We often hear that good posture is essential for good health. But lately it seems as if bad posture is becoming more of the norm. I’m starting to see more and more teenagers and twenty-somethings in my office with things like back pain, neck pain, and headaches that are the result of bad posture. I personally believe this is caused by a combination of things like heavy backpacks, poor posture while at the computer, and video games. But why is it important to have good posture?
Benefits of Good Posture:
- Helps us keep bones and joints in correct alignment so our muscles are used correctly. Abnormal wearing can result in arthritis and joint pain.
- Reduces the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the likelihood of injury.
- Allows muscles to work more efficiently, therefore preventing muscle fatigue.
- Helps prevent muscle strain and even back and muscular pain.
Conversely, poor posture can lead to excessive strain on our postural muscles that can cause them to weaken over time. As a result, people who have chronically poor posture are more prone to injury and back pain. Stress, obesity, pregnancy, abnormally tight muscles, and poor shoe choices can contribute to poor posture. Poor sitting, standing, and sleeping habits can also contribute to bad posture over time.
So how are we supposed to sit properly? :
- Keep your feet on the floor or a footrest, if they don’t reach the floor.
- Don’t cross your legs. Your ankles should be in front of your knees.
- Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.
- Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips.
- Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid back or use a back support.
- Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground.
- Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.
How can we stand properly? :
- Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
- Keep your knees slightly bent.
- Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of the body.
- Stand tall with your shoulders pulled backward.
- Tuck in your stomach.
- Keep your head level. Do not push your head forward, backward or to the side.
- Shift your weight from your toes to your heels or one foot to the other if you have to stand for a long time.
What is the proper sleeping position? :
- Find the mattress that is right for you. We recommend buying a firm mattress and adding a pillow or foam top to it if you like a softer feel.
- Sleep with a pillow. Special pillows are available for postural problems.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleeping on your side or back is more often helpful for back pain. If you sleep on your side, put a pillow between your legs. If you sleep on your back, put a pillow under your knees.
So now that you know what your posture should be, can you correct your posture if it is not correct? In a word, yes. Conscious awareness of your own posture and knowing what your posture should be like will help you consciously correct yourself. With practice, the correct posture will replace your old posture. Your doctor of chiropractic can assist you with the proper posture, including recommending exercises to strengthen your core.