What is Good or Bad Posture?
Has anyone ever told you that your posture is great? That you stand tall with your head up and facing the world?
Has anyone ever told you that your posture isn’t so good? That your shoulders appear to roll inward and your upper back bends forward?
These days more than in the past, the probability is that you have been told your posture is bad, instead of good. The problem is that just trying to stand up straight and lift your head isn’t the only thing that needs to be done to have good posture.
First let’s talk about why posture is so important.
Your body’s ability to deal with gravity, the strongest force we know to exist, is reflected in how we stand, sit, or move. Without the proper activation of the postural muscles in the body, the body not only strains to support its own weight, but also every movement becomes inefficient and for anyone, this is a huge problem.
The reason for the most part is because when our arms and legs have to do most of the work instead of the postural muscles of the body, sooner or later they begin to suffer dysfunction and move in ways that cause pain and even acute or chronic injury.
So now you may be wondering what these postural muscles are. Well a lot of people talk about “the core”. They refer to areas like your rectus abdominus (six-pack) and recommend lots of abdominal exercise, lower back exercise, and gluteal exercises. But the truth is that the real “core” of the body consists of the small muscles that connect each vertebrae in our spine to stabilize it, a lot like the roots of a tree, these are called multifidi. Then from there, muscles such as the transverse abdominus, lower abdominal muscles (more important for posture than upper abdominals), gluteals, and oblique muscles of the torso provide the rest of the stability and powerful movements of the pelvis which is basically the center of gravity and strength for our bodies.
Unfortunately, doing abdominal crunches and other common exercises DO NOT strengthen the deep muscles of the core. Instead it takes a very knowledgeable specialist to know how to create true activation of those structures.
If these muscles are not used correctly and consistently for movement, the pelvis tips forward and the body loses ability to support its weight and from there everything will commonly shift forward, especially the head, putting the weight on the toes instead of the heels.
When someone comes to our clinics saying they have a neck, back, or knee problem, the reality is they have a head and pelvis problem. The head really exerts a lot of stress on the body when it isn’t supported directly over the spine and pelvis.
From the time we are babies, our heads move forward following where the eyes point and from that time on, everything we do in our lives is in front of our body. So naturally the head will tend to stay there as we go about our lives.
What about the head?
The head seems small compared to the rest of the body, but on average it weighs about 8-10 lbs, and when it is suspended out in front of the body, the weight can double or triple (or more) based on the distance between the ear and the spine and pelvis. Imagine how this affects every structure of our bodies all the way down to the bottoms of our feet and toes!
Certainly it’s a constant struggle and it catches up to us in the form of pain and injury sooner or later. So what can you do to get good posture? Well as we post future articles, we will spend time talking about different conditions of the body and how gravity and the posture we use can cause, prevent, or resolve those problems. Posture is indeed the key!
Author: Arik Warren Gohl
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