Good health is a strange sort of thing. When you have it, you tend not to notice, but when you don’t . . . well nothing seems more important!
Posture is one aspect of your health that is very easy to ignore as it takes time (sometimes years) for incorrect posture to lead to the things that grab our attention – like pain, and the inability to work. So what, exactly, is posture?
The dictionary will tell you that posture is a “stance” or “position” so by definition we all have posture, it’s just that some of our postures are hurtful to our current and future health.
What we call posture
Our “posture” is the position our body is in while we go about our daily lives. How we sit, stand, walk, lift things, sleep – in fact everything we do both while moving and while static. There are two aspects of our physique that have the most immediate and large impact on these actions; our muscle tone and skeletal frame. The tricky thing about these two body systems is that that they are constantly changing based on what we do, or don’t do, with them. In a word, they “adapt” and that adaption can either be good (our posture improves and we are healthier), or bad (our posture causes pain/ lack of function).
The role of your skeleton
Our skeletons are absolutely amazing structures. They provide the framework that all our tissues depend on for both shape and protection. And they are constantly changing. It makes sense that our bones grow as we move through childhood and into our adult selves, but what is less obvious is that they continue to change throughout our lives. Obviously, diet and genetics have parts to play, but so does what we do with our bodies. You will have heard the phrase “move it or lose it” and this is never truer than in relation to healthy posture. Our bones are always either losing mass or gaining it and because they are so fluid can take on alignment that you do not want! There is a wealth of technical information available. One fairly simple example that discusses looking after your bones is this article on the Mayo Clinic site. Link to article.
The role of muscles
Muscles not only help you move, but also hold your skeleton in alignment (and good alignment = good posture). Muscles mirror your skeleton in that they are very adaptable and are constantly changing in size, strength and function based on what you do with them. Their primary role in maintaining correct posture is to support the skeleton in proper alignment. If they become weak, through injury, or lack of use, they cannot properly do their job. There is also the issue of “muscle memory” where they learn a particular position – good or bad – and can be difficult to change. There is a good article over at Lifehacker.com. Link to article.
Lifestyle factors that hurt us
The simple fact is that our lifestyle (ignoring for a moment congenital issues and injury), has an inescapable impact on whether or not our posture is good. For many of us the reality is we live very sedentary lives. By this I mean our jobs and leisure choices often mean we are either sitting or standing for long periods of time both at work and at home. We may still remain “fit” through things like regular gym sessions, but alongside this can be hours in front of computer screens or standing on hard floors. If your posture is poor, you can all too easily fall into a cycle of pain and ill health. Our bodies are quite obviously meant to move and anything that stops movement over extended periods will lead to problems.
Some common myths
Perfect posture The fact is that there is no “perfect” posture. By the time you are reading this, your posture will be a mix of your lifestyle until now, your genetic makeup, and a number of other factors in your past. You can create the best posture possible for yourself, but it will not be the same as the best possible posture for me, or anyone else.
Shoulders back = good posture Actually, holding your shoulders too far back leads to all sorts of postural problems. Not least is the very strong likelihood that you will end up with your head forward and unwanted stress on your neck.
Push through the pain Time and again you see people ‘soldier on’ in the face of pain hoping that it will magically improve, and often, due to the awesome regenerative power of our bodies, things will get better. But if the underlying issues, such as poor posture, are not addressed, it is only a matter of time before the pain returns. Pain is always giving you a message that you need to do something differently. Listen to it.
Making the necessary changes
How much longer do you plan on living in your body? 50 years, 70 years, 100 years – whichever way you call it, your body needs to work properly for a long time and that means you need to keep it healthy. Postural correction is one of the important steps to this health. While our website concentrates on reviewing the best posture correctors available so that you can make informed choices, the use of any device will only be fully successful if you combine it with some strategic muscle strengthening and awareness of what needs to change for you. We strongly suggest that you consult with a professional such as physiotherapist or chiropractor as well as exploring some of the top recommended products that we review.