What is a good posture?
Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or weight-bearing activities. Proper posture,
- Keeps bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly.
- Helps decrease the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in arthritis.
- Decreases the stress on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together.
- Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions.
- Prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy.
- Prevents strain or overuse problems.
- Prevents backache and muscular pain.
- Contributes to a good appearance.
What is a poor posture?
It is the posture that results from certain muscles tightening up or shortening while others lengthen and become weak which often occurs as a result of one’s daily activities. There are different factors which can impact on posture and they include occupational activities and biomechanical factors such as force and repetition. Risk factors for poor posture also include psychosocial factors such as job stress and strain. Workers who have higher job stress are more likely to develop neck and shoulder symptoms.
Studies have implicated poor sitting posture in the development and perpetuation of neck pain syndromes. Sitting for long periods without interruption with poor posture has been shown to cause postural backache. Poor posture can result in spinal and joint dysfunction as a result of muscle changes. Poor posture can result in short term but more likely long term pain or damage
Poor posture can present in several ways:
- It can present with rounded and elevated shoulders and a pushed-forward head position. This position places stress on the spine between the top of the neck and skull and the base of the neck and upper shoulders. There is a reduction in the stability of the shoulder blades resulting in changes to the movement pattern of the upper extremities.
- It can present with a forward tilting of the hips, an increase in the curve of the lumbar spine, and a protruding stomach. This position places stress over both the hip joints and lower back.
Identifying Incorrect Posture
The first step in improving posture is to identify what needs improvement by examining one’s own posture throughout the day, such as sitting in an office chair, carrying objects, or standing in line. At regular intervals during the day, take a moment to make a mental note of posture and back support. This should be done through the normal course of a day to best identify which times and positions tend to result in poor posture. Some people find it easier to ask someone else to observe their posture and make comments or suggestions.
Correct sitting position
Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Your buttocks should touch the back of your chair. All three normal back curves should be present while sitting. A small, rolled-up towel or a lumbar roll can be used to help you maintain the normal curves in your back. Here’s how to find a good sitting position when you’re not using a back support or lumbar roll:
- Sit at the end of your chair and slouch completely.
- Draw yourself up and accentuate the curve of your back as far as possible. Hold for a few seconds.
- Release the position slightly (about 10 degrees). This is a good sitting posture.
- Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips.
- Bend your knees at a right angle. Keep your knees even with or slightly higher than your hips. (use a foot rest or stool if necessary). Your legs should not be crossed.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes.
- At work, adjust your chair height and work station so you can sit up close to your work and tilt it up at you. Rest your elbows and arms on your chair or desk, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- When sitting in a chair that rolls and pivots, don’t twist at the waist while sitting. Instead, turn your whole body.
- When standing up from the sitting position, move to the front of the seat of your chair. Stand up by straightening your legs. Avoid bending forward at your waist. Immediately stretch your back by doing 10 standing backbends.
Correct driving position
- Use a back support (lumbar roll) at the curve of your back. Your knees should be at the same level or higher than your hips.
- Move the seat close to the steering wheel to support the curve of your back. The seat should be close enough to allow
- Your knees to bend and your feet to reach the pedals.
Correct lifting position
- If you must lift objects, do not try to lift objects that are awkward or are heavier than 30 pounds.
- Before you lift a heavy object, make sure you have firm footing.
- To pick up an object that is lower than the level of your waist, keep your back straight and bend at your knees and hips. Do not bend forward at the waist with your knees straight.
- Stand with a wide stance close to the object you are trying to pick up and keep your feet firm on the ground. Tighten your stomach muscles and lift the object using your leg muscles. Straighten your knees in a steady motion. Don’t jerk the object up to your body.
- Stand completely upright without twisting. Always move your feet forward when lifting an object.
- If you are lifting an object from a table, slide it to the edge to the table so that you can hold it close to your body. Bend your knees so that you are close to the object. Use your legs to lift the object and come to a standing position.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects above waist level.
- Hold packages close to your body with your arms bent. Keep your stomach muscles tight. Take small steps and go slowly.
- To lower the object, place your feet as you did to lift, tighten stomach muscles and bend your hips and knees.
Correct sleeping position
Approximately 1/3 of our life is spent lying in bed, on the couch, and on the floor. Like other positions, there is a right way and a wrong way to lie. For individuals suffering from pain, modifications may be necessary to obtain a “pain-free” position or a position which does not aggravate the pain.
Try to sleep in a position which helps you maintain the curve in your back (such as on your back with a pillow under your knees or a lumbar roll under your lower back; or on your side with your knees slightly bent). Do not sleep on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest.
- Johnson , Jeremy. “Bad Posture.” NASM. National Academy of Sports Medicine CPT, Mar 2013
- John Schubbe, Identifying Incorrect Posture. [Online] Available at: <http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/ergonomics/identifying-incorrect-posture> [Accessed 28 December 2016]
Dr. Riafat Mehmood