Can you remember how many times your mom or grandmother told you to sit up straight and don’t slouch?
What about that ergonomics class your employer wanted you to take?
When was the last time you read an article that emphasized the need to stand up straighter, adjust the monitor for better viewing, or walking without looking at the sidewalk?
Our posture is critically important to our health and is one of the things in life that is hard to get, and quick to lose. Good posture can decrease pressure on the knees, hips, and low back. It can also help decrease our chance of injury and give us more energy at the end of the day. Even the slightest dysfunction in the spine and our posture can cause nagging back pain. This is evident when wearing a walking boot after an ankle injury. Most patients that wear a walking boot report feeling back and leg pain shortly after walking with it. Not paying attention to how we are standing, sitting, walking, or bending may cause chronic pain.
While having good posture often take work to achieve, the benefits are great. One benefit of good posture is better balance. Balance is something we often take for granted until we lose it (as is the case of vertigo or walking on an icy sidewalk). As we get older we often find our balance decreasing.
Want to test your balance? Try this quick exercise, stance on one bare foot with your eyes closed. Ensure that you have your hand ready to grab a wall or chair. Often when we take away our sight, our bodies rely on other markers of balance including the perception of our bodies position in space and time (proprioception). (Video demonstration)
Beyond looking taller and gaining better balance, posture and balance have another significant health benefit, preventing falls. As we age and our balance decreases, the chances of us falling increases as well as the chance of injury with each fall.
Another, and possibly more readily obtainable benefit of good posture is a decrease in chronic pain and preventing injuries. Our bodies are designed to move as individual parts that make up a greater whole. Our brains perform these skilled movements (such as walking, jumping, driving, etc) by using proprioception to know where and when to move to reach the desired goal. When our posture is off, our brains can get confused because parts of the body are not moving like they should. This causes the recruitment of muscles to make the movements and often leads to overworking and pain in those muscles.
Correcting posture is a process and not something that will happen overnight but it is obtainable. While there is no such thing as perfect posture it is important to improve posture to decrease stress on the body. A great first step is to check out our video below for 3 exercises/tips that you can start using to get better posture and start feeling better.
Video coming soon
While there is no such thing as perfect posture, as everyone is unique, it is in our best interest to decrease the physical stress on our bodies. By improving posture, we can increase our balance, reduce chronic pain, and decrease our risk for injuries.
So the question is, are you standing up straight?
Hand vector created by Freepik