By Quozette Valera, DPT
It’s safe to say that having “good” posture is better for your body, but what exactly does that entail? You probably even heard your mother’s voice nagging you to “sit up straight!” when you read the title of this blog, but is it really that simple? And if it is, why does it seem so strenuous? First, let’s consider what makes “bad” posture so common:
Why should we try to improve our posture? Bad posture essentially places excessive strain on our joints, ligaments, and tendons. Over time, our musculoskeletal system adapts and becomes accustomed to these slumped positions, and without engaging the proper postural muscles to hold ourselves up we can develop increased stiffness and decreased flexibility which ultimately leads to dysfunction.
So, how can we obtain better posture? First, let’s clarify that “perfect” posture doesn’t exist. A common mistake when attempting better posture is over-correcting (arching the back, sticking out the chest) and forcing your body from one extreme to the other. This can actually over-work your muscles and be very fatiguing and uncomfortable. Instead of trying be perfectly upright, focus on sitting and standing in a more neutral position. Here are some basic tips:
Ultimately, whether sitting or standing, the worst posture is the one you are in for longer than 30 minutes (especially when working at a desk). If you allow your body to settle in one position for a prolonged amount of time, getting out of that position will be difficult and you may feel stiff and sore by the time you are ready to move. The best solution is to take periodic stretch breaks and keep moving! Movement helps get fluid in your joints and blood-flow to your tissues which can help prevent those episodes of achiness toward the end of a long workday (or Netflix mega marathon, your choice). Remember, forget about normal and focus on neutral!
Helpful visual aids: http://www.wikihow.com/Sit