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Maintaining Proper Posture

Many healthcare professionals convey the importance of good posture for overall health. Medical specialist can recognize improper postures caused by poor habits that have been carried out for an extended period of time, an issue which is visible in many adults today. However, only several individuals are aware of how essential and truly necessary good posture can be to maintain overall wellness.

What is Posture?

Posture is the position in which people hold their bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down. A proper posture is medically defined as the correct alignment of the body where each structure is supported with the precise amount of muscle tension against gravity. If people couldn’t control posture and the muscles that uphold the body, we would simply fall to the ground.

Generally, maintaining a normal posture isn’t consciously achieved, but rather, specific groups of muscles are in charge of managing this for us and we don’t even need to think about it. Various muscles, such as the hamstrings and the large back muscles, are fundamental towards maintaining proper posture. While the ligaments function to help hold the skeleton together, when the essential postural muscles of the body are functioning accordingly, they can effectively prevent the forces of gravity from pushing people over forward. Postural muscles also function to maintain an individual’s posture and balance during movement.

blog picture of young business lady grabbing her neck in pain

Why is Proper Posture Important?

Good posture is essential, it helps people stand, walk, sit, and lie in positions where the least amount of strain will be placed on the surrounding supporting muscles, ligaments and other tissues during movement and weight-bearing activities. Correct posture:

  • Helps maintain bones and joints in their natural alignment in order for muscles to be utilized properly, decreasing the abnormal degeneration of joints and other tissues which could lead to joint pain and osteoarthritis.
  • Reduces the amounts of stress placed against the ligaments that hold the spinal joints together, minimizing the risk of injury.
  • Gives muscles the ability to function efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy, preventing muscle fatigue.
  • Helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and even back and muscular pain.

To maintain proper posture, it’s required to have enough muscle flexibility and strength, normal mobility in the spine and other body regions, as well as powerful postural muscles that are balanced on both sides of the body. Additionally, it’s important for individuals to recognize the postural habits they practice at home and in the workplace, to implement methods to correct them, if necessary.

Consequences of Poor Posture

Improper posture can place excessive amounts of strain on the muscles in charge of maintaining posture which can occasionally even cause them to relax when held in specific positions for extended periods of time. For instance, you can generally see this in people who bend forward at the waist in the workplace. In this case, the individual’s postural muscles are more prone to injury and back pain.

Various factors can contribute to poor posture, most commonly: stress; obesity; pregnancy; weak postural muscles; abnormally tight muscles; and high-heeled shoes. Furthermore, decreased flexibility, a poor work environment, incorrect working posture, and unhealthy sitting and standing habits can also contribute to improper body positioning or posture.

Can Posture be Corrected?

Simply stated, yes, posture can be corrected. However, keep in mind that some chronic postural complications may generally take longer to correct than temporary or brief issues, since often, joints and other tissues of the body will adapt to the individual’s posture. Awareness of your own posture and knowing what posture is correct can help you consciously correct yourself. With constant practice and correction, a proper and suitable posture for standing, sitting, and lying down can gradually replace a person’s initially poor posture. This, in turn, will help the individual move towards an improved and healthier body position.

A chiropractor can assist you with proper posture, utilizing chiropractic care treatments, such as spinal adjustments and manipulations, including the use of exercises to strengthen core postural muscles. The doctor of chiropractic can also help you understand which are the best postures during specific activities, helping reduce to reduce the risk of injury.

How to Sit Correctly for Good Posture

  • Keep feet on the floor or on a footrest, if they don’t reach the floor.
  • Avoid crossing your legs. Your ankles should be in front of your knees.
  • Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.
  • The knees should be at or below the level of the hips.
  • Adjust the backrest of the chair to support low and mid back or utilize a back support.
  • Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground.
  • Prevent sitting in the same position for prolonged periods of time.

How to Stand Correctly for Good Posture

  • Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
  • Keep the knees slightly bent.
  • Keep the feet about shoulder width apart.
  • Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of the body.
  • Stand straight and tall with shoulders pulled backward.
  • Tuck in your stomach.
  • Keep the head leveled, the earlobes should be aligned with the shoulders. Avoid pushing it forward, backward, or to the side.
  • Shift your weight from your toes to your heels, or one foot to the other, if you have to stand for a long time.

What is the Proper Lying Position?

  • Find a proper mattress. While a firm mattress is generally recommended, some individuals find that softer mattresses reduce their back pain. Your comfort is fundamental.
  • Sleep with a pillow. Special pillows are available to help postural complications resulting from improper sleeping positions.
  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
  • Sleeping on your side or back can be more helpful for back pain.�If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs.�If you sleep on your back, keep a pillow under your knees.
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The information herein on "Posture" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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