Written By Shirmilla Julka, Chartered Physiotherapist
Published – DAVID LlOYD Fitness
We too often take our posture for granted and forget that it says a lot about the kind of person we are and how we feel about ourselves. Someone with good posture often projects a positive image of poise, confidence and dignity, and aside from this, good posture is an essential requirement of the body to allow it to perform to its maximum potential.
What Is Good Posture?
Attaining good posture requires a balanced alignment between the spine, muscles and joints. The spine is not straight but made up of three continuous curves: A slight forward curve in the neck (cervical spine), a slight backward curve in the upper back (thoracic curve) and another forward curve in the lower back (lumbar curve). The muscles of the spine, abdomen and legs must be strong and flexible in order to support these spinal curves. The joints of the spine, hip, knee and ankle are crucial in balancing the back’s natural curves when in motion, making it possible to keep a good posture in any position.
How Can It Be Achieved?
There is no instant cure for bad posture. To achieve good posture requires discipline, practice and adequate muscle tone. Remember that taking exercise and regular breaks throughout the day will prevent aches, pains and stiffness and bad postural habits building up. The things that you should practice in achieving good posture include the following:
Avoid sitting in ‘easy’ chairs as they provide little support for the lower back and can permanently stiffen the back leaving you with a fixed slouch. Try to maintain the lumbar curve by sitting with hips well back in the chair with a small cushion in the small of the back.
Your work station must be at the right height to allow you to work without slouching forwards. Sit or stand as close as possible to your desk and have everything you need close at hand to avoid twisting or straining. Use a swivel chair with good back support and ensure your thighs are slightly higher than your knees, with your feet resting on the floor.
Use a firm mattress resting on a hard base and support your neck with no more than one or two pillows. Sleep in any position you find comfortable.
Always wear comfortable fitted clothing and footwear with good support appropriate for your chosen activity. Perform adequate warm up and stretching exercise, and if you have not exercised for a while, start slowly and progressively build up your strength. After your exercise period, perform a cool down regime to enable your heart rate and breathing to normalise. Seek professional advice if unsure.
Causes And Remedies
Back Pain: Never the result of one injury and usually taking months or years to develop due to slouched posture and inaccurate bending and lifting. Physiotherapy, including manipulation and mobilisation, is the most effective treatment to resolve back pain.
Joint Stiffness: This is a result of continuous strain placed on the joints because of poor posture and usually stressful living, working or exercise habits. Using manual techniques such as tractions and joint manipulations help to unstiffin the joints hence restoring their normal function.