PT Tips: The Good Posture Challenge

Posted on Apr 22, 2011

Posted in: PT Tips

What is posture?

Posture refers to the alignment of your body with respect to gravity and is an important part of everyday life. It involves holding your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture requires that you distribute the force of gravity through your whole body so no one structure is overstressed. Contrary to popular belief, a good posture does not mean keeping your spine totally straight.

What is bad posture?

Many people experience poor posture when sitting in front of a computer or while driving a car. It is easy to allow your head and neck to protrude forward as you focus on the activity in front of you. Because the body follows the head, the thoracic and lumbar spine tends to round forward as well. When this occurs, the weight of the head and upper body is no longer balanced over the spinal column. It is instead supported by increased muscular energy and stretching spinal ligaments. This can lead to fatigue and pain in the back and neck. Over the years, bad posture can reduce functioning of your joints and muscles or even cause chronic pain.

How can I achieve good posture?

Being aware of your posture is the first step in reducing the stress on your back, neck and spine. Here are three easy steps to help you achieve good posture while sitting:

When your posture is correct, your muscles, organs, joints and bones are all where they’re supposed to be. Good posture also allows the arteries to stay open to provide an adequate blood supply to the brain.

Exercises that help.

Another way to increase awareness of your posture is to begin doing some simple core strengthening exercises demonstrated below from Peak Performance Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine.

Why is bad posture so common?

In my opinion it is no surprise that bad posture is such a common occurrence. In today’s world adults are sitting in front of computers at work all day, (possibly sitting with a laptop computer on our lap again at night), kids are hunched over playing hand held electronic games or watching television and all of us are driving cars everywhere we go. All of these things are being done with poor posture.

While some of this can be helped by ergonomic work stations and conscious effort on proper body placement, what could help even more is getting off the couch, getting away from the computers and electronic games and getting some exercise instead.

The good posture challenge

Justin Lahart wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal which outlined how and possibly why Americans have increased the amount of time spent watching tv.

Here’s and idea: For one week keep track of how much time you spend in front of the tv, on the computer and on the phone. I bet you will be surprised to find that it is much greater than you anticipated. Next pick a weekend and try to spend one day computer and tv-free. Let us know how difficult it was. What did you do instead? Your comments could motivate others to take action as well.