Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or laying down. Good posture helps to minimise the amount of strain imposed on our muscles, joints and ligaments whilst performing our daily activities.
If you want an example of good posture, just look at a young child – their back shows a graceful ‘S’ curve and their movements are easy and effortless. As we get older, bad habits such as slouching and inactivity cause muscle fatigue and tension that ultimately lead to poor posture. The complications of poor posture include back pain, spinal dysfunction, joint degeneration, rounded shoulders and a potbelly.
Living in the 21st Century means that we sit for far longer than ever before in history. We sit to work, to play and then, when we are tired, we slouch on the sofa. This slouching encourages our low back to take exactly the opposite to ideal shape. Our lifestyles also encourage us to be physically passive. Our work involves smaller and smaller movements performed under tension (compare the physicality of the skills required to use a manual typewriter with those for a computer keyboard!)
Sitting is in itself tough on the back but slouching is one of the most constant and damaging strains on our spines in modern life. If we slouch on a regular basis the slouch will feel ‘normal’ to us but human nature is to interpret that feeling as if it is correct.
Poor posture interferes with a number of the body’s postural mechanisms including:
Most people when asked to stand with good posture immediately stand tall, arching their spine and pulling their shoulders back. It looks uncomfortable and is a far cry from a healthy standing posture. Keep it simple – try using PUPPET POSTURE !
Puppet posture is a term I have used to simplify the process of assuming correct posture. It works especially well with children as they can identify easily.
Imagine that you are a puppet (well try to at least!) with a string coming out of the top of your head. Gently lift the imaginary string upwards to straighten your spine. Your arms and shoulders will assume the best posture they can for your current spinal function. Watch yourself in the mirror to visualise what you are achieving. Practice regularly, it gets easier as your spine and muscles gain strength.
You can improve your posture and spinal health by making a few lifestyle adjustments. See your Physiotherapist for further information and advice.