What is posture?
Posture is the body’s position and alignment against the force of gravity. When we are lying, sitting and standing, gravity is exerting a force on our joints, ligaments and muscles. Good posture occurs when the force of gravity is distributed evenly throughout the body so no single structure is overstressed.
Why is good posture important?
- Reduces stress on ligaments and muscles
- Keeps your spine and other bones and joints in correct alignment
- Decreases the wear and tear on joint surfaces
- Prevents overuse injuries
- Prevents back, neck and muscle pain
- Prevents fatigue and unnecessary energy expenditure because muscle are used more efficiently
What is required for good posture?
1) Back: A healthy back has 3 natural curves. The first is a slight forward curve in the neck, the second is a slight backward curve in the upper back and the third is a slight forward curve in the low back. These 3 curves need to be kept in balanced alignment to maintain good posture.
2) Muscles: Muscles that are both flexible and strong are important for good posture. When your core, leg and hip muscles are inflexible and weak, they are unable to support your back’s natural curves.
3) Joints: During movement, your ankle, knee and hip joints balance your back’s natural curves. This allows you to maintain a good posture in any position.
What does good posture look like?
Standing: Your body should be in straight vertical alignment. From the side, you should see the three natural curves of the back as well as a vertical imaginary line through the ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle. From the back, the head and spine should be straight, not curved to either side. From the front, the shoulders knee and hips should be equal heights and the head should be straight not turned or titled.
Sitting: Your spine and head should be upright, the three natural curves of the back are maintained.
What causes poor posture?
Often poor posture is a result of an accident or fall that causes injury. But, poor posture also develops from bad habits and environmental factors. That means that you have control over your posture.
Most often, poor posture is the result of a combination of several factors that include: fracture or other injury, weak muscles and muscular imbalance, boney deformity such as a leg length difference, careless sitting, standing and sleeping habits, emotional and physical tension which can manifest as muscles being held tight, clenched teeth and raised shoulders, obesity, pregnancy, improper footwear, work stress (e.g. prolonged periods of sitting or standing, poorly designed work stations), sleeping with poor support from bed and/or pillow, and negative self image.
How can you improve your posture?
Check out this video about maintaining proper posture at work.
How can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapy can be used to improve poor posture and relieve the associated pain. Through a postural assessment, a physiotherapist can establish the causal factors contributing to poor posture and develop a treatment plan to address these issues. Persistent poor posture over the years can cause prolonged pain, discomfort, and increased risk for injury. Early intervention is essential. If you need help to correct your posture, contact Kinetic Physiotherapy via phone 905-637-1414 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.