Why having a good posture is important
The principles of good posture
Posture may be described as the way you hold yourself and how your spine and joints align themselves relative to each other when you walk, stand, sit or lie down. This isn’t the medical definition of posture but it’s an easy-to-understand explanation that resonates with all.
Our bodies are affected by accidents, injuries and falls all of which—in an instant—can throw our bodies out of alignment and negatively affect our posture, sometimes immediately and sometimes over a period of time, which we often don’t realize right away. Being overweight, wearing ill-fitting footwear, flat feet, poor sitting positions, long, daily commutes on bad roads, poorly designed work areas and carrying heavy weights can all affect our posture.
The problems associated with poor posture are many, but some of those endemic to our society because of our lifestyles (general lack of exercise activity, fashion etc.) are listed below:
- Low Back Pain (LBP) is one of the commonest problems faced by people of all ages. Some causes attributed to LBP are lack of exercise and weak abdominal muscles. Poor seating habits at work and at home and high heels are other common causes. High heels not only hurt the foot, but also contribute to LBP.
- Upper Back Pain (UBP) can be caused by various factors, mostly related to how we sit and work in our daily lives. Most of us in the course of our day often sit in a ‘closed chest’ position. By ‘closed chest’ I mean, our shoulders are rounded and our chest is shortened. The way we slouch over our computers, read a book or newspaper, the way we drive, sit and watch TV all contribute to a ‘closed chest’ position. This leads to a muscle imbalance and ends up causing pain in the long run.
- Large breasted women, often experience upper back pain due to the sheer weight of their breasts and a corresponding lack of strength in the upper back muscles, pulling them into a ‘closed chest’ position. Often, the ‘closing’ happens at a developmental stage when the girls get conscious of their large breasts and subconsciously slouch to prevent them from protruding. Ill-fitting bras also contribute to pain.
- Headaches: Headaches are often caused by the head being positioned being too far forward from its neutral position. The stress this forward positioning puts on the musculature of the neck and shoulder region can cause severe headaches, which are often misconstrued as migraine.
- Stress: When we are stressed, we tend to tense up and that often contributes to poor posture. Interestingly, poor posture can stress the body more, which can further contribute to poor posture.
Relaxation, awareness, regular and appropriate physical exercise and a common sense approach can go a long way in improving posture and avoiding and alleviating problems associated with it.