Posture is the position in which you hold your body while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie so as to place the least strain on muscles and ligaments while you are moving or performing weight-bearing activities.
Good posture means that your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle are in alignment from the side. In a standing position, good posture involves:
- Chin parallel to the floor.
- Shoulders back and even.
- Spine in a neutral position, with no excessive arching of your back.
- Arms hanging loosely at your sides.
- Core muscles gently engaged.
- Knees even and pointing forward.
- Body weight evenly distributed over both of your feet.
In a seated position, your chin should be parallel to the floor, with your shoulders, hips and knees even, and your knees and feet pointing forward.
Benefits of Good Posture
Good posture helps you in the following ways:
- Keeps bones and joints in the correct position (alignment) so that muscles are being used properly.
- Helps cut down on the wear and tear of joint surfaces (such as the knee) to help prevent the onset of arthritis.
- Decreases the strain on the ligaments in the spine.
- Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions.
- Reduce fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, which allows the body to use less energy.
- Prevents backache and muscular pain
Effects of Poor Posture
Unfortunately, good posture can be a challenge to maintain. Humans weren’t designed to sit in chairs or hold prolonged postures. We are designed to move! There are a number of factors responsible for poor posture; the most common factors that lead to poor posture include a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, stress, weak or tightened muscles, and pregnancy.
Poor posture can affect your body from head to toe; common conditions that can arise due to poor posture include:
- Jaw pain
- Neck and back pain
- Hip, knee and foot pain
- Shoulder pain
- Fatigue and breathing issues
Exercising to Improve Posture
You can improve your posture by performing certain core strength and flexibility exercises, particularly for your chest and hip muscles. It’s important to be conscious of your posture while you exercise, which may mean checking your position in the mirror or having a qualified physiotherapist monitor your exercise program. The good news is that once you start increasing your core strength and overall flexibility, you’ll start to notice improvements in your posture in a few short weeks.
Everyday Tips to Improve Posture
In addition to increasing your core strength and flexibility through exercise, there are numerous things you can do every day to improve your posture, including:
- Being mindful of your posture during the day, especially when sitting at your desk. Try things like using external reminders to check your posture such as whenever a phone rings, or an email notification comes up.
- Having an ergonomically friendly workstation. A sit to stand desk can make posture changes easier and change the prolonged loads your body experiences when you have only one predominant position like sitting.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Get regular cardiovascular and resistance exercise to keep your muscles supple, your joints supported and your bones strong.
- Get some help from the professionals when you can: Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy make a great combination approach to strengthening weak muscles and lengthening short muscles.
Remember, gravity is always working against you so frequently changing postures is key to prevent muscle fatigue or even more permanent changes to your spine. The BEST posture if often the NEXT posture! Your goal is to spend more time in an optimal position that a dysfunctional one, but even the perfect posture will be tiring over time so wriggle, shift, get up and walk around, stretch, and move every 30 minutes if you can.
If you’re looking to improve your posture, you may benefit from physiotherapy, which will involve an individualized treatment plan that is tailored specifically to your postural issues. You will work with your physiotherapist to set goals and track your progress as you work through your treatment plan.
Undergoing a physiotherapy assessment is one of the best ways to ensure you have good posture. After the assessment, our physiotherapists will create a program that is specific to your needs, and set you on the right path toward optimal posture. Massage Therapy is also a key team member in maintaining good posture and healthy tissues. They are experts in finding those shortened or tight bands of muscle that aren’t letting you move well. A proper course of treatment can really make your muscles more limber and ready for strength training, and keep a lot of muscle pain to at bay!
1. Kumar, B. Poor posture and its causes. Int Journal of Physical Education and Health. 2016; 3(1): 177-178.
2.Maxwell Therapy LLC
Chiropractic & Physiotherapy Health Centre