A Shocking Scenario
We are a health conscious society especially here in the Bow Valley. We know a healthy and attractive body is the result of several factors. Nutrition, cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi are a few of the better-known and employed elements that positively change the human physique. Not to mention all our local outdoor activities. There is one aspect of physical change that often goes overlooked.
Take a look around you today and you may notice a shocking scenario – poor posture..
We all focus on diet and exercise, which are very important, but often we neglect our posture. Consider the person who has a good diet, exercises regularly, but has very poor posture. The image is one of sickness, not health. Poor posture can spoil an otherwise positive approach to the care of the body. Beyond just the appearance, posture can affect overall health.
At one time or another I suspect you have been told to “stand up straight…watch your posture”. Hopefully, you have taken that advice. You will look better and have more energy if you do. There is much more to posture than most people realize. Your posture is the position of your ligaments, muscles, spinal bones, and the condition they are in.
A large number of adults and kids are sitting, standing or walking incorrectly to the extent that they could be creating problems without knowing it. Without good posture, your overall health and total efficiency may be compromised. The long-term effect of poor posture can affect the bodily systems (such as immune, respiratory, digestion, circulation, elimination, muscles, joints, and ligaments), a person who has poor posture may often be tired or unable to work effectively or efficiently.
How you carry yourself when at school, work, relaxing, or playing can have big effects on your health. Did youknow that just fifteen minutes of reading or typing when using the wrong position exhausts the muscles of your neck, shoulders, and upper back? “Strain issues, such as neck strain, low back pain or carpel tunnel syndrome are the most common effects of bad posture,” says Dr. Kristine Fortuna, assistant professor for the department of orthopedic surgery at Temple University in Philadelphia. “These come from overuse of the muscle.”
What Does Poor Posture Look Like.
While most of us can point out someone else with bad posture, we may not realize it in ourselves. Even if we do, we may not do anything about it. “People are aware of easy arm and wrist stretches they can do at the desk. But they don’t pay so much attention to their head’s jetting forward and their rounded shoulders,” said Dr. Al Wu a Chiropractor in Virginia. “I see lots of people with cervical thoracic strain and it’s very much related to sustained poor posture at the computer.”
Poor posture can come from many sources, including incorrect sitting and standing habits, obesity, pregnancy, an improperly arranged work environment, not enough flexibility and weak muscles. Signs that you may have poor posture include:
- Slouching and hunching your shoulders over
- Holding your head and neck forward and/or down
- Arching your lower back too much
- Commonly carrying a heavy purse or backpack on one side of your body
- Sitting on a wallet in your back pant’s pocket
- Holding a phone receiver between your neck and shoulder
- Slumping forward while seated
Good Posture Affects Your Overall Health.
Why should good posture be achieved and maintained? There are several reasons to maintain good posture: Not only do you appear taller but many posture enthusiasts claim that correct posture can instantly make you look 10 pounds lighter. In fact, without proper posture you can never achieve the flattest stomach and smallest waist possible. Compare to someone who is slumped over in his or her chair working to someone sitting tall, the difference is obvious.
Several studies have been done on posture and self-esteem / confidence. The studies have found that those who sit, stand and walk tall exude greater confidence and self-esteem. They also received more promotions at work. They stand out among crowds or groups of people. They generally have greater concentration and mental ability, usually a result of less pain and fatigue from poor posture. Correct posture exudes a more confident, competent, vigorous, youthful appearance.
Correct posture allows you to be able to use your muscles more efficiently, because your bones and joints are in proper alignment. This will result in less pain, sprains, strains, and fatigue, as your body will require less energy to move around. It will prevent your spine from becoming fixed in an abnormal position. Which can lead to constricted blood vessels and nerves, over-stressed muscles, discs, joints and organs. Correct posture can lead to optimal organ and muscle function for maximum energy, biomechanics, endurance, and vigor.
How to Check Posture.
Stand with your back to a wall. If your shoulders, butt and back of head are all touching the wall without forcing, then your posture is correct. A better way is accomplished with a partner. Both should wear shorts and either no shirt or a sports bra. Now from the front you should see that they are looking straight ahead, ears are level, shoulders are level, hips are level, knees are level, toes are straight ahead or slightly turned out.
From the side their posture requires you to use a plum line to align their earlobe over the middle of their shoulder, over their hip joint, as well as over a point roughly an inch in front of the ankle joint. Draw that line mentally; then line their body up accordingly. Shoulders should be back and down, with the chin and chest slightly up, and the waist tucked slightly in. Any deviations equal postural distortions.
Adapt Good Posture Today.
While it will take time to adapt your body to naturally assume good posture assuming you have strayed from it, you can use these tips to improve your posture today. With a little perseverance, your posture will be back on track and, remember, modeling proper posture is essential to ensure that your kids have good posture, too!
Good Posture Tips While Sitting.
- Keep both feet flat on the floor (if your feet cannot reach the floor, adjust the chair or use a footrest)
- Align your back with the back of the chair
- Don’t slouch or lean forward
- Adjust the chair so your knees are even with your hips, or slightly higher, and your arms are at a 75-90 degree angle at the elbows
- Keep your shoulders straight
- Choose an ergonomic office chair with good back support
- Get up often and stretch
- Use a an elevated document holder to limit looking down while at the computer
Good Posture Tips While Standing.
- Keep your weight on the balls of your feet, not your heels
- Let your arms hang naturally by your side
- Keep feet about shoulder-width apart
- Don’t lock your knees
- Keep your head level and in line with your neck and spine, not pushed forward
- Keep your shoulders upright and stand up straight
How’s Your Sleeping Posture?
Your posture while you sleep can make a difference in your sleep quality and your health. “Sometimes poor habits are the cause of a poor night’s sleep. Other times, it is because people sleep in a posture that puts a strain on their bodies,” says Michael Wiles, dean of the chiropractic program at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, Minnesota. What’s the best sleeping posture? The two best sleeping positions are the fetal position, on your side with your knees drawn up with a body pillow between your knees and arms and a little pillow under your neck, or on your back with a slight pillow under your knees and neck. These positions support the natural curves of your spine. Sleeping on your stomach may be the worst sleep posture, as experts believe it can increase back pain by exerting pressure on joints in the spine, especially the neck and low back.
Posture is the window to the spine and good health. If posture is out of balance, then the spine is out of balance, putting unhealthy pressure upon your disc’s and nervous system. Activities as subtle as sleeping, standing or walking abnormally; too more obvious traumas like emotional stress, work, auto or sports injuries, and even the birth process itself can result in spinal imbalance. Your spine is the most important factor affecting your posture. In order to have the best possible posture (and health), your spine has to be in the best possible condition. If you have an extremely bad posture and a history of back injuries or backaches, it will be good to
visit your local chiropractor for a professional assessment. He/she can advise you on how to better take care of your back and improve your posture.
The fastest way you can improve your health and appearance is by paying attention to your posture. Straighten up and start enjoying the benefits that good posture provides–today.
~ By Dr. Jason Young