Posture: it is something we unconsciously maintain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. While our muscles do this fantastic job for us, we are often negating their amazing work through our habits and lifestyle choices, which can put our bodies into positions that aren’t ideal, and give us poor posture. So why is poor posture such a problem? Many people may think that poor posture only affects the way our bodies look and feel… However, there are several health problems and injuries that can occur as a result of this.
While there are many medical conditions out there that can cause posture problems for people, generally posture is affected by muscle imbalances which, as mentioned earlier, can be greatly influenced by our habits and lifestyle choices. Things like sitting down at a desk staring at a computer; walking around with our heads down into our phones; sitting in the car hunched over the steering wheel; sweeping; mopping; watching tv on the couch…. All these day to day habits can be detrimental to our posture because of the abnormal positions they put our bodies into.
Now, postural issues are definitely something that are developed over time, and its not until we get into these poor postures repeatedly and for extended periods, that the problems start to creep in. Constantly being in these abnormal positions causes muscles that are important for maintaining good posture to become weak and lazy, subsequently creating muscle imbalances. This causes our bodies to be pulled out of alignment, and things like pain and injuries start to occur as our bodies are no longer in the right position or working the way they should be.
I’m not saying that you can never sit at a desk, get into a car, or watch tv ever again, but you probably need to take some action if you want to prevent your posture from worsening. The simplest and easiest solution? EXERCISE!
As I mentioned, muscle imbalances are the biggest problem when it comes to posture, having muscles that are strong and tight; as well as muscles that are weak and loose. To correct this, you need to strengthen your weak muscles through strength training, while loosening your tight muscles through stretching. What exact stretches or strength training exercises you need to do can vary from person to person, and if you are seriously concerned about your posture it may be worthwhile seeing a health professional to give you specific guidance. However, generally speaking, most people with poor posture are tight through their chest; front of the shoulders; and their quads (front of the thigh); and are weak in their upper back and core. As such, these people would want to stretch their chest, shoulders and quads, while doing exercises to strengthen their core and upper back.
Here is an example of an exercise for each of these areas:
While exercise is a brilliant way of helping correct posture problems, as well as preventing them, there are also ways of improving our posture throughout the day. One of the most common methods is 'improving work ergonomics', which is a fancy way of saying 'improving our workplace to put our bodies in safer and more comfortable positions'. We've attached a document below which highlights ways of improving work ergonomics, specifically for those who work in an office setting.
Although posture is something we unconsciously maintain, it's beneficial to take the time to think about how we can better perform our day to day activities to prevent our bodies from being in poor positions; and the exercises we can incorporate into our routine to prevent or improve our posture.
If you feel that your posture is getting out of hand and starting to cause discomfort, you might find it beneficial to book in with either Liam for Osteo treatment, or with me for some exercise specific treatment, to help you get on the right path to improving your posture.
Whatever it may be, just make sure you keep taking that NExT step!
Carly Rush - Exercise Physiologist