What is posture?
Posture is all about how the human entity interacts with gravity on a mechanical level. The human framework is elegantly designed to dissipate force through the spine, the legs and the pelvis. The mechanics are therefore very important. That’s not to say that our emotions don’t play an important part; whether we are happy, sad, depressed or euphoric can have a substantial effect on our posture, both in the short-and long-term.
The bad news and the good news
First the bad news! Posture is important! Incorrect posture can lead to a host of unwanted effects such as headaches, chronic back pain and breathing problems. The truth is, that we are all different shapes and sizes, male or female, we work in different jobs; all of these affect posture in one way or another. We may have a twist in our spine (scoliosis), a shorter leg on one side, a shorter thumb effecting our piano playing, scar tissue from surgery or host of other contributing factors; each of these also affect our posture in specific ways. The good news is that with some simple changes in your daily routine you can have a real impact on improving your posture and optimizing your health.
Why is ideal posture important?
Good posture facilitates optimal mechanical efficiency. By aligning the joints, bones, soft tissues and myofascial membranes the body is placed in optimal state to meet and interact with its environment. Rounded shoulders (upper crossed pattern), for example, have been reliably linked to an increase in shoulder problems, such as rotator cuff issues. The other side of the posture equation is that, sometimes, certain types of posture in themselves can cause pain!
Here are 5 tips to help improve your posture!
1. When sitting for long periods of time remember to take regular breaks and move around or stretch a little. Stretch your neck, shoulders, waist, pelvis and legs. Drink some water!
Do you have a smart phone? There are several apps that allow you to set a timer to remind you to get up and move. Check out Stand Up! The Work Break Timer (by Raised Square, LLC).
2. When you are standing for long periods of time its really easy to slouch and assume bad postures. Try to find some sort of cue to remind you of your posture - for example, every time the phone rings, ask yourself: 'how am I standing?'.
3. How's your tummy? Yes! Well maintained core muscles can have a huge impact on a range of issues especially posture and pain. The core muscles wrap around the abdomen from the spinal muscles (erector spinae) forward to the abdominal muscles (the internal and external obliques as well as the 'six pack' - rectus abdomens). Basic core exercises such as in yoga or Pilates are quite easy to do at home. Check out these exercises!
4. Positioning your shoulders correctly is another really important way you can correct your posture. Head forwards postures and round shoulders can also be much improved with exercise.
5. Get smart - check out this new Israeli-made posture correcting device. It links to a smart phone app and the device itself sits either between the shoulder blades or in the arch of the lower back (lordosis) and creates a small vibration when you slouch (I met the CEO and tried it out myself - it works!)
If you have an Apple product, I invite you to download my beautiful e-book all about posture and simple home corrective exercises. Click this image for full information.
A cool postural fact:
Did you know that we are taller in the morning than in the evenings? That’s because at night our spinal tendons ‘drink in’ water, absorbing it when not under load and slightly swelling as a result. During the day, gravity, activity (or a lack there of) and emotional issues all combine to make us shorter!
If you have an ache that will not go away, it may be time to see a healthcare professional. At Back into Shape Clinic, Ra'anana, our internationally qualified, multi-disciplinary team of caring osteopaths, physiotherapists and medical massage therapists are on hand to help you. With a range of treatment options and with our special warmth and empathy, we will take care of you and your aching shoulders, book an appointment today.
Wishing you and your family a healthy, pain-free and joyous Shavuot!
Simeon Asher is the former chairman of the Israeli Register of Osteopaths. With over 25 years of experience, internationally celebrated practitioner, teacher and author of 12 books, including the No. 1 Best Seller on Amazon, The Concise Book of Trigger Points, Simeon was voted as one London's top 10 osteopaths in a poll by the London Evening Standard. Simeon opened the Back into Shape Clinic in 2007 in the heart of Ra’anana, Israel to provide a wide range of Osteopathy, Physiotherapy Acupuncture, Massage and IDD therapies. The clinic and its group of specialists believe that ‘the body understands what to do and it is their mission to help guide it’.