“Happy new year!” It’s an inherently positive message meaning let’s look forward to a bright new start but you can’t see the horizon (much less what’s in front of you) if you’re looking at the ground. Over my twenty years in Physiotherapy practice, I have seen the decline in people’s posture in general. About 90% of my patients have arrived with poor posture and likely posture was a contributing factor to their ailments in 70% of those patients.
Why do we get poor posture? Repetitive, sustained activities cause our muscles to tighten and shorten where other muscles lengthen and weaken. There are varying degrees and types of posture but very typical is the Head Forward Posture (HFP) - head as the name implies, hunched upper back, rounded shoulders, and arms rotated inwards. With the growing use of laptops, tablets, cell phone texting, etcetera, it seems that society is heading back to the Neanderthal days in terms of posture. But it’s not too late.
Why do we need good posture? Poor posture can contribute negatively to a number of problems, such as neck and low back pain, headaches, Degenerative Disc Disease, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Shoulder Impingement – to name a few. Good posture or good alignment puts muscles and joints in their ideal lengths and positions, thereby allowing optimal mobility and reducing stress on your joints.
Musculoskeletal benefits aside, there’s also the psychosocial benefits of making you look and feel more confident. Vying for a new job? Wanting that lead role? You likely won’t get chosen if you’re hunched forward, looking like you might curl up like a ball when times get tough.
What does good posture look and feel like? Start with these 5 simple steps in standing:
1) Think of a string attached to the top of your head pulling you straight up.
2) Tuck in your chin so that your face is perpendicular to the horizon.
3) Open up your chest so that your shoulder blades are on your back but not tightly squeezed together.
4) Lower your shoulders from your ears, keeping them square and your arms at your sides.
5) Now look at that beautiful horizon!
What’s more important than good posture? You got it – good movement. The key, especially in this age of sedentary occupations, is to change positions every twenty minutes and engage in some regular exercise to maintain range of motion and strength.
So let’s start 2015 off right -- stand tall and “KEEP MOVING”.
By: Linda Maedel