“STAND UP STRAIGHT!”, “Don’t slouch”… I’m sure we have all heard these words multiple times in our lives… Regardless of who it came from, these words were engraved into our heads at a very young age. We always knew that slouching was bad, but many of us never looked into WHY. So, what is good posture anyway and why is it so important?
What is posture?
Posture is the position you hold your body while you are either standing or sitting. There are two types:
- Dynamic posture (standing): is how you hold yourself when you are moving, like when you are walking, running, or bending over to pick up something.
- Static posture (sitting): is how you hold yourself when you are not moving, like when you are sitting, standing, or sleeping.
Each one holds equal importance in terms of the health of your spine. The key to having good posture all has to do with the position of your spine. Simply put, your head should be above your shoulders, and the top of your shoulders should be in line with your hips.
Why is posture important?
Poor posture can cause back or neck pain, headaches, trouble breathing, or trouble walking.
- Helps with airflow while sleeping. Anterior head posture causes constriction in the throat which can cause poor breathing during sleep. Signs of poor airflow and oxygen intake include snoring, headache upon waking, and grogginess upon waking. Focusing on your posture can help prevent these issues and may be a way to prevent the development of sleep apnea.
- Poor oxygen flow due to poor posture can change the environment in our mouth, nose, and respiratory system. This can lead to an altered environment that allows different bacteria to grow.
- Poor head posture can cause neck and upper back pain because the muscles are spasming trying to support the malposition of the head and neck. For every inch that your head moves forward, ten pounds of tension pressure are added to your spinal cord. This causes neurological tension and strain on your body. When your nervous system is stressed, everything is affected and stressed because the nervous system controls everything.
- One study found that forward head carriage was related to foot pain, like plantar fasciitis. Because everything is connected in the body, when our neck, back, and shoulder muscles are strained, it also strains other muscles and tissues in the body.
What causes poor posture:
- Sedentary lifestyle is one of the main contributors to poor posture. Sitting at work without breaks, computer work, zoom university, and lack of ergonomics are all things to think about when it comes to our posture.
- Dehydration: leads to tight hip flexor muscles (iliopsoas) which can cause postural problems in the pelvis and low back. This can cause anterior pelvic tilt, tight low back, and hip or knee misalignments.
- Emotional Effects on Posture – many emotions can lead to less than optimal posture. A lack of confidence, anxiety, and depression can all contribute to altered muscular function which can lead to poor posture.
- Bodily and muscular fatigue: fatigue can be from a lot of things like stressful lifestyle, poor adrenal function, chronic illness, autoimmune conditions, repetitive movements, etc. When you are stressed, this leads to poorer ligament tone, muscle function, and neurological control of your body. This leads to an exhaustive state that can contribute to poor posture.
Ways to help improve posture:
- Ergonomic work set up – Consulting with your chiropractor or another ergonomic specialist is very helpful in making sure that your workspace is contributing to your health as much as possible.
- Chiropractic care – Chiropractic care improves nervous system function, which is in control of the posture receptors in our body (called mechanoreceptors). Getting chiropractic care is essential to resetting these posture receptors and getting them to function properly. Chiropractic also helps with brain and motor function, which is directly related to posture.
- Drink water – Drinking water and staying hydrated with proper electrolytes is important for muscle function. A dehydrated grape is a raisin and a dehydrated person is someone with poor posture. Getting the amount of water and electrolytes your body needs is important to standing up tall.
- Exercises – Exercises that open the chest, strengthen the back, and improve the core muscle tone are all very important for having good posture in our modern era.
- Avoid “Text Neck” – looking down at a screen all day can have bad effects on your posture and even cause skeletal bony changes. There are increased rates of bone growth at the base of some younger people’s skulls due to constant staring down at a phone screen.
- Practicing emotional self care – Improving our emotional health through counseling, coaching, and positive thinking skills can greatly contribute to not only our postural health, but our health in general. The mind-body connection is a strong one and must be lovingly cared for.