If you are concerned about good health, then proper attention to your posture should be at the top of your list. Along with proper eating habits, exercise and adequate rest, good posture is a vital component of good health. Good posture will enable you to perform your daily tasks more efficiently, causing less fatigue and strain as well as allowing the systems of the body to function optimally. Without good posture you cannot be truly physically fit.
This information may take some by surprise. The importance of good posture is often overlooked when considering fitness programs. In fact, the benefits of good posture may be among the best kept secrets of the current fitness movement. What should be good news for most people is that the problems associated with bad posture can easily be avoided and changes to improve posture can be made at any age.
Advantages of Good Posture
Good posture means that your bones are properly aligned allowing your muscles, joints and ligaments to work as nature intended. As a result your body becomes a more efficient machine requiring less effort and energy to perform your activities of daily living. Faulty posture places abnormal or excessive forces on joints, straining muscles and stretching connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments. In the short term many people experience an aching or burning in muscles and joints usually at the base of the neck, between the shoulder blades or in the lower back. Long term consequences of poor posture include short tense muscles, alterations in body shape and appearance, degenerative joint disease as well as compromising the efficiency of the major systems of the body including digestion, elimination and respiration.
Causes of Poor Posture
Poor posture may develop due to accidents or falls, but more likely the root cause is the daily environmental stresses that are placed on the body as well as poor postural habits. These factors usually put the body in poor positions to oppose the force of gravity straining muscles, ligaments and eventually the skeleton. In most circumstances the major contributing factors to poor posture are controllable. Specifically poor posture is related to:
1. Sustained flexed postures such as working in a sitting or stooped position such as at a computer or on an assembly line.
2. Driving, especially in cars with poorly designed seats or poorly adjusted seats.
3. Improper sleeping habits and positions.
4. Jobs requiring repetitive movements
5. Excessive weight.
6. Careless habits included in all of the above situations.
Check Your Posture
Stand with the back of your head touching the wall and your heels six inches from the baseboard. With your buttocks touching the wall, check the distance with your hand between your lower back and the wall and your neck and the wall. If you can get within an inch or two at the low back and two inches at the neck your posture is probably pretty good. If your lower back arches greatly away from the wall and it feels uncomfortable to have the back of your head touching the wall because the middle portion of your back is too rounded you probably have poor posture.
To improve your posture try the following. Stand with your knees slightly bent and slightly tuck your pelvis inwards (or create a posterior pelvic tilt). This will eliminate the excessive lordosis or arching of the lower back. Pull your shoulder blades together, tuck your chin in and move your head so that it feels as though it is centered from front to back over the shoulders. This may feel a bit unusual because you are using muscles that have not been used properly for a long time. Obviously no one has perfect posture all the time, but paying attention to your body position will leave you in a more balanced position making it easier to conduct your regular activities. Further tips for improving posture include.
1. Keep your weight down.
2. Exercise regularly. This keeps the muscles which support the skeleton flexible and strong.
3. Have a good bed and mattress.
4. Get injuries treated properly. Even injuries in childhood may contribute to poor posture in adulthood.
5. Have your eyes examined regularly. Vision problems can affect the way you carry yourself.
6. Be conscious of your posture at work. Is your chair the correct height for your desk? If you have to bend and lift at work, bend at the knees and hips not the back.
Good posture is an important component of good health. Many people do not appreciate the powerful influence that poor posture has in contributing to poor health. Poor posture compromises all of the major systems of the body and the long term consequences can be very severe. Good posture requires attention and effort, however, over time as your body becomes accustomed to the proper position it becomes easier to maintain good posture. Remember you can never be truly physically fit without good posture.