Understanding the Importance of a Good Posture!

Your body posture is an essential feature of your anatomy and varies from individual to individual. Your spinal cord is what determines the posture of your body and it is essential that you maintain a healthy posture during certain activities to avoid a stressed back. Your posture does not only have to be maintained when you are stationary, but also when you are standing, sitting, walking, lying down or participating in any form of physical activity. There are various ways in which your body posture affects your health, as well as your daily life, which is why it is crucial for you to maintain a healthy body posture. Maintaining a good posture can be very easy if practiced on a regular basis. Not only does it helps you breathe well and aids your blood circulation but a good posture also allows you to portray a more confident image of yourself. Training yourself to adopt and maintain a good posture now will pay your rich dividends in the future.

Understanding the Human Spine

In order to understand a proper posture and a good posture, an elaborate explanation of the spinal anatomy is important. The spinal cord has a natural form which is shaped like an S and it has three significant curves. The curve going inward at your lower back right above the hip is known as the lordosis which is between the cervical and lumbar spines. The part of your spine that slightly bulges outwards is called the kyphosis and it is found between the two shoulder blades at your mid back. There is also another lordosis formation situated on the top of your spine at the neck. The number of curves varies in every individual; if your lordosis curve is particularly deep, then you are said to have a lordotic posture. If your upper back is more stooped or round then you have a kyphotic posture. There is no definite rule about posture with regard to the curvature of a person’s spine. It is only seen as a mark of individuality of a person’s anatomy. So basically the spine has three curves which are; the concave cervical, lumbar cervical and a slight convex thoracic curve. There are two types of muscles known as flexors and extensors, which keep these curves in form. Flexors located in front of the spine are responsible for flexing, which enables them to bend the arch of the lumbar curve. Extensors on the other hand are at the back of the spine and help a person to stand upright and lift objects.

What Exactly is a Good Posture?

Now that we have an understanding of the human spine, we can now discuss about the proper posture and what are the requirements to maintain them. A posture is the form in which you position your body to be upright while you are standing, sitting or even lying down against the pull of gravity.

A good posture is one where your body is able to walk, stand, lie and sit in a position, which puts the least amount of stress on the supporting ligaments and muscles during weight-bearing activities and any movement. For a good posture, one needs to train one’s body to move and function in such a way that there is minimum strain on the spine and body.

What are the Benefits of a Good Posture?

A Few Advantages of a Proper Posture are:

  • A good posture helps achieve a proper alignment of both bones and joints so that the muscles are being used properly.
  • A good posture prevents the chance of having your spine getting fixed in some irregular position.
  • A good posture decreases friction at the joints and their wear and tear, which could otherwise lead to arthritis.
  • A good posture lessens stress over the ligament muscles that are responsible for keeping the joints of the spine intact.
  • A good posture decreases fatigue, as the muscles are kept from being overused and this prevents the body from using more energy.
  • A good posture decreases strain and over-expenditure of energy.
  • A good posture reduces the possibility of back aches or spinal issues.
  • A good posture increases confidence and self esteem in one’s personality.
  • A good posture enhances a person’s appearance.

A Detailed Explanation on Importance & Benefits of Good Posture

The necessity of maintaining a good posture has been mentioned before, but it is crucial to highlight exactly why a good posture is important to maintain. Here are a few reasons explaining why:

A Good Posture Enhances Breathing Capacity

When our backs are slouched or in any irregular position, our lungs are kept in a passive state. During the visit to the doctor one is often advised to keep their back straight and take heavy breaths. This is because the lungs are brought to a tightened position that allows the doctor to hear better through the stethoscope. When experiencing a situation where a person is unable to breathe easily, keeping the back straight helps flex the lungs that aids in breathing.

A Good Posture Boosts Confidence & Appearance

This is a very common and popular aspect of maintain a good posture. It improves one’s confidence and immediately enhances the appearance. A poor posture reflects a poorly conceived impression. Also, a bad posture influences the impression others have of you as well. A good appearance is mostly good posture.

Benefits of a Good Posture in Improving Blood Circulation & Digestion

When standing or sitting in the correct posture, the internal organs of the abdominal area are brought back to their original position and released from any unnecessary stress. This allows the free flow of food through the digestive system. Improper posture often causes indigestion, constipation and even acid formation. The circulatory system is also aided by a good posture as the pushing of blood in the veins is assisted by gravity as well.

A Good Posture Makes You Look Younger & Refreshed

With the improvement in blood flow and proper digestion of food resulting from a good posture, the skin will automatically look more refreshed hence giving you a more youthful appearance.

A Good Posture Assists all Muscles & Joints

A good posture helps in keeping all the muscles and joints in correct alignment with the entire body. This helps in proper utilization of the full capacity of our muscles and also prevents unusual wearing of the joints. This decreases the chances of experiencing back pain and diseases like arthritis. Maintaining a good posture also aids the ligaments that hold the joints together in becoming stronger. This ultimately increases functionality, efficiency, decreased occurrence of fatigue and less consumption of energy

A Good Posture Encourages Positive Mindset

Usually when we are feeling happy or joyful, our posture changes, this is because our posture is affected by our state of mind and vice versa. When a person is feeling low or is in a bad mood, it is advised to keep their back straight as it clears any physical hindrance that might work as a barrier to your thoughts.

Importance of Good Posture in Protecting the Health of the Spinal Cord

Maintaining a correct posture is essential or otherwise a person could ruin the natural form of their spine. An individual who spends long hours standing or working is advised to employ any recommended form of back support. Lack of a proper posture could put a lot of unnecessary stress on the spine, which may even lead to constriction of blood vessels and nerves. A proper posture increases one’s ability to work efficiently and decreases chances of fatigue and postural diseases.

What are the Requirements of Maintaining a Good Posture?

  • Flexible muscles are needed for maintaining a good posture.
  • Properly functioning joints are needed for maintaining a good posture.
  • Strong flexors and extensors are needed for maintaining a good posture.
  • A proper balance of muscles surrounding the spine on both sides is needed for maintaining a good posture.
  • Awareness of proper posture on a regular basis is a must.

A few of the above requirements do eventually weigh out with age and sometimes due to lack of the necessary nutrients. With a common supplementary diet and constant conscious maintenance, a good posture can be achieved overtime.

How to Maintain a Good Posture in Different Positions?

Throughout the day, there are several activities a person undergoes and one must maintain a healthy posture during those usual activities like standing, walking, sitting and even sleeping. These activities take place at any time during the course of the day and often one forgets to maintain a good posture during them. This ultimately leads to a practice of an unhealthy position that can lead to certain discomfort and diseases.

Here are some postures which need to be maintained in different positions:

While standing, a person often tends to slouch or have their back bulge out a in a slightly irregular manner. This can result in back pains, lack of confidence and sometimes headaches. While you are standing, it is important for you to keep the back of your head in alignment with your top neck. The lower portion of your spine should be slightly curved while your shoulders are held back a bit.

While you are in a seated position, it is best to keep your head facing straight ahead and tilted neither up nor down. Keep your shoulders back, right above your hips. Both feet must be kept over the floor and your lower back curved and relaxed.

When you are seated at your office or work space you should again align your shoulders over your hips. Elbows and arms should be maintained at a 90 degrees angle. Feet must again be flat on the floor. It would be best to keep your computer monitor at eye level while the head position should be kept where the ears aligns with the shoulder level.

When you are walking on the street or indoors, your chin must be positioned parallel to the ground. While you are in motion, hit the ground with your heel and push forward. Your stomach as well as buttocks should be in alignment with your spine.

A more rapid movement of the body takes place during running or jogging along with a constant movement in body posture. While running, make sure to keep your head up always and look forward. Elbows must be maintained at 90 degrees while making sure that your arms are kept loose and relaxed. It is essential to lean forward slightly to support the running motion, but also keep you chest aligned with your chin. Hit the ground with the middle portion of your feet and then lift it with your toes.

When you are lying down, the use of a pillow head rest is always advised. A pillow support is also recommended for keeping under your knees. It is important to remember to keep the pillow as a support for your neck. A firm mattress is recommended while sleeping as it balances your spinal curves evenly. When you are sleeping on your side, then keep a second pillow under or in between your knees. A lumbar support for the lower back is also highly recommended in many cases.

What are Causes of Poor Posture?

A poor posture in an individual can be caused by several natural and unnatural issues which vary in everyone. A person could be participating in an activity that involves repetitive lifting of heavy objects or they might just be born with a spinal abnormality. Here are certain general causes of a bad posture:

  • Muscles Imbalances – The muscle strength of both the upper portion and lower portion of the spine must balance each other. Otherwise, if the muscles of the abdominal area are stronger or weaker than those of the chest area, then it leads to an irregularity, which causes bad posture.
  • Heredity – Many people are simply born with a spinal irregularity, such as scoliosis, which is inherited from their parents. Abnormalities or diseases inherited at birth have been a very common cause for improper posture.
  • Repetitive Motions – A very common example nowadays is the “Smartphone Slouch,” which is caused from regular slouching of the neck while using a smart phone. Any activity that involves putting the posture in a tensed or stressed position leads to spinal deformities.
  • Injury – Any form of injury puts the body in an uncomfortable position can lead to improper posture. This is due to habituation of the body in any unnatural posture in order to avoid the pain of injury.

Other than the usual slouching, back aches and strain on the spine; an improper posture can lead to certain diseases as well. Sore muscles are often the reason for diseases like obesity, chronic fatigue syndrome and even head cancer. Continued practice of bad posture can result in a decrease in the knees effusion which causes worn out knees due to friction between the bones. This is sometimes the reason for joint swelling, arthritis and even ligament injuries.

Also Read:

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: November 30, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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