Here are some benefits of having a good posture:
- Efficient function of your internal organs (i.e., rounded shoulders can affect the function of lungs and therefore breathing capacity due to constriction in the chest cage)
- Efficient function of your limbs (i.e., forward-facing feet and legs while running)
- Improves exercise performance (i.e., tight hamstrings can affect your ability to properly perform a squat or deadlift due an inability to arch the lower back)
- Reduces back pain
- Boosts metabolism
- Improves feelings with regard to your body
- Enhances self-esteem
- Enhances sense of self-confidence and how confident you look to others
- Enhances sense of attractiveness
- Enhances ease of movement
- Optimizes breathing
- Keeps your blood pressure in check
- Improves core strength
- Increases testosterone levels
- Lowers cortisol levels
- Lowers inhibitions
- Reduces joint stress
- Improves balance between your muscle strength and flexibility
- Decreases risk of falls
- Reduces headache frequency
- Optimizes movement efficiency
Here are some self-check methods to assess your posture for any deviations from good posture:
- Mirror assessment. Stand sideways to a full-length mirror. Close your eyes, bend forward, then stand up quickly and gaze at the mirror to check your posture. Are your shoulders slumped? Is your head tilted forward? Does your chest have the appearance of being caved in as if someone just punched you in the sternum? Is your lower back flat or excessively arched? Ideally, your posture would be considered good if your shoulders are pulled back, your head is upright, your chest is expanded, and your lower back is in a neutral position (i.e., not flat but not excessively arched either). Now turn and face directly to the mirror and check your posture for symmetry. Is your head tilted to one side? Are your shoulders misaligned? Are your hips misaligned? Are your knees lined up? Your head should not be tilted to the side, shoulders and hips should be aligned and knees should be lined up.
- Wall assessment. Stand with your back against a wall. Do your heels, calves, butt, upper back, and head touch the wall? If not, there may be some postural deviation in your body.
- Hanging string with weight. Find a piece of string at least six feet in length and attach a small object to one end. Fasten the other end of the string to a ceiling in front of your mirror. Now stand directly behind the string so that it bisects your body and look at your image in the mirror. The string is a reference line for you to compare the symmetrical appearance of your shoulders, hips, and knees.
For your information, here are some postural misalignment terms and their possible causes:
- Lordosis--excessive anterior pelvic tilt (i.e., excessive lumbar arch)
- Kyphosis--excessive anterior-posterior spinal curvature (i.e., hunched upper back)
- Flat back--posterior pelvic tilt (i.e., insignificant lumbar arch)
Possible cause(s): tight hamstrings, abdominals, and/or hip extensors and weak lumbar spinal erectors and/or hip flexors
- Forward head--excessive neck protrusion (i.e., jutting neck)
You don't have to live with aches and pains in your body as a result of misaligned joints from poor posture. Physical therapy, chiropractic care as well as the services of a good personal trainer can rectify any musculoskeletal imbalances within your body. A knowledgeable personal trainer having a sound background of anatomy, kinesiology and biomechanics can strengthen and stretch the appropriate muscles in order to rebalance and reduce postural deviations. Having good alignment will enable you to live a pain-free, mobile and functional life.
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."