Body posture is the position of the body when standing or sitting. This describes how the spine is aligned with the head, shoulders, and hips. But how do we know if we have a correct posture?
There is no “perfect” posture, just as there are no perfect bodies. Correct posture refers to having a neutral spine, where muscle groups, joints, and ligaments are aligned in a way that reduces stress, keeps the body flexible, reduces fatigue, and helps maintain balance.
If posture is out of alignment, it can lead to muscle or joint strain, neck, head, or back pain, or possible injury during exercise, work, or other activities.
What is the correct posture?
Posture is how the body is held or supported. There are two kinds:
- Dynamic posture refers to how it is held when we move, such as when we are walking, running or bending down to pick something up.
- Static posture refers to how you maintain yourself when you are not moving, such as when sitting, standing, or sleeping.
It is important to maintain good dynamic and static posture. It’s easy to develop the habit of poor posture without thinking about it. We may spend a lot of time hunched over a small screen, hunched over in a chair, or carrying a heavy backpack when we walk. Or we can use repetitive movements in our workplace.
After a while, all of these factors can lead to poor posture. Being overweight or pregnant, or wearing poor-quality shoes or high heels, can also lead to poor posture. You can also be born with scoliosis (an abnormally curved spine) or one leg shorter than the other, which can affect posture.
The optimal or efficient type of posture has the spine in alignment with the head and limbs. From the side, it should look like a plumb line from the head going through the middle of the ears and shoulders and just behind the center of the knee and in front of the center of the ankle. It’s what the phrase ” stand up straight ” means.
Physically, proper spinal alignment means that the muscles and bones are in balance, protecting the body from injury or stress that could cause muscle or joint degeneration. It helps the body work more efficiently to keep it upright against the force of gravity.
types of bad posture
Having poor posture can be quickly identified by the general position of the body.
Forward head posture is when the head is positioned with the ears facing the vertical midline of the body. If the body is aligned, the ears and shoulders will be aligned with the vertical midline.
Tech neck, text neck, and nerd neck are other names for the forward head posture. It usually prevents you from slouching over a mobile phone or a computer, or the steering wheel if you drive a lot. It can also result from the aging process, as muscle strength in the upper body is lost.
The effects of a forward head posture range from neck pain, stiffness, and headache to an association with higher mortality rates for older men and women. The text collar tightens the muscles and the supporting ligaments and tendons in the front of the neck and at the same time lengthens the muscular structure in the back of the neck.
In a neutral posture, the head weighs 5 to 6 kilos. When the forward posture is 15 degrees out of alignment, the force on the spine increases to 30 pounds. At 45 degrees forward it increases to 24 kilos and at 60 degrees forward it increases to 30 kilos.
Kyphosis refers to an exaggerated curvature of the upper back (thoracic spine) where the shoulders round forward. It is also called a hump.
Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones) can cause the shoulders to round as the bones in the spine weaken with age. It is frequently seen in older women. Other age-related causes include degeneration of the spinal discs or vertebrae.
Younger people can develop kyphosis as a result of diseases such as polio or Scheuermann’s disease, infection, or chemotherapy or radiation to treat cancer. When we are very stooped, it is more difficult to walk and we have an increased risk of falls and injuries. Older women with hyperkyphosis have a 70 percent increased risk of fracture.
Also called lordosis or hyperlordosis, this is when the hips and pelvis tilt forward, away from the midline of the body. In this position, the lower back has an exaggerated inward curve. It looks like we’re reclining when we’re standing up, with our abdomen and butt sticking out.
A sloping back can develop if we spend a lot of time sitting, which strains the back muscles. Sitting for long periods can also weaken your abdominal and gluteal muscles. In both cases, the core muscles that stabilize the back are weakened. Other causes may include obesity, injury, neuromuscular conditions, and abnormalities of the spine and vertebrae.
Flat back is a condition in which the normal curve of the lower spine loses some of its curve. The lower back looks straight and we lean forward.
It may be present at birth or may be the result of some types of back surgery or degenerative spinal conditions, including ankylosing spondylitis (inflammatory arthritis), disc degeneration, and compression of the vertebrae. It can make it painful to stand for long periods.
How to correct?
A first step to correct and achieve a correct posture is to become aware of the daily habits that may be affecting the way we stand, sit or lie down. In other words, we will pay attention and be aware of what we are doing in daily activities.
Sometimes the solution is simple:
- Change position in the workplace.
- Change the chair and the way we sit.
- Change the position in which we look at the mobile.
- Buy a new mattress.
- Instead of high heels, we will opt for flats, wedges or other footwear that offers more support.
- Breathe more deeply.
- Practice walking correctly.