When discussing proper body alignment, the idea of good posture is often arbitrarily thrown around as a concept that everybody should understand and actively practice. The actual rhetoric surrounding what makes posture good or bad, though, is a bit more complex. Demystifying this issue in the public sphere is an important task – because improving posture can mean improving pain management, mobility, and quality of life. Here’s how.
At its core (pun intended), posture is the position in which a person holds their body. Gravity factors into the idea of posture, as standing upright requires a reactionary force on a person’s part to hold themselves in a position against gravity. Posture doesn’t only deal with standing positions, though. Posture is also the position in which a person sits or lies down (admittedly, a bit easier than fighting gravity). To talk about good and bad posture, it’s important to consider common positions that a person may find themselves in throughout the day.
The good and the bad.
Essentially, good posture is the position in which the least strain is put on a person’s bones, muscles, and ligaments. Achieving good posture involves training oneself to sit, stand, or lay in positions that most effectively align the spine correctly. The spine has three natural curves – the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar (neck, mid-back, and lower-back respectively). When establishing good posture, it’s important to maintain these natural curves, without overemphasis.
Bad posture, contrarily, is usually noted by hunching, slouching, or slumping. As the world becomes increasingly tech-oriented, a pattern of bad computer posture is developing. When sitting at a desk for hours on end, it’s easy for a person to lose proper alignment of the spine and begin to lean forward – creating what is known as forward head posture. Postural problems can also include the way a person sleeps. Sleeping on the stomach is inadvisable, as it puts serious strain on the cervical spine.
The possible effects.
Poor posture can have immediate and lasting effects on a person’s health. By misaligning the spine, bad posture can:
- Increase load on the spine, muscles, joints, and ligaments
- Decrease mobility
- Cause back, neck, and shoulder pain
- Affect circulation
- Increase fatigue from muscle overuse
- Compress digestive organs
It’s important to address incorrect postural alignment to begin remediation on effects that posture may be having on a person’s health. These effects may be serious – but they can be reversible with proper treatment and improved posture.
The ways to improve.
- Practice pulling your shoulders back to align them properly. Slouching of the shoulders is what usually causes hunching – which in turn pulls down the head.
- Engage core muscles to pull your stomach closer to your spine and create a straight line in your body.
- Keep a slight bend in your knees to release pressure on the knee and hip joints.
- Practice pulling your shoulders back to align them properly.
- Face your head straight forward, not up or down. If working at a computer, align the screen with your line of site.
- Sit with your knees straightforward at right angles, not lower than your hips or crossed.
- Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees for spinal support.
- Sleep with only one pillow, preferably one that has cervical support.
- Be conscious of your mattress choice and choose one that offers proper support.
Improving posture can be an important factor in pain management practices. While these home exercises and tips can be very useful in the remedy of poor posture, at Capitol Pain we also offer advice, services, and treatment plans to assist in returning your posture to its correct alignment. In addition, our team of experts is skilled in treating the conditions and symptoms associated with repeated and consistent misalignment, such as severe arthritis, back pain, knee pain, and other spinal conditions. To find out how we can help, get in touch today.