Stand up straight! Stop slouching! We've all seen someone slouched over with their head forward and a hunched back, but having good posture does more than help us look fantastic! It's also a big part of our health. So what's the big deal?
Good posture is more than just standing up straight. It consists of ideal alignment of the hips, spinal joints, shoulders, neck and head. When working well, this allows the force of gravity to travel down the body evenly. On the flip side, poor posture is when your spine strays from this ideal alignment. This begins to stress the muscles, bones and ligaments of the spine and causes the brain to work harder to hold you upright. For every centimeter your head moves forward, 2kg of effective weight is added to your head.(1) In practice this causes strain on the muscles, joints, ligaments and nerves of the neck and shoulders. This can also result in the onset of tension like headaches as well as many other aches and pains. Unfortunately, in the long term your spinal joints will age prematurely.
And it's not just muscles and ligaments that are damaged with poor posture. If you walk with your head in front of your body, instead of in line with your shoulders, you can lose up to 30% of your vital lung capacity according to Rene Cailliet M.D; director; department of physical medicine and rehabilitation. University of Southern California (the amount of air you can breathe in). Not the best if you're an athlete or you want to keep fit.
The good news is that good posture is less demanding on the muscles, and has also been linked to increased mental performance, attention, memory and thinking.(2)
What are posture's main benefits?
1. Less work for our joints, muscles and brain
2. Improved mental wellbeing
3. Better strength and flexibility
4. Fewer postural related injuries
1.Kapandji, Physiology of the Joints Volume III, 2008
2.Legostaev, G. N. (1996, Sep-Oct). Changes in mental performance after voluntary relaxation. Human Physiology, 22, (5), 637-638.
Written by Dr Ryan Hislop - Chiropractor Mudgee on the 16th March 2012