Have you ever wondered why your neck always hurts? What about why there is that nagging discomfort in your upper and lower back? How about the nagging pain in your shoulders, hips, or even feet? Well, all of those aches and pains could be down to one very important aspect of your life: your posture. Yes, that’s right. For those of you who have never considered your posture important, or who haven’t really given the way you sit, stand, or walk much thought, we’re giving you some advice: it’s time to take notice. Your posture affects almost everything about your body, from muscle health through to bone structure and overall mobility. It’s no wonder, then, that today’s blog is all about posture. So, get ready, sit up straight, and start diving into why your posture matters.
Having a good posture is important for more than self-confidence. Sure, it’s great to enter a room like Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, but walking balanced and upright means a lot more. For one thing, a good posture directly affects the health and suppleness of our muscles. Practicing good posture ensures that our muscles remain strong and mobile, thereby allowing them to offer much-needed support to our skeletal structure. Back, neck, and hip pain is often result of uneven, unbalanced posture. Why? Because the muscles in those areas are not strong, supple, or mobile enough to step-up to the plate. They can only function correctly if good posture is enforced.
We can picture you adjusting yourself in your seat, now. And that’s good! Far too many of us forget that the small, daily habits we have actually effect our posture the most. From sitting incorrectly in a desk chair, through to carrying uneven amounts of weight and overcompensating on one side when driving, we’re all guilty of practicing bad posture throughout the day. The good news is, though, we now know there is room for improvement!
First things first, though: how do we know if our posture is off? Well, the key to knowing if your posture isn’t quite right is to listen to your body. Pay close attention to the little things you do. For example, do you always carry your bag on one side of your body and then lead away from the weight in order to balance? If so, you’re practicing incorrect posture: your spine curves unnaturally in order to accommodate the uneven weight. Another example is this: when you drive, do you lean your elbow into the driver’s door? If so, your spine is once again curving unnaturally. How about when you walk? Do you lean very far forward or do you tend to curve your lower back/coccyx out? If so, your walk is off and your incorrect posture could cause back pain down the road. All three of these examples are just a tiny few compared to the various ways in which incorrect posture can rear its ugly head in your daily activities. For this reason, it’s extremely important to be aware and to get the right advice immediately.
Always remind yourself of your posture and, where applicable, aim to improve it. For example, you could start sleeping with a pillow between your legs so as to align your spine. You could also start sitting upright in your chair at work, lift the height of your computer monitor, and refrain from using laptops where possible. Remember to get up regularly and go for a walk, too! Furthermore, when you’re standing, make sure you’re upright with your spine aligned. Ensure that your shoulders aren’t hunched and that your weight is spread evenly across your legs. The same advice is true for when you walk: distribute weight evenly and ensure that your spine is always supported. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear, too, as your shoes can directly affect your posture and, therefore, your health.
Having said all that, we also know that it can be tricky to self-diagnose potential posture issues. Oftentimes, habits are formed over years and years, and that’s exactly why breaking them, or even recognizing their damaging effects, can be very difficult. However, if you’re serious about tackling your posture – whether to ensure prolonged health and a pain free life, or to eradicate existing pain – it’s imperative that you see a physical therapist. Professional, hands-on physical therapy is the safest, most effective way of tackling posture-related issues. Not only will a physical therapist diagnose and treat the root cause of the problem, thereby eradicating the pain, but he/she will also give you tailor-made exercises and invaluable advice in order to equip you with the tools to maintain a pain-free life filled with great posture!
At the end of the day, just as a lifetime of bad habits can lead to injury, so too can the practice of correct, targeted habits improve your posture and thereby undo the damage. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the improvement of your posture doesn’t hinge on a large, extreme gesture: it takes the accumulative effects of daily, conscious changes to alter bad posture. Listen to your body and make the changes needed to move forward into a pain-free, long, mobile life.
We understand that bad posture has the potential to hinder mobility and active lifestyles. We also know that it may well lead to serious injury or prolonged suffering… and we really don’t want that for you. If you’re not sure whether you have bad posture and you just want some answers in order to avoid negative repercussions, or whether you’re suffering from pain related to bad posture, then we invite you to contact one of our friendly, knowledgeable physical therapists today. Make the change needed to create positive habits that will last a lifetime. Good posture paves the way for a healthful, pain-free life, and we cannot wait to give you the foundation you need to start implementing them correctly and safely. Call us today – we look forward to hearing from you!
John Salva, PT
"We help people in pain get back to the things they want without relying on surgery or painkillers, even if past treatments have failed."