Did you know that the curvature of your spine plays a significant role in your health? Having proper posture is very important for many reasons. Beyond the cosmetic benefits of proper posture such as looking thinner and more confident in your appearance, your posture also affects how well you move and feel on a daily basis. Posture influences every physiologic function of your body; it can have a positive or negative influence on your strength, function, performance and overall energy levels.
From a structural perspective, posture is the position of your spine, connective tissue, ligaments and muscles that support it. Healthy posture starts with the proper position of the spine. A healthy back has three natural curves. Abnormal curvatures of the spine lead to postural imbalances affecting other parts of the body. For example, individuals who present with an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine (or scoliosis) often present with postural imbalances of the hips, the shoulders, and the scapulae.
Bad posture is a modern-day health epidemic that is much worse than most people naturally assume. When your posture is out of balance, then your spine is out of balance, putting unhealthy pressure upon all other structures of the body including the nervous system and organs that assist in respiration. The spine has a powerful relationship with the brain, spinal cord, and overall organ function. This intimate connection means that poor posture and spinal health has a far more reaching affect throughout the entire body. Eventually the structural changes from poor posture can lead to muscle tension, fatigue, pain, injury, and organ system dysfunction.
Although postural exercises can help to bring awareness to muscular imbalances of these spinal curvatures, it is also important to have the alignment of the spine evaluated by a Postural Specialist. To obtain normal range of motion of the spinal column it has to be established by first increasing the mobility of the spinal articulations.
Long-term postural correction requires a 360-degree approach including spinal alignment therapy to correct the position of the spinal curves, postural rehabilitation to improve muscular function of the muscles that support the spine, and posture habit re-education to maintain healthy posture during activities of daily living.
Being aware of your posture throughout the day is essential to maintaining healthy posture. Consider the following 3 tips to improve your posture immediately.
1) Have Grounded Posture: Proper standing posture is about alignment and balance. Not only will this improve your posture, you will look taller and leaner, too. Try it!
- Place your feet about shoulder width apart with your weight distributed equally over both feet.
- Stand up straight by contracting your core muscles. A strong core supports good posture.
- Keep your weight on the balls of your feet. When you rest on your heels, your natural tendency will be to slouch your shoulders forward.
- Keep your shoulders and your chin back. It may feel unnatural at first if you have not yet developed good posture habits. However, this will become second nature with focused attention.
2) Walk With Poise: Proper walking posture begins with good standing posture. Walking with good posture is simply an extension of standing with good posture. Keep your head up, shoulders back, chest out, and eyes looking straight ahead. Avoid pushing your head forward. Many people tend to look down at the ground while walking; this can cause strain on your neck and shoulders. Be sure to look forward and walk with confidence.
3) Sit Up Straight: For many of us, we are stuck sitting at a desk all day (also think about your children at school). It’s especially important to follow these basic guidelines, both for your posture and for your health.
- If you work long hours at a desk and have the option, use a chair that is ergonomically designed for proper support and designed for your height and weight. If this is not an option, try using a small pillow for lumbar support.
- Align your back with the back of the office chair. This will help you avoid slouching or leaning forward, which you may find yourself doing after sitting for prolonged periods of time.
- As with standing posture, keep your shoulders straight and squared, your head is upright, and your neck, back, and heels are all aligned.
- Keep both feet on the ground or on a footrest if your legs don’t reach all the way to the ground.
Dr. Krista Burns DC, DRHA, CPEP, CPS
Doctor of Chiropractic
Doctor of Health Administration
Certified Postural Specialist
Co-Founder American Posture Institute
Posture by Design, Not by Circumstance