Posture is not simply how we stand or sit, but rather the functional position of the body during movement, both in daily living activities such as walking, getting into a car and more dynamically as during sport.
Good posture is the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity, without postural muscles, we would simply fall to the ground. So, when postural muscles are not correctly engaged, they become weak and less effective and we slouch. Several factors contribute to poor posture: stress, obesity, pregnancy, abnormally tight muscles, and wearing high-heeled shoes.
The human body is very good at postural short cuts. When faced with the effects of gravity and prolonged periods sitting at a desk, the path of least resistance tends to win, and we compensate using the wrong muscles, causing tension and poor positioning. This can lead to excessive strain on our postural muscles or may even cause them to adaptively relax, if postural muscles are relaxed for long periods, they can become weak. Postural anomalies developed at work or during repetitive tasks, e.g. carrying children and driving can also be transferred to other activities and are unlikely to reposition adequately while sleeping. As our patterns become more entrenched we become vulnerable to injury.
When movement patterns start to use muscles incorrectly, it increases the tendency to move only through specific parts of the spine, and back and neck pain follows. Beyond that, when we slouch, we reduce breathing capacity, may inhibit circulation and also press down on internal organs, hindering digestion.
Good posture helps maintain positions that place the least strain on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement and weight-bearing activities; it:
Helps us keep bones and joints in correct alignment, decreasing the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that can result in degenerative conditions and joint pain
Reduces the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the likelihood of injury
Allows muscles to work more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy and, therefore preventing muscle fatigue
Helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and even back and muscular pain
Although good posture should be natural, it might feel odd at first, the key is to practice all the time. To maintain proper posture, you need to have adequate muscle flexibility and strength, normal joint motion, as well as efficient postural muscles balanced on both sides of the spine. You can make improvements at any age. Stretching and core strengthening exercises with Fit2you can help, as can massage therapy.
There are many things you can do to maintain good posture:
– Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet
– Keep your knees slightly bent and feet about shoulder-width apart
– Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of the body
– Stand straight and tall with your stomach pulled in
– Keep your shoulders relaxed and widen across your collarbone
– Keep your upper back and neck comfortably straight
– Keep your head level, earlobes should be in line with (above) your shoulders and stretch the top of your head toward the ceiling, with chin tucked in slightly
Correcting your posture is also possible and exercise rehabilitation with Fit2you will get you started on the right path. Retraining takes time and good self-awareness and early recognition of how things may be going awry can be of a huge benefit. With practise you can consciously amend bad habits and eventually the correct posture for standing, sitting, and lying down will replace your old posture.
Massage therapy with Fit2you can improve posture allowing the body to reinforce healthy and natural movements. Sports massage encourages the body’s natural healing and will assess restrictions in the muscles and joints and identify inhibited movement patterns. Several muscle groups, including the hamstrings and large back muscles, are critically important in maintaining good posture, but can overwork and become tight. If you have difficulties maintaining the right posture, either because of a physical limitation or because you had become so accustomed to slouching for most of your life, you can still correct it by undergoing massage therapy. Massage relaxes and frees up these and other muscles made sore by bad posture, allowing your body to position itself in its natural, pain-free-posture. Your therapist will target the shortened muscles that are causing your poor posture and prescribe exercises to strengthen inhibited or lengthened muscles. Several treatments will address muscle imbalance and give joints greater freedom; pressure/trigger points will be released so the body stops muscle guarding and holding itself in awkward positions as a reaction to pain. Over a longer period of time shortened muscles will be stretched, allowing restoration of optimal posture and movement patterns allowing you to walk and sit the way that you should for better general well-being and injury prevention. From here, it’s advisable to embark on a regime of regular maintenance massage to keep the muscles aligned and balanced and prevent the situation recurring. Of course, massage therapy can only work to improve your posture if you do your part and practice the right way of standing, sitting and walking at all times.
Pilates by Fit2you works hand in hand with sports massage work to improve movement and posture. The soft tissue techniques of sports massage therapy can ‘lengthen’ tight muscles and restore joint movement, intrinsically linked with the lengthening and balance provided through the specific exercises of Pilates. Pilates reduces tension by improving appropriate support via the core muscles. It stretches and strengthens the body using controlled movements that re-educate the body encouraging ease of movement and postural health, Pilates also builds endurance in the body’s stabilising and postural muscles so that improved posture and movement patterns can be sustained during long bouts of standing, sitting etc.
Good posture will mean the body is aligned properly so every single part will be able to work to its full potential, it also:
– Makes you look thinner and taller
– Increases the strength of your muscles
– Enables you to breathe more easily
– Boosts your blood circulation and improves energy level
If massage and/or Pilates is of interest to you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Jo at Fit2you.
Finally, check out the twitter feed to follow – 10-minute workout to fix bad posture.