This month we are looking at posture. With so much of the country in lockdown and people working from home, there should be something for everyone in these blog posts. You will find these especially helpful if your WFH ergonomics aren’t the best.
What comes to mind when you think of good posture?
Does anyone remember being told to walk around balancing a book on your head? We may not have to go through deportment classes in school these days, but the old-school outcome of standing up straight with your chin tucked in and spine lengthened is still a good lesson for us to follow.
(I have just been made aware I’m showing my age – a staff member asked me what deportment was…and now google docs wants me to check the spelling and replace it with ‘department’! Am I THAT old?! OK, don’t answer that Haha) Back to business…
Posture is about more than sitting up straight.
Posture is how we hold our body.
Our posture is reflected by the functioning of our musculoskeletal system. This includes bones, muscles, joints, and other tissues that connect the parts of your body together. It’s what provides form, support, stability, and movement in your body.
When you are sitting, standing, or sleeping, this is called static posture. Dynamic posture is how you position yourself when you are moving, such as walking or bending. It is important to have good both static and dynamic posture.
Our body must adapt to and our posture can be affected by many things such as age, the activities we do, injuries we sustain and the situation we are in. For example, a pregnant woman’s body is going through postural changes. Or a student carrying a bag of books is putting different pressure on their body. Over time small changes can also have a big impact on our body.
Unfortunately, our modern day lifestyle is leading to poor posture from many day to day activities like sitting for long periods, slouching in an office chair, looking down at mobile devices, lying on the lounge, or sitting up in bed working on a laptop. When we are less active our muscles become weakened (this can also cause them to feel tight), which can contribute to our back, core and abdominal muscles being strained and painful. We might also lift objects by bending our back rather than using our legs, leading to injury and pressure on the spine.
What does poor posture look like?
Some signs of this in the body can include:
- Rounded shoulders
- Asymmetry (uneven height of shoulders or hips)
- Stomach pushed forwards
- Head that leans either forward or back, chin jutted forward
- Back pain
- Body aches and pains
- Muscle fatigue
- Balance issues
- Breathing difficulties
While these symptoms can be as a result of poor posture, as always, it is important to consult your medical practitioner to rule out other health related causes.
Some posture problems can be present at birth, be related to degenerative conditions of the spine, or as a result of back surgery.
There are four common types of poor posture:
- Forward head
- Kyphosis (hunchback)
- Swayback (hyperlordosis)
Other positions include chin poking forward and uneven shoulders or hips.
So, what can we do to change our posture?
Good posture should actually feel effortless. Minor adjustments are often all it takes to improve your posture. Pushing your shoulders back and sticking your chest out isn’t actually the answer. Instead, be aware of your body. Be mindful of how you are sitting or standing. Move to a better position when you need to, by listening to your body for how it feels.
I remember being told to imagine a string is coming from the crown of my head pulling me gently upwards. This has helped me to gently realign my body.
In our next blog post in a fortnight, we will dive deeper into things that can help improve posture, as well as touch on ergonomics. In the meantime, on our Instagram and Facebook, we will also post some tips and strategies to try at home.