Is your posture good? In the age of desk jobs and cell phones our bodies have adapted to the positions we find ourselves in most often. We have a complex, but delicate system that requires balance in order to function optimally. Posture is important because it allows our body to function as intended. It helps us stand, walk, sit, and lie in positions that place the least strain on supporting muscles and ligaments.
WHAT DOES CORRECT POSTURE DO?
- It helps us keep bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in degenerative arthritis and joint pain.
- It reduces the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the likelihood of injury.
- It allows muscles to work more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy and, therefore, preventing muscle fatigue.
- It helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and even back and muscular pain.
COMMON POSTURAL ISSUES
Because our lives revolve around sitting whether it is at a desk or in car during your commute to work we find some common postural commonalities today.
- One is forward head posture (FHP), this is the forward positioning of the neck. This posture is sometimes called “Text Neck”, “Scholar’s Neck”, or “Reading Neck.” FHP can be caused by several factors including sleeping with the head elevated too high, extended use of computers and cellphones or lack of developed back muscle strength. Treatment involves stretching muscles in the front of the torso such as the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor while also strengthening muscles in the back of the torso such as the rhomboids. FHP can appear in other postural deficiencies such as Kyphosis, or rounding of the back, or Upper Crossed Syndrome.
- Upper-Crossed Syndrome (UCS) is tightness of the upper back region combined with tightness of the pectoralis major and minor (similar to FHP). Weakness of the deep cervical (neck) flexors combined with weakness of the middle and lower trapezius (mid back). This pattern of imbalance creates joint dysfunction and can contribute to other complications such as shoulder impingement.3
HOW TO MAINTAIN GOOD POSTURE
Maintaining proper posture requires adequate muscle flexibility and strength, normal joint motion in the spine and other body regions, as well as efficient postural muscles that are balanced on both sides of the spine. Additionally, being aware of your postural habits at home and in the workplace is key to correcting them.