why you should care about your posture
by daniel b
We’ve all heard that we need to improve our posture, stand straight, roll the shoulders back, look presentable, poised and confident. However, there is another reason you should improve your posture that isn’t for your appearance: it's for your health. Posture is so important that it can influence almost every aspect of your health and well-being.
The spine has a natural curvature which aids in absorbing shock, flexibility, and stabilising the body. When there's an excessive inward curve of the spine it's referred to as hyperlordosis. The easiest way to check yourself is to lie down on a flat surface and slide your hand under your lower back, and there should be little space to spare; someone with hyperlordosis will have excess space. When they stand, there’ll be a C-like arch of the spine with their abdomen and buttocks sticking out.
But what’s the problem with this, you may ask?
In the short-term, you may experience pain and tiredness due to chronic muscle strain, however, the most damage is done to the joints between the vertebrae. An excessive curve in the lower back can cause degeneration of the joint capsule, arthritis, and acute and chronic pain. Over time, this can cause nerves to be pinched and compressed leading to symptoms such as loss of sensation, loss of bladder and bowel control and muscular weakness, not to mention even more chronic pain.
But what causes hyperlordosis in the lower back? It can be genetic or a result of structural defects such as flat feet, however, other risk factors include obesity, sleeping on your stomach and, to the horror of many, wearing high-heeled shoes!
This also applies to the neck where the most common problem is when there isn't enough curvature.
Your neck should have a wide C-like arch, but due to us staring down at our beguiling phone screens, the majority of us don’t. It's a pain in the neck, literally; muscles are put under extra strain which can cause headaches, neck pain, and vertigo. It can also develop into osteoarthritis which will progressively limit your neck movement and, if left untreated, the spinal cord can become compressed. As a result, people may experience carpal tunnel-like numbness, possible difficulty gripping objects and in extreme cases, partial paralysis!
Many studies have found that sitting for large amounts of time coupled with poor posture can impact the organs of the digestive system. They become unable to function correctly as they are compressed when the person slouches. This slows down digestive processes and impacts your metabolism. Over longer periods of time, your ability to consume and process food may be critically impaired. Poor posture can also lead to varicose veins and impact mental health too by deepening depression and heightening stress.
So, how do you maintain good posture? When walking, look straight ahead and ensure your head is balanced straight above your spine. It’s also imperative that good posture is maintained in everyone’s most popular activity: sitting. Have your back flush with your chair, your knees level with or above your hips and keep your feet flat on the floor.
Remember that your posture is important and that good posture is a sign of good health. And as the posture expert and yoga teacher Carol Krucoff brilliantly said, “Even our language reflects this connection between proper posture and emotional effect – someone weak is called spineless and someone proud has a backbone,”.