Healthy posture – described from the side as ears over shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. This posture improves blood flow, helps keep nerve and blood vessels healthy, and supports your muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Benefits of good posture
Decreased risk of injury
Decreased occurrence of back pain
Decreased tension in neck and shoulders
Decreased tension headaches
Improved lung capacity
Improved joint mobility
The big 4
Kyphosis posture – this posture is signified by a rounding of the upper back – usually a result of sitting all day with slumped shoulders while craning the neck forward for extended periods of time. It’s caused by the muscles of the chest (pectoralis major and minor) becoming short and tight and the back muscles (middle and lower trapezius and rhomboids) becoming long and weak. This can lead to neck and back pain and tension headaches. Usually stretching the chest and strengthening the middle back will correct this posture.
2. Flat back posture – this posture is when the natural curves in the spine are flattened leading to forward head. This is not favorable as it takes the shock-absorbing characteristics out of the spine and leads to other problems. When the low back is flat is posteriorly tilts the hips leading to long and weak low back and anterior hip muscles (hip flexors) which need to be strengthened. At the same time, the muscles of the stomach and hamstrings are short and tight and need to be stretched.
3. Swayback posture is characterized by hips that are pushed forward, exaggerated curves in the spine, and the appearance of leaning back when you’re standing. Swayback posture is often caused by muscle weakness and tightness. It is treated by lengthening tight muscles, such as your hip muscles and hamstrings, and strengthening weak muscles, such as your abdominals.
4. Forward head posture - this posture is characterized by a person holding their head out in front of their shoulders with the head tilted back in order to look forward. This is mostly caused by slouching, incorrect desk setup at work, reading in bed and sleeping on your back with a large pillow under your head. This posture is corrected by stretching the chest muscles and posterior neck muscles and strengthening the anterior neck muscles and middle back muscles.
Test your posture by standing with your head, shoulders, buttocks, and heels against a wall. You should be able to comfortably slide a hand between your low back and the wall and your neck and the wall.
If you can’t get your head against the wall without tilting your neck, you have forward head and/or kyphosis posture.
If it feels uncomfortable or unnatural standing against the wall you might have swayback posture.
If there is no space between your hand and your low back you have flat back posture.
Over the next couple of weeks I will address each posture with stretches and exercises to correct them.
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