Posture – is it that important?

What can cause headaches, shoulder neck and back pain and can lead to degeneration of the spine? Poor Posture! Sitting or standing incorrectly has been implicated in many conditions from Arthritis, Headaches, general fatigue, increased risk of certain types of injuries and even poor internal organ function.

But what is good posture as opposed to bad posture? When patients try to correct their own posture they frequently push their shoulders back and stick their chest out. This position can usually be maintained for only a couple of minutes and leads to increased upper back pain if done too often. In my experience most people actually do not know how to correct their posture because they are so used to moving poorly they are unable to self correct. This leads to many problems, most of them muscle and joint pains, recurrent fatigue, poor concentration and less often more severe conditions such as poor gastrointestinal and organ function, degenerative joint disease of the spine and headaches to name a few.

What causes poor posture? Poor Posture is defined as a misalignment of your joints and muscles away from their most optimal or efficient position when sitting or standing. Therefore any sustained position that moves away from a joint’s neutral position requires more energy to maintain and will increase stress on the adjacent muscles, joints and ligaments.

Although this all sounds depressing it can be reversed in most people as long as no permanent changes (such as arthritis) have occurred. Even when arthritis is present improvements in postural alignment can significantly improve pain and function. Changing posture that you have had for many years will take time and effort to correct but can decrease pain, improve your energy levels and quality of life.

The following is a technique I use with my patients to correct sitting posture:

Sit on the front of your chair and slouch into the worst posture you can. Then Imagine a string is tied around your lower back and coming out of your belly button. While keeping your shoulders relaxed and head looking forward and imagine someone is pulling the string so your lower spine is being pulled forward. When you have a slight forward curve in your lower back your entire spine is in perfect posture. It is important to avoid adjusting your head and shoulders as they will naturally move into their most optimal position. Try and hold this posture for several minutes of every hour that you are sitting.

If you have any questions regarding you posture ask you local physiotherapist if you would benefit from Postural Correction – if may improve your health and wellbeing.

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