Most of us can still hear our Grandmother’s voice ringing in our ears to stand up and sit up straight. We did and our health is better for the swift and frequent reminders. Unfortunately, that is an era gone by. Most of our communications are received through a small screen that we slouch and slump to see due to the long hours we remain in that position to inner face with the world. Few people understand the true importance of maintaining good posture. This poor posture is accelerating our forward head posture which is having a detrimental effect on our overall health.
Understanding from the Top
Good posture is more than standing up straight. You have posture when you stand, walk, sit, kneel, lie down, play sport, etc. Whatever position your body gets into, there is a right way and a wrong way of doing it. The right way reduces strain on the supporting muscles and ligaments. The wrong way hurts but not necessarily with immediate pain.
The most serious posture change that is effecting our society of all ages today is the forward head posture. The forward head posture change is a huge factor in your overall health because it relates to your central nervous system, which is your body’s power supply. When you have a forward head posture your spinal cord is pulled and stretched. This tension changes the shape of your spinal cord.
When your spine is healthy and relaxed, your spinal cord sends signals between your brain and body at approximately 275 mph. As you decrease the natural curves of your spine and over stretch the cord, the speed of these signals traveling between your brain and body all day long is compromised.
Benefits of Good Posture
Good posture does the following for you:
- Keeps your bones and joints correctly aligned so your muscles work correctly and your joints experience the least possible wear and tear, reducing the risk of degenerative arthritis and joint pain.
- Reduces the stress on the ligaments that hold your spinal joints together, making injury less likely.
- Allows your muscles to function with less effort, so you get less tired and stressed.
- Lowers the risk of muscle strain and overuse disorders that can cause back and muscular pain.
Common risk factors for bad posture include: obesity, stress, pregnancy, weak postural muscles, unusually tight muscles, high-heels, lack of flexibility, poor work ergonomics, and bad habits when sitting and standing.
Learn to Sit Properly
- Your feet should rest on the floor. If they don’t, use a stool.
- Crossing your legs is not advised, and keep your ankles in front of your knees.
- Check there’s a small gap between the front of your seat and the back of your knees.
- Keep your knees at or below the level of your hips.
- Support your low- and mid-back, either with a backrest or back support.
- Don’t tense the shoulders, and check that your forearms are horizontal.
- Get up and move about regularly when stuck sitting down for long periods.
Learn to Stand Properly
- The balls of your feet should bear most of your weight.
- Don’t lock your knees; keep them slightly bent.
- Feet should be shoulder-width apart.
- Let your arms hang free at your sides.
- Stand straight and tall with shoulders pulled backward.
- Keep your stomach tucked in.
- Your head should be level, earlobes over your shoulders. Don’t force your head in any direction.
- When unavoidably on your feet for a while, shift your weight from your toes to your heels, or from one foot to the other, to share the burden.
The Art of Lying Properly
- A suitable mattress is very important. Make sure you find one that is supportive and comfortable. This is a personal matter based on your own shape.
- Use a pillow to maintain your spine in proper alignment.
- Don’t sleep on your stomach.
- Sleeping on your back is preferred with a small cushion to support your natural neck and lumbar curve. To assist with this place a small pillow under your knees.
- Place a pillow between your legs if you sleep on your side.
Experts at Hand
For Your Health,
Dr. Scott Van Dam