Good posture refers to how we relate to the ubiquitous pull of gravity. The fact that most of us will lose a couple of inches in height over a lifetime and that we are nearly always taller after a good night’s rest provides sound proof of the strong forces being exerted on our bodies.
While we cannot escape these gravitational forces, it is possible to consciously change our postures so that we can minimize the potential damaging effects of gravity. Over time, and particularly after the age of 25, poor posture can lead to chronic muscular strain, disc degeneration, osteoarthritis and trapped nerves.
The challenge we face when trying to improve our postures is understanding that by altering our habits we can have positive and preventative long term effects. It is all too common to only make an effort once the proverbial ‘horse has bolted’ i.e. when we are suffering from pain and stiffness.
So What Makes Good Posture?
Good posture can be achieved by maintaining neutral spinal and joint alignment so that there is minimal strain and compression placed on all the muscles and joints in the body.
Below are examples of good and poor postures in sitting and standing positions:
In each picture you will notice that the position of the pelvis is paramount to neutral spinal alignment. While it is difficult to hold a good posture all day, you should strive to hold it as much as possible.
A Note On Chairs
While good posture requires a conscious, active effort, some chairs are worse than others in helping to sit correctly. Deep sofas and low seats are notoriously unsupportive.
Changing posture may seem akward to begin with and often people complain of feeling slightly unbalanced. It’s important to be patient and persevere as your proprioceptors (tiny sensors in your muscles, ligaments and tendons) relay new feedback to your Central Nervous System. With time, the CNS will adjust to a feeling of normality.