Posture is the position in which you hold your body when sitting standing or performing certain tasks. There are many different aspects to posture and there are reasons certain postures become a problem. Your body is designed to align in a certain way for optimal function. This means that there are ideal ways to stand or sit or be in certain positions that are the best position for joints and muscles to be pain free and function well. Good postures are those where there is natural alignment of the body – positions where the muscles can work well without causing pain. Good posture can make you look taller and often feel more confident.
Strength is a critical component of maintaining good upright postural alignment. Good posture is a sign of good strong core stability. The muscles that are key to good posture are abdominal, pelvic floor, back and buttock (gluteal) muscles.
There are several different types of postures that cause pain and lead to loss of function and ability to move well including:
- Forward head (neck) posture – or poked neck
- Excessive Lordosis of the lumbar spine – sway back
- Loss of lordosis of the lumbar spine – flattened back
- Kyphosis of the thoracic spine – hunched and stiff upper back
Spending long periods of time in one position will elongate and weaken muscles. One typical example of this is sitting slumped at the computer for hours. This can lead to a forward head posture, flattened lower back, and increased kyphosis of the upper back. So it is really worth paying attention to your posture, and taking time to strengthen the key muscle groups.
Here are a few tips that can help improve your posture and get you started:
Help your forward head posture, by performing the chin tuck
- Look straight ahead, place two fingers on your chin, slightly tuck your chin and move your head back. Hold for three to five seconds and then release.
Strengthen your back, buttocks and abdomen with a few daily strengthening exercises targeting those areas specifically.
- Stand up and lift your sternum or the front of your chest – keep your shoulders relaxed. Think of having a light shine from your chest forward and this will naturally lift the sternum.
- Pretend you are walking like a model – – upright and relaxed – keep your head high and shoulders relaxed as you walk smoothly down the catwalk!
- Pretend you have a wire threaded through your spine and it is lifting lengthwise up through your spine and the top of your head as you walk, sit, or stand. Keep your shoulders relaxed and breath well
Move often and avoid being in just one position for hours at a time. Staying in one position (such as sitting watching the TV or at the computer) for several hours will contribute to poor posture.
A good motto is ‘the best posture is the next posture’