Friday 24 January 2014

Why is good Posture important?

I travel alot for work and I see it everywhere - people slouching in chairs or hunched over laptops, particularly on trains! Didn't your mother ever tell you to sit up straight? It drives me mad, I have the overwhelming urge to straighten people up!

Why is posture so important and what can be done to correct bad posture?

The term 'posture' refers to 'the carriage of the spine as a whole, the attitude of the body, or the position of the limbs' (Webster New World Dictionary), it also refers to the body's alignment and position against gravity whether standing, seated or prone so that no one area of the body is over stressed.  The spine naturally has 4 curves, which act like a shock absorber and distribute the vertical pressure on the spine, when all the natural curves of the spine are in place, and the hip bone is on the same plane as the pubic bone, we call this the 'neutral spine' (a term used alot in Pilates).

Bad Posture

The sitting position is where most bad posture is seen, people tend to push their head forward from the spinal column whilst driving or working on a computer.  This then causes the muscles at the back of the neck to have to do the job of the spine by pulling the weight of the head back, the spinal column usually curls forward too and the shoulders become rounded.  This can cause the neck muscles to become fatigued and they will become strained and painful.  The head weighs roughly a stone in weight, as the head is held forward of the spinal column the dead weight upon the body increases (imagine holding a bowling ball straight out in front of you all the time), this can then cause further pain down the spine, headaches, reduced blood and oxygen to the brain, fatigue and decreased range of movement when moving limbs.

The NHS recognises that 90% of all low back pain stems from;

- bending awkwardly
- lifting, carrying or pushing incorrectly
- slouching in chairs
- standing or bending down for long periods
- twisting or over-stretching
- driving in a hunched position

Bad posture has also been proved to influence our mood, a study led by Brian Meier, a psychologist at North Dakota University found that emotions have a highly physical basis, so sad thoughts could lead to a slumped posture with eyes directed down, and happy thoughts to a more upright posture and the eyes looking up.  Therefore by simply looking up could give you a physical boost that leads to better posture and a better mood!

The Good News

Bad posture can, in most cases, be fixed - as it's a habit and habits can be relearned.  Just by becoming more mindful of your body alignment can help ensure that you sit or stand up taller.
Probably just by reading this you've straightened yourself up...?

What to do:

-  When sitting at a desk - roll your shoulders back and down, open up the collar bones and take some  deep breathes - just thinking about your alignment helps - where the mind goes the body follows!

-  Avoid staying in one position for long periods

 - Exercise regularly to promote strong abdominal and back muscles (Pilates is excellent for this)

 - Maintain a healthy body weight

Once you begin to feel the benefits of good posture, you will not want to revert back to old habits - you will be standing taller and straighter, you will have less pain and tension in your neck muscles, you will have less lower back pain, and you will look and feel more confident. So stand up tall and face the world!!

If you have concerns about your posture consider having a 1-2-1 postural analysis - this will assess weaknesses in your body and a program will be devised to correct these.

Get in touch to come along to one of our Pilates classes;

1 comment:

  1. Great post - I work 13 hour shifts (sat at a computer) so will be taking your tips into consideration. Thanks for linking to #LoveNorthEast


Feel free to comment.