Good posture facilitates a strong and stable spine, which will position our centre of gravity over our feet and correctly distribute stresses to the appropriate muscles and ligaments.
“Text neck,” a term coined recently by American chiropractor Dr. Fishman, is a repetitive strain injury due to the use of electronic devices. Text neck occurs when the head is positioned forward and down for hours on end, and is just one of numerous examples on how poor posture can affect your health.
Good and bad standing posture
Good standing posture means that the spine is in a “neutral” position, shoulders are down and back, the chin is parallel to the ground, and the feet are firmly planted on the ground at hip-width apart.
Poor standing posture can be as detrimental as poor sitting posture. Slouching, stooping, or leaning on one leg while standing can cause an abnormal amount of stress placed on particular muscles and ligaments, potentially leading to neck and lower back pain.
To make matters worse, muscles become tight during the many hours spent seated at a desk job, which can further add to poor standing posture. For example, overly tight chest muscles can pull the shoulders inward, accentuating thoracic kyphosis, leading to shoulder pain and back pain. Similarly, overly tight, shortened hip muscles pull the pelvis forward and may lead to low back pain.
Poor standing and sitting posture can affect the body in other ways, too. Slouching can reduce lung capacity by as much as 30 per cent, according to researchers at the University of Southern California. And, slouching may also impact abdominal organs by reducing peristaltic action required for healthy digestion.
Lifestyle changes can help prevent and reverse poor posture
You can take these following steps to achieve a better posture:
- Use an ergonomic workstation. If laptop usage is contributing to your slouching, ensure your laptop is placed on a firm surface rather than your lap, which can encourage bad posture. Use a supportive chair that facilitates a 90-degree angle at the knees and hips, and make sure your feet are planted firmly on the floor. If needed, put a small pillow behind your low back for more support.
- Ditch the bag or briefcase. A heavy bag or briefcase can hurt the back and shoulders, especially if the same side of the body repeatedly carries it. Try using a wheeled briefcase or supportive backpack, which will evenly distribute the weight on the body.
- Exercise. Exercise can positively impact your posture in a number of ways. Shedding some pounds, especially fat around the abdomen, can reduce frontward pressure placed on the back. As well, training postural muscle groups including rhomboids, lower traps, and teres can help maintain an upright trunk and spine. Try incorporating high-intensity-interval-training (HIIT) and strength training into your workout routines.
- Stretching notoriously tight muscles, like hamstrings, hip flexors, and the pectoral muscles can help open up the chest and allow for proper pelvic alignment, leading to better standing posture.
- Get enough Vitamin D. If osteoporosis or osteopenia is a contributing factor to your poor posture, ensure you are getting enough of this sunshine vitamin, which is essential for bone health.
- Get symptomatic relief. If you are experiencing joint or muscle pain from poor standing posture, try applying Absolüt Arnica Gel to the affected area to soothe pain and inflammation.