With more and more people working (and playing) on computers these days, we definitely see a lot of rounded shoulders and hunched figures around town. We talked to an expert about what to look for in your own posture, and how to fix any bad habits.
Good posture, whether at work or at rest, is when your body is in an optimal state of muscular and skeletal balance, which protects against injury or progressive deformity.
You have good posture if:
Your joints are positioned so that there is minimum stress on the body.
Your spine is in a neutral position, curved in such a way if you look at your side profile, your ears, shoulders, knees, and ankles are lined up vertically.
- Your body is able to function at its strongest and most balance, with minimum stress on muscles, vertebrae, ligaments, joints.
Bad posture doesn’t just look bad, it can be bad for your overall physical health if you maintain it for extended periods of time. For example, many people sit at a desk for hours with shoulders rounded and body hunched forward.You have bad posture if:
Your spine deviates from neutral alignment, which in turn places strain on your joints and muscles.
Your body loses its natural core balance.
There are many ways bad posture can be illustrated, but there are four main types:
Kyphotic: increased upper back curvature, with the head forward and neck overextended, shoulders rounded, pelvis tilted forward, and knees hyper-extended. This posture is seen particularly in older women.
Lordotic: an increased forward curve of the lower back. The pelvis tilts forward and hyper-extends the knees.
Flat Back: refers to a flattening of the lower back seen in both men and women. The head comes forward slightly, extending the neck, flattening the lower back, tilting the pelvis backwards, and extending the hips and knees.
- Sway back: forward displacement of the hips, head forward, neck extended, increased curve in the upper back but flat lower back, knees and hips usually hyper-extended.
Bad posture happens one of two ways:
Structural: due to permanent, anatomical deformities
Positional (most common): due to lifestyle, including poor habits, psychological factors (e.g. self-esteem), normal degenerative processes, pain (causes muscle guarding and avoidance postures), muscle imbalance issues, joint issues, respiratory issues, excess weight, and bad desk chairs.
Effects of Bad Posture
Some effects of bad posture are superficial, but many can become serious over time.
- When you have bad posture, you can give others a negative impression. Slumping can cause people to think you are less confident, and also less fit, than you actually are.
Tension headaches, from tightened muscles in the neck, upper back, and shoulders.
Diminished breathing, from a hunched back and collapsing of the torso. Reduced rib and spinal mobility affect normal breathing movement.
Fatigue due to overworked muscles in a way they weren’t designed to.
Back pain due to muscle strain. When the back is improperly aligned, ligaments and discs are under extra stress, which can lead to damage to the intervertebral discs.
Bone spurs can rub against nerves, tendons and other bones, causing pain.
High blood pressure due to neck muscles and the brain region controlling blood pressure unable to function properly.
Reduced motion due to mal-alignment of limbs, torso and head.
How to Correct Bad Posture
If you suffer from non-impact related body pain, it’s likely you’ve got effects of bad posture. Standing or sitting up straight can help, but there’s a lot more you should be doing.
These exercise regimens can help realign your body through movement:
If you need more than some rejuvenating exercise, see one of the following experts:
- Cranial/Sacral Therapist
- Physical Therapist