Most likely everyone remembers somebody telling them when they were younger to ‘sit up straight!’ or ‘stop slouching!’ What is the big deal with slouching when it feels comfortable and is easy to do? And if you aren’t suppose to slouch, what is the optimal position to sit or stand in?This article will discuss proper posturing and provide useful tips for you to avoid injury from poor positioning in sitting, standing and lying.
Posture, by definition, is the position in which our bodies are held when we sit, stand or lie down. Proper or good posturing means that we use the most efficient amount of muscle energy to keep our joints aligned against the downward pull of gravity. The least amount of strain is placed on our body when we are in a good posture. If our joints are not properly aligned in good posture, the force of gravity causes excess stress on parts of your joints as well as the ligaments that support them. Over the years, excess or imbalanced stress on a joint can lead to early stages of osteoarthritis. Your muscles have to use increased force and energy to work against the excess load, which causes the muscles and associated tendons to also become stressed. Other tissues such as fascia, nerves, blood vessels, and even your internal organs can also be affected by the added stress of poor posturing. Even the ability to breathe freely, deeply and maximally expand your lungs is affected by the position of your posture.
Everyone has ‘postural’ muscles that work (usually without you even knowing it!) to keep you upright against gravity. These muscles are constantly firing at low levels to keep you in position while standing or sitting. Examples of these muscles include deep muscles in the front of your neck, deep muscles in your back and abdominal area, and the deep calf muscle called the soleus. TRIAL: Stand still with your feet hip width apart. Even though you are virtually still, if you pay close attention, you will feel a mild sway of your body. You sway, but you don’t fall over. This is due to the way your postural muscles are hard at work to keep you upright! If you now drop your head right down towards your chest, you will experience the effects of gravity on your neck. You will feel the pull at the back of your neck and may even feel your muscles working harder to keep you from falling forward or from swaying more. This is an exaggerated position of poor posturing for your neck, but it demonstrates the increased stress you can feel on your joints and the increased work your muscles have to endure during a period of poor posturing.