You probably hear fairly often that posture is one of the key components to great health. When we see bad posture, we know that it’s a result of poor habits that have been repeated for years and years. However, what most of us see barely scratches the surface of the real issue and understand how essential good posture is to the body.
WHY IS GOOD POSTURE IMPORTANT?
Excellent posture allows us to walk, stand, sit, and lie in ways that keep our supporting muscles and ligaments at rest and not under so much strain while moving or bearing weight. Good posture does the following:
- Assists in keeping bones and joints in proper alignment so muscles are used correctly, minimizing the unnatural and early wearing of joints that might result in debilitating arthritis or joint pain.
- It can greatly reduce the stress that is put on ligaments that hold the spinal joints together, exponentially reducing the chance of injury.
- Allows your muscles to operate with higher efficiency, which lets you burn less energy and help prevent muscle fatigue.
- Helps to avoid muscle strain, overworking muscles, and back and muscular pain.
To achieve correct posture, it’s important to have adequate flexibility and strength, a normal range of motion in all joint including the spine, also nominally efficient postural muscles balanced on both sides of the spine. You have to realize what your posture is like at work and at home and optimize and correct the elements that are wrong.
THE COST OF POOR POSTURE
Bad posture has been known to lead to excess strain on the muscles we use to sit and stand, and have even caused them to relax when held in repeated positions over long periods of time. You normally see this with people who bend at the waist often during their job. Unfortunately, these muscles are far more prone to back pain and discomfort and can even cause the joints to wear down prematurely as well.
There can be quite a few factors that contribute to bad posture. Common culprits are obesity, stress, weak muscles, unusually tight muscles, pregnancy, and as you may have guessed, high-heels. In addition to these factors, incorrect work posture, unhealthy or off balance sitting and standing habits, poor work environment, and low flexibility can all exacerbate and contribute to poor posture.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO CORRECT POSTURE?
Yes and no. It’s possible to correct and fix postural problems that haven’t gotten too far out of control. But the effects of poor posture can be permanent and debilitating. But you must remember that long-standing problems will take quite a bit longer to correct than the shorter-lived ones. The joints will have adapted to the poor habits and it will take some time to address and correct these problems.
Thinking about your posture constantly; when standing, walking, or sitting, will help correct your posture. If you consciously think often about it, eventually it will become a subconscious thing and that’s when it will really make a difference. Over time, and with plenty of conscious practice, your sitting, standing, and lying down will be new and refreshing to your muscles and your joints. This is a healthy and essential key to becoming a healthier you.
Your chiropractic doctor will be of great help in correcting your posture. He or she may recommend certain stretches or exercises that will help to strengthen your muscles and joints. They can also assist with determining what positions will help you sit, stand, and lie down more properly.
HOW TO SIT PROPERLY
- Keep both feet on the floor or a footrest if they don’t reach.
- Do NOT cross your legs. Your ankles need to be in front of the knees.
- There should be a small gap between the backs of your knees and your chair.
- Your knees should be at the same (or slightly lower) height as your hips.
- Your lower and mid-back should be supported by your office chair.
- Shoulders should be relaxed and forearms level with the ground.
- Try not to maintain one position for too long.
HOW TO STAND PROPERLY
- Keep your weight mostly on the balls of your feet.
- Slightly bend your knees.
- Feet should be shoulder-width apart.
- Arms should hang naturally down your sides.
- Shoulders should be pulled backward while standing tall.
- Keep your stomach tight.
- Weight should shift from toes to heels if you must stand for a long period of time.