Posture is how we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down. A healthy posture is the correct alignment of the body supported by the right amount of muscle tension. Our everyday movements and activities affect the body’s alignment. A postural imbalance can impact the body’s health in various ways. It can cause:
- General soreness
- Back pain
- Muscular pain
- Digestive problems
- Poor self-esteem
Unhealthy posture can increase the risk of spinal dysfunction, joint degeneration, stress joints, and muscles, resulting in permanent damage if left untreated. The best way to prevent postural imbalances is to be aware of the causes utilize proper ergonomic and movement strategies that can help avoid these problems. As the everyday bad habits, behaviors, and activities are understood, it is much easier to prevent and correct them.
Everyday Posture Is Important
Specific muscles maintain the body’s posture, so we don’t have to think about it and constantly adjust. Muscle groups, including the hamstrings and large back muscles, are essential in maintaining healthy positions. When the muscles function correctly, the postural muscles prevent gravity from pushing the body forward. Postural muscles also maintain balance when moving. A healthy posture reduces strain on the supporting muscles and ligaments during everyday movement and weight-bearing activities. Engaging in healthy posture helps:
- Keep the bones and joints in correct alignment so that the muscles function correctly.
- Decrease the abnormal wearing of joints resulting in degenerative arthritis and joint pain.
- Reduce the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, preventing injury.
- Allow muscles to work more efficiently.
- The body exert less energy.
- Prevent muscle fatigue and muscle pain.
- Prevent muscle strain and overuse disorders.
Unhealthy posture results when the body sits or stands with the spine in an abnormal position. When an individual practices unhealthy posture over a long period, it progressively leads to muscles and ligaments becoming elongated and weak, while others become short and tight. This creates a physical imbalance that leads to postural abnormalities like:
- Rounded shoulders
- Forward head posture
- Thoracic kyphosis or hunched back
- Lumbar lordosis
- Limited mobility
- Increases the risk of injury
- Individuals can begin to develop unhealthy habits that negatively impact their posture, like walking with their head looking towards the ground. This shifts the body out of alignment.
Sitting For Too Long
- Spending too much time sitting even with the correct posture will impact the spine and muscles. It weakens the muscles, ligaments, and abdominals.
- Carrying extra weight can force the spine into an awkward position. This is true for individuals with pot bellies, as it pulls the lower back forward, increasing the risk of lumbar lordosis.
- If the spine does not have access to the vitamins and nutrients it needs, it can struggle to maintain its strength and flexibility. It is also more difficult for the body to repair damage to the spine’s muscles and ligaments.
Clothing and Footwear
- Clothing and footwear can impact posture.
- High heels, poor-fitting shoes, saggy jeans, large belts, heavy jackets, and other items can force the spine into an unnatural position.
- These are fine to wear for short periods but avoid wearing them day in and day out.
Chiropractors specialize in issues affecting the spine, especially posture. They can:
- Perform a postural examination involving a complete assessment of the musculoskeletal system to identify any joint misalignments and issues that affect soft tissue.
- Perform adjustments of misaligned joints using various techniques.
- Recommend stretches to loosen/lengthen tight muscles and strengthen weak ones, leading to improvements. A chiropractor will develop an effective stretching regimen to target the correct muscles.
- Recommend nutritional advice, exercise, and everyday habit adjustments.
Individuals who sit for extended periods, don’t exercise and don’t watch their diet can experience insulin resistance. Insulin resistance happens when insulin cannot transport excess blood sugar out of the blood and into the muscles. One study found that women who sat for eight hours a day had a higher chance of developing diabetes. Individuals with diabetes tend to have more fat within their bodies, particularly visceral fat, increasing insulin resistance potential. Individuals with diabetes experience a faster loss of muscle mass as they age, further intensifying symptoms and deterioration of body composition.
Feldman, Anatol G. “The Relationship Between Postural and Movement Stability.” Advances in experimental medicine and biology vol. 957 (2016): 105-120. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-47313-0_6
Jaromi, Melinda et al. “Treatment and ergonomics training of work-related lower back pain and body posture problems for nurses.” Journal of clinical nursing vol. 21,11-12 (2012): 1776-84. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2012.04089.x
Jung, Suk Hwa et al. “Visceral Fat Mass Has Stronger Associations with Diabetes and Prediabetes than Other Anthropometric Obesity Indicators among Korean Adults.” Yonsei medical journal vol. 57,3 (2016): 674-80. doi:10.3349/ymj.2016.57.3.674
Pope, Malcolm H et al. “Spine ergonomics.” Annual review of biomedical engineering vol. 4 (2002): 49-68. doi:10.1146/annurev.bioeng.4.092101.122107
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