“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” – Abraham Lincoln
When we speak of posture we are referring to the position you maintain when you are standing, sitting or even lying down. And what constitutes “good”, or proper, posture? It’s a position that creates the least amount of strain on supporting muscles and ligaments while moving or performing weight-bearing activity. And, as trite as it may seem, maintaining good posture really does provide significant health benefits.
Good Posture: Feeling Good and Looking Good
While the measurable benefits of maintaining a good posture are mostly physiological, there is a notable effect on people both emotionally and psychologically when they transition from a chronic or habitual poor posture to a proper one.
Not only does standing and striding in a fully upright and properly balanced fashion make you feel better, but it can also make you “look” better.
But the physical benefits are just as important and more readily noticeable and measurable. Here is a short list of some of these benefits:
- Keeps bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly
- Helps decrease the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces
- Decreases the stress on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together
- Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions
- Prevents fatigue since muscles are used more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy
- Prevents backache and muscular pain
Additional benefits that come from maintaining a good posture also include:
- Fewer headaches
- Increased energy levels
- Less tension in your shoulders and neck
- Increased lung capacity
- Improved circulation and digestion
- Improved core and scapular strength
- Better form during workouts
While these benefits apply to everyone who walks, stands, sits, or lies down, it is especially true for those who are engaged in sports or who work out regularly.
An article from Harvard Medical School, notes that,
“Good posture is important to balance: by standing up straight, you center your weight over your feet. This also helps you maintain correct form while exercising, which results in fewer injuries and greater gains. And working on balance can even strengthen your abilities in tennis, golf, running, dancing, skiing — and just about any other sport or activity.
Not an athlete? It still pays to have good balance. Just walking across the floor or down the block requires good balance. So do rising from a chair, going up and down stairs, toting packages, and even turning to look behind you.”
In other words, everyone benefits from a proper and well-balanced posture.
The Power of Proper Posture
Posture, of course, is not just about how you stand or walk. Since most of us spend vast amounts of our days sitting, the posture we maintain in our chairs is critical to our physical well-being.
We’ve pointed out in a previous post that,
“[S]itting causes your hip flexors to shorten, and your seated position can also hurt your back, particularly if you have bad posture or don’t use an ergonomic chair. Also, poor posture while sitting can cause compression on the discs in your spine and can lead to premature degeneration, which results in chronic pain.”
So, what does a “good posture” look like? There are a few characteristics that you should note when you are standing such as:
- Your chin should be parallel to the floor
- Keep both shoulders even
- Your arms should be at your sides with elbows straight
- There should be no flexing or arching of your spine
- Your abdominal muscles should be slightly taut
- Keep your hips and knees even and pointing straight ahead
- Your body weight should be evenly distributed evenly to both feet
Your posture with practice and reinforced with a few simple exercises and balance-focused workouts. These are designed to address posture and balance problems by building strength in key regions and loosening overly tight muscles.
Learning to be aware of your posture at all times and increasing your core strength and flexibility can help you noticeably improve your posture in just a couple of weeks.
While a good posture by itself will not totally prevent injury it can prevent the chronic neck and back pain often associated with poor posture. Getting expert advice and insight into your individual needs is also a great step in either preventing or treating any pain issues you may have now.
Posture Help from Pain and Performance Solutions
While a proper gait, a good posture, and a well-balanced regimen of physical activity can help prevent chronic pain, life still happens. If you are suffering from pain and especially debilitating chronic pain, we invite you to come in and see us.
At your first appointment here at Pain and Performance Solutions, we will learn all we can about your present pain and condition, along with any history of discomfort, as well as your current activity – or lack of it.
Treating and relieving pain starts once we understand where and how your pain started.
A full examination will help us determine which form of treatment is best suited to get you on your road to recovery. Your trust in us is key, as is your honesty. Ultimately, getting your body healthy and working properly is the only way to achieve total recovery. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have.
We will conduct a full examination to help us determine which form of treatment is best suited to put you on your road to recovery. Because our bodies will compensate for pain to allow us to function during our day, the pain can shift around and lead to other forms of pain.
Our goal is to work through the sequence of pain and dysfunction in order to get your body healthy and working properly, and to achieve total recovery. Don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have.
You can reach us at (707) 636-4404 or by filling out our online contact form.