What is Good Posture?
Have you ever caught yourself slouching while scrolling through your text messages, working at your desk or even during a long drive? If so, you've likely felt aches and discomfort settle in to your back and shoulders later. This is your body warning you to straighten up - quite literally.
Standing or sitting up straight not only helps us look our best, it's also an important step we can take to maintain our long-term health. Whether your body is in motion or at rest, ensuring you hold your body correctly can prevent injuries, lower back pain and other health issues.
There are two types of posture:
- Static posture is defined by how you hold yourself when you're resting, such as when you are sleeping, sitting or standing.
- Dynamic posture is defined by how you carry yourself while you're moving, such as when you are walking, running or bending over to pick up an item.
It's important to maintain good static and dynamic posture, and how your spine is positioned holds the secret to effective posture. Your spine has three natural curves - at your neck, mid-back and lower back. When your posture is correct, each of these curves are maintained, but not increased. This keeps you from putting undue stress on your spine, which can lead to strained muscles, joints and bones needed to hold your backbone in place.
Good posture supports healthy structures, joints, muscles and connective tissues and encourages optimal range of motion. Movement should not be restricted as your neck and spine are straight, your shoulders are level over your hips and your pelvis is relatively level. Your knees are also neutral, neither splayed nor collapsing in.
If you'd like to improv your posture and learn how physiotherapy can help, our Orleans physiotherapists have some tips to share.
1. Understand why slouching is a bad habit.
You've probably heard you should stop slouching from everyone - including your mom and your physiotherapist. While it can be an insidious habit to quit, it's an important one to break since if you allow your neck, shoulders and upper back to keep slouching, they may become stuck in these positions.
This is because bones change structure and tissues lengthen to a point where they adapt to the unnatural position. In addition, your core muscles (which help protect your spine) do not get exercised when you hunch over, which can put unnatural pressure on your hips, discs and other joints. This can lead to long-term damage.
However, there is hope. You can begin to correct your slouching habit today by visualizing yourself keeping your spine tall and chest lifted if you start to feel your shoulders rounding forward. While you sit, try keeping your spine long and shoulders pulled back to help the invertabrae in your spine properly align. You'll reduce your risk of injury and there will be less strain on your back.
2. Get moving.
Did you know that most people spend an average of 10 hours a day sitting. Even with good posture, sitting for that long while dealing with the stresses a modern workday brings is a recipe for tension and pain. That's why we recommend setting yourself a reminder on your computer or phone to spend a few minutes walking or stretching every half hour.
Making sure to move regularly will help blood to circulate better and help much-needed oxygen and nutrients to muscles, which can help improve mobility and sustain strength in the parts of your body that do the most work when it comes to maintaining posture.
3. Notice your posture.
One of the first steps to fixing bad posture is noting when you tend to slip into a slouch.
Whether that's while you're watching TV, sitting at your desk or walking, monitoring your posture and taking small actions to form a habit of maintaining good posture will help to banish those aches.
To test your posture, stand against a wall with the back of your head touching the wall. Place your heels 6 inches out from the wall.
Both of your shoulder blades and your buttocks should be touching the wall. Have someone measure the space between your neck and the wall. Also, measure the distance between the small of your back and the wall. Both of these distances should be less than 2 inches. If the measurement is greater than 2 inches, you probably have poor posture and a curved spine.
Keep in mind that you won't always be perfect - that's okay! Keep practicing and checking in.
4. Create an ergonomic workspace.
By ensuring your desk and office space are ergonomically sound, you'll encourage proper posture, help ease aches and pains due to sitting or standing, and optimize your comfor twhile working.
Your chair should support your spine's natural curves as you sit in a neutral, upright and be the right height so your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your feet should be flat on the floor (or a foot rest). Keep your monitor at a comfortable arm's length away, within your line of sight directly in front of you.
5. Do stretches and exercises.
If you catch yourself hunching, try stretching so you can get back to being limber and pain-free. Interlace your fingers behind your head and rest them on the base of your skull. As your arch your upper back, pull your elbows backward and broaden your chest. Look at the ceiling.
You can also relieve tension in your neck using a small massage or tennis ball. While leaning forward slightly, rest the ball between a solid surface (like a door jamb) and the spot below your shoulder and above your collarbone.
Physical Therapy at MotionWorks Physiotherapy in Orleans
Have you been feeling the effects of bad posture? Perhaps you're wondering if your posture could improve, and how to go about it. At our Orleans physiotherapy center, our team specializes in the assessment and restoration of movement and dysfunction, in addition to prevention of injury and disease.
Orthopedic physiotherapy involves the assessment, management and treatment of injuries and disorders of the skeletal system, in addition to the associated muscles, joints and ligaments. Our Orleans physiotherapists focus on promoting health and preventing injury and disease, as well as reducing and managing pain.
We'll work with you to develop a custom treatment plan to assist you in achieving your goals, including improving posture.