Pick Your Posture
By Dr. Marcello Sarrica, DPT, OCS, COMT, CSCS, Sarrica Physical Therapy & Wellness
STAND UP STRAIGHT! I bet when you were young your mother would always tell you to stop slouching and to fix your posture.
But what’s the importance of maintaining good posture?
The reasons for maintaining good posture go beyond your appearance. Proper body alignment, or good posture, can help prevent excess strain on your joints, muscles, and spine alleviating pain and reducing the likelihood of injury. Having good posture can boost your confidence and mood. Changing your posture may take some time, but it’s never too late to reap the health benefits of improved posture. Improving posture can even help to eliminate experiencing pain from other health conditions, like sciatica. Another potential reprieve from the pain that stems from the good posture vs poor posture debate? Growing pains.
So what is posture?
Posture is how you hold your body whether you’re standing, sitting, lying down, or even moving around. It refers to the relative position of your muscles, bones, and other supporting body structures. Many people don’t think of their posture, but they should. This is true when people are active, but also when they take part in activities like working, shopping, sitting and standing. Posture is important when laying down, too.
Maintaining Good Posture vs Poor Posture
Ideally, you want your body to be aligned and balanced in a way that your body structures are properly supported and protected. Proper posture provides you with comfort and stability. It will reduce the stress and strain on your muscles, joints and spine, and therefore, decreases the likelihood of pain and injury. Having good posture is about more than sitting up straight. It makes you comfortable and capable of participating in all of your favorites activities and hobbies.
Poor posture is when the natural spine curves are either flattened or exaggerated. This ultimately puts more strain on your body and will cause increased wear and tear on the spine. It can show up in a variety of forms. Poor posture may be due to numerous reasons, such as weak muscles, muscle imbalances, lack of flexibility, or simply bad habits. Those with poor posture are more likely to experience other injuries, too. This is especially true for people that participate in strenuous activities or hobbies.
Poor posture may start with issues in the head and neck, most often from bad sitting habits. It has a ripple effect down your body. Problems with posture can also result from foot issues, such as flatfeet, and cause a change in the kinetic forces running through your body. Poor posture takes time to learn, but it will also take time to improve. You may feel a difference, but you won’t see lasting results until you commit to change.
Health Effects of Poor Posture
Poor posture is more than a slouched appearance. Being out of alignment puts greater pressure on your body and increases the wear and tear on your joints and spine. To alleviate this pain, focus on building strength throughout your body. Not only does this make you feel better, but it helps to remind you why good posture is essential.
For example, slouching, in which your head is tilted forward your back is rounded, increases the weight your spine must bear. Changing posture – even in small ways – is very helpful, and the more changes you implement, the better off you’ll be.
Some signs and symptoms associated with poor posture include:
- Back and neck pain
- Knee, hip and foot pain
- Shoulder pain and impingement
- Jaw pain
- Breathing problems
Maintaining Good Posture
If you’re unsure whether you have proper posture or are suffering from back and/or neck pain, you can schedule a physical therapy appointment at Sarrica Physical Therapy & Wellness and other quality clinics through the BetterPT app or BetterPT clinic locator tool. A quality physical therapy clinic will focus on the body’s structural support systems, also known as “the core”. They will assess your posture, identify the root causes of your postural problems, and guide you in identifying the corrective exercises that will improve your posture and ease your pain.
A physical therapist can (and will) highlight the differences between good posture vs poor posture. Knowing these differences helps people like you make better choices and ensure that you end up with the best posture possible. Listen to your physical therapy professional, and you’ll see – and feel – the changes quickly.
Some physical therapy professionals even recommend using a posture brace to ‘remind’ people to stay focused. If you’re asking yourself “is it too late to fix my posture”, the answer is a resounding no. It’s never too late to make positive health changes. Physical therapy to fix posture is more common than you might think, so why wait any longer?
You can now see a physical therapist for postural deficits without needing a doctor’s prescription. Don’t wait to get treated until you feel immense discomfort. Pain in the hips, legs, arms, back, and even the neck may all be due to poor posture Be proactive and get BETTER today!
Dr. Marcello Sarrica received his doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2006 from Long Island University. Dr. Marcello Sarrica was awarded the department’s highest honor of “clinical excellence”.