What is good and poor posture?
Good posture is when the muscles of your body align properly. This allows for efficient movement. When your muscles and joints are balanced and supported properly, everyday activities like getting in and out of your car, walking upstairs or bending down to pick things up are done with ease.
Poor posture is when your body is not properly aligned, so the joints in your body (knees, shoulders, spine, hips, etc.) do not fit together properly. This will cause some of your muscles to work harder than others, resulting in a muscle imbalance. It is this imbalance that slowly leads you down the road to poor posture. As your posture continues to deteriorate, joint movements become restricted and the difference between tense and weak muscles places greater stress on your joints. This stress causes pain, stiffness and loss of motion throughout the body.
Postural related problems are increasing and, in most cases, are due to combination of several factors like lack of postural education, negative self-image, sedentary lifestyle, vision problems, job demands, injuries sustained during accidents, poor sleep support, excessive weight gain, poor core stability, poor work stations, etc. We can blame a lot of our headaches, poor digestion, trouble breathing, fatigue, joint pain, sciatica and chronic pain on our hunched backs and imbalanced hips.
How can I start improving my poor posture today?
Remember, poor posture is something that has built up over time, so there is no quick fix. That being said, there are ways you can start improving your posture today, like making sure you have a firm mattress that will support your spine, make an effort to sit and stand taller with your head high and shoulders pulled down and back, adjust the seat in your car so you sit more upright, make adjustments to your workstation (chair, computer screen, keyboard, etc.), get your eyes checked and incorporate a regular exercise program.
As a personal trainer, part of my job is to provide information about posture by observing it during a fitness assessment; however, even without the help of a personal trainer, you can still work on improving your posture on your own by adding strengthening and stretching exercises into your daily routine.
The top postural issues I come across in my personal training assessments are weak core muscles (abdominals, obliques, hips and lower back), rounded shoulders or hunched backs and lower pelvic crossed syndrome, which is an increased curve in the lower back with a forward tilting pelvis.
These are exercises and stretches designed to help with these common postural issues. You can complete them in the privacy of your own home and if done consistently, they will improve your posture over time.
Before beginning any kind of exercise program it is always recommended that you do a quick 5 minute warm up to get your muscles primed for exercising. I suggest performing these exercises and stretches 2-3 times per week. Perform the exercises first and complete 8-12 reps of each one. The complete the stretches and hold them for at least 20 seconds.
As helpful as this program can be for improving your posture, I always recommended you seek the advice from a medical professional (Physiotherapist or Chiropractor) when dealing with any kind of discomfort or pain due to postural issues.
Physiotherapist Philip Ruiz of Back to Basics Physiotherpy analyzed Deelles standing posture.
Is Deelle Standing Tall?
In a perfect posture ears, shoulders knees and hips would all line up and plot perfectly on the plumb line dropped in the photo. While Deelle looks to have perfect posture there are a few adjustments where her alignment could improve. It is impossible to maintain a perfect posture at all times because our bodies are always in motion. The importance is being able to go back to a strong posture when the body is not moving.
In a perfect posture the X marks would fall directly on the plumb line. This is what Philip had to say.
1. Shoulder line and ear plumb line are close
2. Her eyes and ears are in line indicating that her neck is in a neutral position
3. Deelle has a kyphotic-lordotic posture which is an increased C curve in her mid back facing or opening forward and an increased C curve in her low back facing or opening backwards. This type of posture may be due to several imbalances such as low or lax mid back muscles (paraspinals), stiff abdominals (rectus abdominus) stiff or short low back muscles (paraspinals) or hip flexors or long/lax lower abdominals (obliques)
Deelle has a very typical and slight postural Kyphosis. But there are steps one can take to prevent postural kyphosis.
Individuals should make an effort not to slouch when walking, standing or sitting. Engaging in thoracic kyphosis exercises and stretches to strengthen the muscles of the back and abdomen and to keep the spine flexible can help ward off lordosis and kyphosis.