Have you ever had your momma tell you to stand up straight and fix your posture? Your mom was right. Good posture not only makes a statement about you in life, but can be directly linked to your health.
So what's your posture like? Good, bad or just plain ugly? First we need to know what it is.
What is Posture?
Posture is defined by the American Chriopractic Association as the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down.
Basically "what you see and what you do is what you get", or an outward expression of how an individual carries oneself throughout life. Without knowing what to compare it to, posture can be good, bad or just plain ugly! Just depends on what you're comparing it to.
Let's take a look at a common posture stance we see every day.
At first glance you might say that this woman’t posture is pretty normal. Sadly, I have to agree. I see this "normal" looking posture everywhere I go. Unfortunately, photo demonstrates very BAD POSTURE.
As a Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist, all I see here is a body crying out for help! This woman is at risk of injury, and may be suffering chronic/acute musculoskeletal or joint pain in the body.
There are misalignments throughout her body. In every instance you can be sure that the ankles, knees, hips and shoulders are all asymmetrical to one another, causing the pelvis to shift and placing strain on the curvatures of the spine. Can you imagine taking that posture out for a run? OUCH!
She is susceptible to neck, shoulder, back, hip, knee and/or ankle pain. Left unattended, she may experience a variety of compounding issues such as arthritis, sciatica, digestive problems, TMJ, carpal tunnel, ringing in the ear, tension, lymphatic and circulatory problems just to name a few. [Want to check you posture from the comfort of your own home? Download our FREE POSTURE ASSESSMENT GUIDE]
So if that's BAD posture, I'm sure you're asking, "What is Good Posture?"
What is Good Posture?
Good Posture defined in the Physical Therapy Dictionary is “the state of muscular and skeletal balance which protects the supporting structures of the body against injury or progressive deformity irrespective of the attitude in which these structures are working or resting“.
The ACA aslo states:
Good posture is the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity.
In my field of practice, good posture occurs when the body closely adheres to it’s “blue-print design” when standing still. This means that all of the body parts are balanced front to back, side-to-side and the with three natural curves of the spine present.
This allows the body to perform properly and PAIN - FREE for functional movements including activities of daily living and for health and fitness activities.
When viewing the body from the front we should see the head sitting directly centered between the shoulders and all four of the major load joints aligned at ninety degree angles to one another. From the side view, it should be possible to draw a straight line from the earlobe, through the shoulder, hip, knee, and into the middle of the ankle.
You can see the skeleton’s ankles, knees, hips and shoulder joints are all aligned in the front and back views with the head centered directly atop of the spine and the weight load is equal from one foot to the other. The spinal column can maintain it’s three natural curves and allows for the pelvis to sit neutral where the front and back of the pelvic bones are in the same plane.
Is your Posture Good, Bad or Just Plain Ugly?
You can have really ugly posture for a very long time before pain strikes. In fact, the body has an amazing ability to take heaps of abuse for really long periods of time before chronic pain or an acute injury occurs. I believe this is the primary reason it takes people by surprise.
Pain is a funny thing. It can hit you really at any age, however it seems to catch up with us as we age because we get very set in our patterns of daily life.
Once chronic pain starts and you make the connection between posture, pain and performance, most ask "how did this happen"? In my opinion, it really comes down to a chicken vs egg scenario.
Postural deviations can occur from a variety of reasons as simple as a prolonged illness or injury resulting in compensations and dysfunctions, poor postural habits, repetitive stress, lack of motor skill experience, repetitive stress, technology use and sedentary lifestyles just to name a few. The body adapts to the stimulus you provide it with and really won't give you more than that. As a result, these imbalances and deviations result in musculoskeletal and/or joint pain over time, and once the pain begins, problems can escalate quickly.
Nonetheless, it's important to know that you CAN improve your posture, recover from injury and get out of pain. Start to learn about how your body is supposed to work, and connect with certified professionals who are trained to analyze your current posture and provide the correct stimulus and demand for your body to help it return back to it's blue-print design.
Have questions? Please let us know. Remember, we're in this together, and I am here to help!
Image Sources: Shutterstock
Head Shot Courtesy: Ruby and Roxy Photography
Deb Preachuk is a Chronic Pain Pain Relief, Posture Restoration and Athletic Performance Enhancement pro specializing in corrective exercise, applied biomechanics, STOTT Pilates and functional movement patterns.
Founder of Pain Free Posture MN, Deb helps real people transform real-world chronic pain challenges into achievable results. Deb infuses her teaching with an honest, open and down-to-earth mix of chronic pain relief therapeutic modalities training techniques to make the concepts of pain relief and body/mind transformation accessible and achievable!