep with a pillow. Special pillows are available to help with postural problems resulting from a poor sleeping position.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
- Sleeping on your side or back is more often helpful for back pain. If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs. If you sleep on your back, keep a pillow under your knees.