With our busy lifestyle we are often so intent on getting the job done, or getting from here to there as quickly as possible, that we forget about keeping a good posture. Our posture is the way we hold our body upright against gravity and indicates to the world whether we are confident, alert and healthy.
Why maintain a good posture?
Sitting and standing with good posture places the least strain on our muscles and ligaments and keeps the different parts of the body balanced and supported. Our back has a natural curve and when the curve is resting or neutral, the muscles are being used properly and therefore experience the least strain. We can have good (or bad) posture when we are standing, sitting or lying down.
What results from bad posture?
Everyday activities such as sitting in an office chair at a computer, driving, standing all day or even sleeping incorrectly can stress our body. Poor posture can cause back, neck and other muscular pain, headaches, joint degeneration, rounded shoulders, a potbelly and increase the risk of sporting and other muscular injuries. This may lead to lower self-esteem and decreased quality of life. Unfortunately we are often unlikely to notice our hunched shoulders until we notice the symptoms of bad posture, such as back pain.
How to correct bad posture?
The good news is that in many cases it is really quite easy to change, regardless of how long we have been sitting, standing or lying incorrectly. A physiotherapist can advise on some simple adjustments to improve posture, making us feel and look better and reducing the risk of injury. In some cases, it might feel a little uncomfortable or strange at first, but our muscles will adapt to their new positions and our posture will begin to correct itself. Simple things like wearing supportive footwear and doing regular exercise can help. Sitting correctly when driving or at a desk will also prevent back pain and improve posture. If you are experiencing pain in a position, get up and move around. Every hour, take a break for a couple of minutes and have a stretch or a walk. Ergonomic chairs or props such as a lumbar support can be used at the office. Get advice on how to set up your work place so that it is ergonomically correct, so that it fits around you – instead of you fitting around it. An ergonomic work space will reduce the risk of muscular injury. Pilates is also well known for improving core and back strength, promoting good posture and helping to promote good health and prevent injury. Regular low impact exercise such as walking, swimming or bicycling will also keep the body conditioned and strong. Good posture combined with a healthy lifestyle means that our body is working effectively, with minimal strain on the muscles and ligaments. It means that we should sleep well, are able to exercise and think clearly without the interruption of muscular pain or headache. It means that we look and feel good and can get on with our busy lives.
- Keeping your bones and joints in correct alignment assists your muscles in working properly.
- Good posture decreases stress on your spine and neck, helping to avoid headaches, rounded shoulders and bad backs.
- Good posture prevents fatigue and injury.
- Good posture tells others we are confident, alert and healthy.
If you are suffering from back pain or other injury or just need advice to correct your posture, seek a health professional for advice. Health professionals such as physiotherapists are trained to assess and advise on posture and ergonomics. They will be able to treat the injury, identify how it occurred and advise on how to correct the problem. Contact your local physiotherapist or other health professional today.