Just hearing the words “good posture” may cause a reflex reaction of pulling your shoulders back and sitting or standing up straight. Well, you can relax while you read this article, because your visions of good posture may just be about to change.
If you have read a little in this area of health recently, you may already understand that you do not need to be stiff and look like you left the coat hanger in your shirt to have healthy posture! In fact, various health and fitness personnelagree that good posture is better viewed as the maintenance of a healthy curvature of the spine and “…a position that puts the body under the least amount of physical stress when it is both moving and stationary.”
To explain this a little more, imagine that you were looking at your skeleton from one side. What you would notice about the spinal column – is that it has a series of natural curves from the neck area down to the coccyx. These curves are actually an important design feature of the spine, for its role as the supporting structure of your body. Degradation of these curves can occur over the process of time and through the activities of our lifestyle.
Harm to posture – an example:
When we are seated in a hunched position over desks for long periods, the shoulders can roll forward and the muscles of the neck and upper back work harder than they are designed to. This is not an optimal position for our body to be in the long-term.
- What to do?
Firstly, if you are experiencing continued pain and discomfort in your back and/or neck, we recommend you seek medical advice from your doctor.
- Secondly, it is recommended that you look after your spine by considering ways to maintain those natural curves. Here is a list of suggestions about ways to do this.
- Raise your “posture awareness” in daily activities – as you move and carry out daily activities, try to keep a relaxed posture. This analogy may help you visualize how good posture should feel and can be used in either a standing or seated position:
- Imagine there is a fine piece of string attached to the top of your head, which is gently lifting you into a taller and relaxed body position
- Get active with regular whole-body physical activities that you enjoy like swimming, walking, team sports, bike riding etc.
Some specific physical activities that strengthen your core muscle groups can assist posture by acting like a brace for the back muscles. A physiotherapist or registered fitness leader could help you with these.