Why Is Having Good Posture Important?
You probably remember your mother telling you to “stand up straight” as a child. As it turns out, Mom telling you not to slouch was sound advice. Having good posture gives others the impression that you are a confident person, and it prevents a bunch of other medical issues.
You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from good posture, although it does help athletes optimize performance. Posture is essential to those in all walks of life, helping to prevent and minimize the following health conditions:
Degenerative Disc Disease: Having poor posture can lead to degenerative disc disease. Over time, your slouching causes the tissue in the vertebrae to break down, causing pain and decreasing mobility.
Shoulder Pain: Physical therapists call it “shoulder impingement.” Shoulder pain is often the direct result of poor posture. Not sitting and standing properly can cause your rotator cuffs to press against what’s known as your shoulder’s coracoacromial arch, which may be why it hurts when you reach to pick things up.
Lower Back Pain: Having bad posture can cause unnecessary tension on your spine, weakening the tissues in your lower back and ultimately producing chronic back pain.
Rounded Shoulders: Rounded shoulders are often the result of poor posture, although they can also occur when weightlifters focus too much on chest exercises. When left untreated, rounded shoulders can produce chest and neck problems.
Forward Head Posture: A patient’s head is vertically aligned with their spine when using good posture. Forward head posture (FHP) occurs when one continually leans their head forward, which can cause stiffness of the neck, pain, and balance issues.
Headaches: The American Migraine Foundation has found that poor posture, especially for those who sit slumped over their desks all day, dramatically affects the frequency of migraines and headaches.
Good Posture Checklist
With all the problems listed above caused by poor posture, it is vital to maintain a good posture. Below is a checklist of things to look for:
Are you holding your head straight?
Are your shoulders level?
Are your hips level?
Is your chin parallel to the floor?
Do your shoulders line up with your ears?
Remember, you have to be aware of your posture to fix it and avoid the various aches and pains that arise from not sitting and standing correctly. The above checklist serves as a general guide to making adjustments to how you sit and stand.
What Can I Do to Improve My Posture?
We often get the question from patients: “what can I do to improve my posture?” No one is born with these bad habits, and by taking the following steps, you can significantly reduce your risk to your back, spine, and shoulders.
Change Positions: If you find yourself sitting in a chair or any position for a prolonged period, shift to a new one.
Pull in Those Stomach Muscles: You don’t have to wear a girdle, but be mindful of not simply “wearing” your stomach muscles.
Don’t Ride Low in Your Car Seat: Stop the lowriding for goodness sake! Keep your car seat at a 90-degree angle.
Puff Out that Chest: You’re not a penguin, but you should remember to lift your chest to allow your shoulders to fall naturally.
Stand with Your Weight Evenly Distributed on Both Feet: This one is pretty self-explanatory.
Straight-Backed Chairs: Sit in a chair with a straight back and feet flat on the floor. This maintains a lordosis or inward curve of the lower back.
Wear Comfortable Shoes: Ditch the high heels and go for something you can walk in.
Exercise and Weight Loss: Now is the perfect time to lose that Covid weight. Exercise and a well-balanced diet are crucial to maintaining a good posture.
Sleeping: Sleep on a firm mattress. If you sleep on your back, use a flat pillow under your head and shoulders.