What is Poor Posture | Part 2

Posture | Part 2


Here I briefly list the various factors that can result in poor posture.

In Part 1 of the Posture Blog, I addressed how having weakness in your core and spinal erector muscles limits ability to maintain proper healthy postural alignment.

Many of us know we're not perfectly symmetrical. Asymmetries can be caused by structural imbalances (e.g. scoliosis), an isolated injury, or by repetitive movement injuries (from industrial labor or sports such as tennis or golf). To use golf as an example... Your downswing will always be on the same side unless you consciously practice swinging the club on the right and left. The longer you continue the sport, or movement, the more exaggerated the asymmetries can result if you don't address them.

This repetitive movement pattern has the potential to result in discomfort, pain and possible injury, as there's an uneven load placed upon the body. Slouching and poor posture also lead to imbalances in our core, hip and shoulder structures, and inhibit our ability to sit correctly and, therefore, affect how we move, live and feel.
Due to the fact that numerous articles have been written addressing the negative impact sitting has on our posture and overall body positioning and mechanics, it's imperative that we be more aware of HOW we sit. Many people complain of pain or tightness in their neck, shoulders, upper and/or lower back. This is caused by the rounding forward of the shoulders and the collapsing of the spine in a curved position, which results in the head moving forward of the spine. The more severe the slouch, the more forward the skull will be.

This increases tightness in the muscles that connect our head to our spine, and that is why we experience upper trapezius (muscle on top of the shoulders) discomfort. That muscle becomes long and tight from the increased length of the tissue. This is why I address the proper positioning of your monitor(s) and keyboard in relation to your postural positioning. Here's how I suggest my clients approach this...

Sit at your desk and look directly at your monitor, making sure your eye level is at the center of your screen, then assess - are you slouching? Next, close your eyes and sit in the best neutral spine position you can assume. The best place to start is to sit directly on top of your SITS bones. These are the bony landmarks in each of your butt cheeks. When you open your eyes are they still in line with the center of your screen or are they now higher up? If they are higher, you need to adjust the level of the screen so that it coincides with the best possible posture for your body. If the center of the screen is too low, it will inevitably force you to sit in a slouched position. You may also need to adjust the level of your seat or keyboard.

A few other factors that contribute to poor postural habits are obesity, stress, decreased flexibility and pregnancy. 
Excess weight, especially around the mid-section, can weaken the core structure and hence minimize the ability to engage the core to support the trunk and spine. 
Stress is often manifested in our upper trapezius musculature. When we are stressed out, the shoulders are pulled upwards towards the ears by this muscle. This causes excess tension in the neck and can pull the head forward and cause rounding of the shoulders and spine.

Decreased flexibility in your hamstrings and/or hip flexors can cause the pelvis to be pulled into a tucked position. This causes the lumbar spine to collapse into a rounded posture and places more load on the spinal joints and sacrum, compromising the integrity of the entire structure. This is why it's very important to stretch your hamstrings and hip flexors if you spend a significant amount of time in a seated position.

Pregnancy has a significant effect on postural alignment, and it can be more impactful as the pregnancy continues. While pregnancy is a seperate topic entirely, I thought it pertinent to address it because of its relevancy to posture. As the fetus continues to grow in size, the increase in weight places additional stress and load on the spinal structure, and causes the abdominal musculature to expand in length, making it harder to engage to support the trunk.


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