You may have associations of posture with strict teachers at school telling you to sit up, or your mother scolding you at the dinner table. Everyone knows that good posture makes you look more presentable and confident, but you may not realize just how crucial it is for your spine health. As spine specialists, we are always thinking about posture. How can we help our patients have the best spine health possible? That’s why we have compiled this list of tips to help you maintain proper posture when you’re sitting, standing, and lying down.
What is Posture?
Your posture is the way you hold your body when you’re standing, sitting, or lying down. Your posture is good when your body parts are properly supported by muscle tension against gravity. If it weren’t for your posture (and the muscles that support it), you would fall to the ground.
We maintain posture without even thinking about it. Our muscles do it for us subconsciously according to how we are used to holding ourselves. Good posture is mainly supported by the back muscles and hamstrings. Ligaments hold the skeleton together while these muscles prevent gravity from pushing us forward. These muscles, known as the postural muscles, also help us maintain balance as we move.
Why is Posture Important?
Posture ensures that when we walk, stand, sit, and lie down, we do so in positions that put less strain on the muscles and ligaments that support our bodies while in movement. Good posture:
- Keeps bones and joints in the right alignment so we use muscles correctly, acting to prevent joint pain;
- Reduces stress on the ligaments of the spine, preventing injury;
- Ensures the muscles work with maximum efficiency to prevent fatigue, and;
- Prevents back pain and muscle strain.
What Happens When You Have Bad Posture?
Poor posture commonly leads to strained muscles. This means that people with poor posture are more prone to injury as a result. Poor posture is often a result of one or a combination of the following factors:
- Abnormally tight muscles,
- Poor flexibility,
- Poor work environment,
- Poor working posture,
- Excessive sitting,
- Weak postural muscles, and
- Wearing high heels.
Can I Correct My Posture?
Yes, you can address issues with your posture. However, if you have had postural problems for a long time, it will most likely take more time to resolve. Fortunately, you can start to correct your posture at this very moment. The first thing you can do is just be aware of your posture. When you are aware of your posture, you can consciously correct it. Over time and with practice, your new, corrected posture will be your default, moving you towards a healthier body position whether you’re sitting, standing, or lying down.
What is Proper Sitting Posture?
You want your feet to be flat on the floor or a foot rest when you sit. In addition, you don’t want to cross your legs, as your ankles need to be in front of your knees. There should be a slight gap between the front of the seat and the back of the knees. Your knees should be level with or below your hips. Make sure to use your backrest to support your mid back; if necessary, include a back support for your low back. Keep your forearms parallel to the ground and your shoulders relaxed. Make sure you are getting up and walking around often.
What is Proper Standing Posture?
The balls of your feet should bear the majority of your weight. In addition, you want your knees slightly bent, and your feet about hips distance apart. Let your arms hang by your sides naturally. Stand with your spine straight and your shoulders pulled backward. Tighten your abs. You head should be level with your shoulders and you shouldn’t push it forward, backward, or sideways. If you need to stand for a long time, shift your weight from one foot or another or from the toes to the heels from time to time.
What is Proper Lying Posture?
The biggest factor to a healthy lying position is your mattress. Make sure to find a mattress where you’re comfortable. While firmer mattresses are generally recommended, many people find that they need a soft mattress for their back pain. Just make sure it is comfortable to you.
In addition, be sure to sleep with a pillow. If your postural problems are due to a poor sleeping position, you can find postural pillows that are specially designed to help you. Sleep position also has an impact. It’s best to sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees. You can also sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs. It’s best to avoid sleeping on your stomach.
We hope these tips help you with your posture. If you’re looking for an orthopedic specialist in Johnstown, contact us at ClinTech Center for Spine Health!