The why, what, and how of good posture
- Posted on: Oct 19 2022
Do you ever find yourself slouching while working on the computer? Or do you find yourself looking down at your phone for prolonged periods throughout the day? Or maybe when you stand do you like to lean onto a wall or put more weight on one foot? These are all examples of improper postures, even if they feel more comfortable than sitting or standing straight up. There are various consequences of “bad posture” including but not limited to neck pain, low back pain, headaches, loss of flexibility, decrease balance, and increase risk of injury.
So, what is good posture? Well for example while sitting, it is important to keep your back in a neutral alignment avoiding any rounding or slouching. Both feet should be flat on the floor with your knees and hips positioned in a 90 degrees angle. It is also important to keep whatever you may be looking at, such as your computer, TV, or phone, at eye level so your neck is in a neutral position – limiting excessive looking down or up. For standing, some of the same principles apply. Your feet should be flat on the floor with equal weight through each foot and your shoulders back (not rounded). Additionally, your core muscle should be tightened, and your neck should be in a neutral position – limiting excessive looking down or up.
It is okay if this felt strange when you first try it; just like anything maintaining a good posture takes practice especially if our muscles are used to other positions. It is key to note that in order to maintain good posture for prolonged periods, our postural muscle need to be strong! Postural muscle fatigue can lead to us revertingbackto our improper postures. Muscles in our neck, upper back, low back, abdomen/core, and pelvis all attribute to our upright posture. Weakness in any of these muscles may lend to our tendency to sit or stand incorrectly, even if it is subconsciously.
Below are just a few examples of exercises that we prescribe to help improve your postural strength and endurance:
Chin tucks: starting in a seated or supine (lying on your back) position; draw your head straight back into the pillow without tilting your head up or down; head should stay in a neutral position
Prone Ts: starting with your chest supported on a ball or lying on your stomach, position your arms in a T position then raise your arms squeezing your shoulder blades together. Make sure not to shrug your shoulders up.
Posterior pelvic tilt: started lying on your back with your knees bent, flatten the arch into the table drawing your belly button down. Make sure not to push through your heels or your shoulders, all the motion should come from your pelvis.
If you are experiencing pain, muscle tightness, or any adverse symptoms from incorrect posture, physical therapy may be able to help you. In physical therapy, a physical therapist will listen to your symptoms, examine your posture, test your flexibility, and assess your muscle strength in order to create a unique treatment and exercise program to help you!
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