Our posture has an effect on everything… From how we’re perceived by those around us, to how our bodies function in our day to day lives. I’m not just talking about the way that you stand, it encompasses the different ways that you sit, walk, run, and move. Your posture can even have an effect on chronic pain, cognitive function, and your emotions! If you’re thinking to yourself, “why have I never heard any of this before?” I had the same thoughts when I was reading through this information. I’m guessing your interest is just as piqued as mine was, so let’s dig right in.

What Is Proper Posture?

            Is it the way we stand? Sit? Lie down? It’s actually the position your body is in through a multitude of different positions. Attaining good posture comes through training your body to retain a position where it puts the least amount of strain on muscles and ligaments during movement or weight bearing activities.

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            Having proper posture is also important for:

~Aligning bones and joints so they can be used properly

~Helping to prevent the wear on joint surfaces, staving off potential arthritis

~Limiting the stress on ligaments holding spinal joints together

~Helping prevent abnormal spinal positions from becoming locked in

~Allowing the body to use less energy by ensuring that the muscles for balance are used efficiently

~Preventing strain and issues stemming from overuse

~Preventing back aches, neck aches, and muscle pain

~Contributing to how confident, strong, and healthy you look [5]

 

What’s The Big Deal About Poor Posture?

             We know that having good posture has many positive benefits, but what’s the problem with letting it go, and having poor posture? Other than the obvious downsides of chronic muscle and joint pain, exaggerated poor posture, muscle imbalances, and looking unhealthy, there are several major negative implications and effects that can be drawn from having poor posture.

            Firstly, there is a direct correlation between how older, healthy adults perform on memory and cognition tests, and how good their posture is. As their posture and mobility decline, so do their overall quality of life and their cognitive function. [2]   Being active does have a positive effect on cognition, so it could be due to the lessened mobility, or even lessened blood flow to the brain due to poor posture, but the fact of the matter is that there is a cognitive decline that seems to go hand in hand with poor posture.

            Secondly, there is the problem that if you have bad posture in one portion of the body it seems to correlate to developing bad posture in others as well. For example, if someone has the posture in their upper spine that has their head sitting farther forward (Forward Head Position where the ears are not on a vertical line with the shoulders, hips, and feet) they seem to lose the ability to properly position their cervical region (hips). This leads to overloading certain stabilizer muscles over time, and to the weakening of other muscles in the same region.  [3].

            On top of this, there is the issue of poor posture affecting our ability to breathe effectively. Those of us with poor cervical and thoracic posture will have a less smooth respiratory function. [4] What does this mean? When we breathe, we rely on a complex system of muscles that extend to our accessory respiratory muscles. When our posture is out of position, the system of muscles that rely on postural stability aren’t able to function as well as they should be. This negatively affects our ability to breathe as well as we could (lessened breath force and capacity).

 

What Causes Poor Posture?

            There is a vast multitude of contributing factors that may lead to poor posture. Everything from the modern work environment, of which many jobs require long days seated at a desk while hunched over a computer, to our choice in footwear (high heels and shoes without sufficient support are not good for posture).

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            Things such as genetics and diseases can cause problems with peoples’ posture, but fortunately these are relatively rare compared to the majority of cases. A sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor to the development of bad posture. Weak core muscles and extended periods in a slouched or hunched-over position can lead to the shortening of musculature on the front of the body along with the elongation of musculature in the back.

            Surprisingly, a recent study found that, in some cases, as high as 50% of school-aged children had postural issues in rural schools in Europe. This was due to many different factors ranging from lack of physical activity to improper central nervous system functioning [5]. While this seems far away, it does showcase the need for proper physical activity and healthy postural training in school-aged children.

           

What Can We Do About It?

          It seems like a daunting problem, but fortunately, once it’s been realized that a postural issue is present, it can be fixed through several different methods. The first of these is very important, and that is the awareness of healthy postural habits, and unhealthy ones that are present in our own lives. If we’re aware of them we can improve them.

            Next, there is physical activity. Implementing an active lifestyle is very important to improving posture, as it activates the muscles used for stability and engages the core. It also gives us a better awareness of our own body position and functionality. At least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week, including at least 2 30-minute strength sessions is a good place to start.

              If you work at a desk, it’s important that you utilize good sitting posture, and take frequent short breaks to get up and move [1]. Maybe suggest the pomodoro method to your employer, which is usually 25 minutes of work, followed by a 5-minute break (your break can be productive as well, just so long as you mix up the position you’re in) [8].

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            There is also talk about the importance of implementing a postural training program in school systems, as part of their gym classes. When school-aged adolescents are involved in a 4-month resistance training and stretching training program designed towards improving postural defects, they exhibited posture improvements, especially in the head and shoulder position areas [9]. Let’s expand this study to implementing a program into our daily lives in the long term. Would we see any improvements? I think so.

            Imagine if everyone was physically active, including a stretching regimen with their activity. Maybe we could eliminate issues stemming from negative postural practices and change the way that people live their lives. Along with the multitude of benefits that stem from an active lifestyle, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t join in and get our activity that our bodies need. It doesn’t take much to start, all that it takes is a commitment… and maybe a helping hand from GoGet.Fit

 

 

References:

1.       Markham Heid. Easy ways to actually improve your posture. Time. http://time.com/5226701/how-to-improve-posture/?utm_source=time.com&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=time-health&utm_content=2019020520pm&eminfo=%7b%22EMAIL%22:%22mZPLnplma0PUfR+o4KhC5AsTP4+fiUil%22,%22BRAND%22:%22TD%22,%22CONTENT%22:%22Newsletter%22,%22UID%22:%22TD_HTE_5DD2989C-2319-45CE-9F1B-125F09605B8A%22,%22SUBID%22:%22117539942%22,%22JOBID%22:%22938922%22,%22NEWSLETTER%22:%22TIME_FOR_HEALTH_TUESDAY%22,%22ZIP%22:%22%22,%22COUNTRY%22:%22CAN%22%7d Published April, 2018. Accessed February 20, 2019.

 

2.      Cohen R, et al. Mobility and upright posture are associated with different aspects of cognition in older adults. Frontiers in aging neuroscience. 2016; 8:257. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2016.00257

 

3.      Yong MS, et al. Correlation between head posture and proprioceptive function in the cervical region. Journal of physical therapy science. 2016; 28(3): 857-860. doi:10.1589/jpts.28.857

 

4.       Han J, et al. Effect of forward head posture on forced vital capacity and respiratory muscle activity. Journal of physical therapy science. 2016; 28(1): 128-131. doi:10.1589/jpts.28.128

 

5.      Radzeviciene L, Kazlauskas A. Posture disorders and their causes in rural schools pupils. Social welfare and disability studies. 2016; N/A: doi:10.21277/sw.v1i6.241

 6.      The Cleveland Clinic. Back health posture. Cleveland Clinic https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/4485-back-health--posture Published December, 2016. Accessed February 20, 2019

 7.       Anne Asher, CPT. What causes poor posture. Very Well Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/posture-fixes-what-are-you-up-against-297037 Published November, 2018. Accessed February 20, 2018

8.      Wikipedia. Pomodoro technique. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique Published February, 2019. Accessed February 23, 2019.

9.      Ruivo R, et al. Effects of a resistance and stretching training program on forward head and protracted shoulder posture in adolescents. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics. 2017; 40(1): 1-10. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2016.10.005

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