What is posture?
When it comes to posture, good posture is essential to establishing good health.
The term posture refers to how you position or hold your body in various stances. There are two types of posture: static posture and dynamic posture. Static posture refers to how you are positioned when you are not moving, such as sleeping, standing, or sitting. Dynamic posture refers to how you are positioned when you are moving, i.e. when you are walking, running, or bending over.
Like anything, posture is formed through habit over the course of many years. Good posture is formed by positioning the body to place the least amount of strain and stress on the spine, muscles, and ligaments.
Bad posture is the result of positioning the body in a way that adds unnecessary stress on the body, resulting in numerous health problems.
Just how important is “good posture”?
I always tell my patients; the benefits of good posture go far beyond just looking good and standing / sitting tall. Good posture helps you feel good. The best and easiest way to keep your spine healthy is to establish good posture. And though it can take time and practice, properly aligning your body can help prevent chronic back and neck pain, migraines, muscle weakness, and more.
The Side Effects of Poor Posture
In today’s technologically centralized world, the use of technology has begun to impact our physical bodies. This is not surprising, given that the average human being spends approximately three hours on their phone each day. The term “tech neck” refers to the strain placed on your muscles from looking down at devices such as cell phones, tablets, and computers. Your neck (also known as your cervical spine) is quite flexible, making it more susceptible to damage.
Looking down at your device can put up to 60 lbs of pressure on your neck, resulting in neck tension and shoulder and upper back discomfort. This can lead to traction or compression of the spinal nerve roots with the result being pain, weakness, or numbness.
Poor posture has been linked to creating tension and stress in the muscular and neurological systems. In addition, due to positioning, having one’s head protruding or sticking forward has been found to be a contributing factor to reoccurring tension headaches and migraines.
Back, Shoulder, and Neck pain
Your posture significantly impacts your back, shoulder, and neck. Improper posture puts strain and tension on these parts of your body, causing pains and aches.
Our posture is not just comprised of how our muscles hold our body. A large part of our posture is attributed to our spinal health, and poor posture can alter your natural spinal curvature. Naturally, our spines have multiple spinal curvatures that create an s-like shape. These curvatures help us distribute strain and balance throughout the spine. Poor posture slowly changes these curvatures, leading to various health problems, such as nerve constriction, blood vessel constriction, digestion problems, pain, and other health issues.
How to Improve Your Posture
There are many techniques you can incorporate into your day-to-day routine to improve your posture. You don’t need expensive equipment and can work on your posture from home or work.
Tips for Improving Your Posture While Standing
While standing, focus on contracting your abdominal muscles to help straighten and support your back (this will help strengthen and stretch your upper back, core, and chest muscles).
And to improve the muscle strength in your core region, try doing a “plank” or modified plank position and hold for 30 seconds at a time.
Tips for Improving Your Posture While Sitting
If you spend a lot of time sitting down, it helps to take breaks every hour to get up, stretch, and walk around. Scheduling time to move through the day can also reduce tension and help maintain or establish good posture. A simple trick I tell my patients is to use an inexpensive kitchen timer, set to 30 minutes; when the alarm goes off, get up and stretch.
If you are seated in a chair for long periods of time, try straightening your back parallel to the chair and avoid hunching or slouching. Again, following good ergonomic practices, certainly helps if you’re sitting for long periods of time and ensuring that your chair is positioned correctly so you can do your work without hunching forward. Using an ergonomic chair can be very beneficial. A sit / stand desk is also a great idea.
While in your car, you can support good posture habits by ensuring your seat is upright and that your steering wheel is at the correct height for your body.
Other Tips for Improving Posture
Minimizing excessive technology use can positively impact your posture. For example, introducing regular extracurricular activities, such as daily nature walks or jogs, can help decrease the amount of time spent on a cellphone, laptop, or tablet while increasing the benefits of outdoor activity.
Keeping your spine healthy does not come by chance, rather it is a process that comes by habit and repetition; and working on a daily basis is essential to build spine health. It is important to remember that a strong spine is a healthy spine, one that can resist injury and trauma.” – Dr. Joseph Kandel
If you have any questions about Posture or Spinal Health, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact the Neurology Office for more help.
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