Tips for Perfect Posture
I often think about good posture, but it isn't something I actually have. There’s nothing wrong with me physically, but I’m always hunched over while both sitting and walking. I’ve probably acquired this habit from working on the computer, during which time, I lean forward until I’m at a 45 degree angle between my chair and the keyboard.
Poor Posture Habits
According to the Southern California Orthopedic Institute, sitting is where most of us get into trouble with poor posture habits. As we focus on the activity in front of us, we tend to bend our back and protrude our head and neck forward. The lumbar spine, following the head’s movement, tends to round forward as well. When this occurs, the weight of the head and upper body is no longer balanced over the spinal column, but instead must be supported by increased muscular energy.
Ideally, the S-shaped curvature of the spine that is characteristic of good standing posture should be maintained when sitting as well. This is best accomplished by sitting all the way back in a straight-backed chair and placing a folded towel or small pillow in the arch of the low back.
The most obvious benefit of good posture is a strong spine. It keeps the many intricate structures of the spine moving correctly and positioned properly. Bones are properly aligned and muscles, joints, and ligaments can work as nature intended. Moreover, vital organs are kept in the right position and can function at peak efficiency.
Not maintaining good posture can add strain to muscles and put stress on the spine. Over time, the stress of poor posture can change the anatomical characteristics of the spine, leading to the possibility of constricted blood vessels and nerves. When muscles have to work hard just to hold a person up, and energy is wasted on the simple act of moving, poor posture can lead to fatigue.
Tightness and Pain
Some people also experience tight, achy muscles in the neck, back, arms and legs. By this stage, changes may even occur to the muscles and ligaments, resulting in a stiff, tight, painful feeling. More than 80 percent of neck and back problems are the result of achy muscles brought on by years of bad posture. Joint stiffness and pain are signs of impending degenerative osteoarthritis; poor posture and limited mobility increase the likelihood of this condition in later years.
Aside from decreasing the possibilities of fatigue, pain and strain, good posture is also important for overall health. First and foremost, breathing becomes easier and deeper, allowing oxygen to flow easily and efficiency throughout the body. When you sit and bend over, breathing becomes restricted as muscles and tendons are tightened. Proper posture also improves digestion and circulation and can help you keep a more positive frame of mine. As you sit before the computer or drive in the car, become conscious of your posture and remember to sit up straight.
To help you maintain your posture and health, here are some lifestyle tips:
- Keep your weight down – excess weight, especially around the middle, pulls on the back and weakens stomach muscles
- Develop a regular exercise regiment to keep you flexible and tone your muscles to support proper posture
- Sleep on a firm mattress to support the spine
- Have your eyes examined – a vision problem can affect the way you carry yourself
- Be conscious of your work environment – make sure your chair is high enough to fit your desk and a footrest is available to keep pressure off your legs