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How To Tell if You Have Bad Posture
Have you ever noticed how great children’s posture is?
As we age, bad habits such as slouching and inactivity wreak havoc on our bodies. Not moving enough and slumping while we sit cause muscle fatigue and tension that leads to poor posture becoming your body’s default setting.
Poor posture has been linked to dangerous health consequences including arthritis, depression, and circulation issues.
If you want to improve your posture, it’s important to understand what we mean exactly by “posture” and how this is linked to your overall health
Medical professionals define posture as “the attitude assumed by the body either with support during the course of muscular activity, or as a result of the coordinated action performed by a group of muscles working to maintain the stability.”
Which is a mouthful… but at its simplest, posture is how you hold your body. The reason we focus so much on posture is hinted at in the medical definition - we need to hold our body a certain way in order to move and in order to balance.
There are two types of posture: dynamic and static.
Dynamic posture is how you hold yourself when you are moving, like when you’re walking, running, or bending over to pick up something. Static posture is how you hold yourself when you are not moving, like when you’re sitting still, standing, or sleeping.
Why Do We Need Good Posture?
Having both good dynamic and static posture is essential.
Making sure that you hold your body the right way, whether you are moving or still, can prevent pain, injuries, and other health problems.
Think about how much your neck hurts after sleeping in an uncomfortable position. When you have bad posture, your body is in an uncomfortable position -- even if you don’t always notice it. Over time, this hurts your spine and will lead to pain.
Good vs. Bad Posture
Good posture is about not hurting your body. In order to achieve good posture you have to train your body to stand, walk, sit and lie so as to place the least strain on muscles and ligaments. It’s especially important to maintain good posture while you are moving or performing weight-bearing activities (such as carrying things or working out).
The key to good posture is the position of your spine. Your spine has three natural curves – at your neck, mid back, and low back. Correct posture should maintain these curves, but not
increase them. Generally, for a healthy posture, your earhole should align directly over the middle of your shoulder.
Bad posture is when your spine is out of alignment - for example, if you’re hunched over at your desk in order to get closer to your computer. This rounding of the upper back increases the curve of your spine, straining it.
Possible Causes of Poor Posture
There are other activities or states that can cause you to develop poor posture. Here are some of the most common:
- Being overweight or pregnant
- Carrying heavy items over a long period or repeatedly
- Wearing high heels or low-quality shoes
- Prolonged slouching while using devices (we’re looking at you, tech neck)
- Bending over repeatedly
- Sitting still for long periods (or driving)
Signs of Bad Posture
Symptoms of poor posture can include:
- Poking chin
- Rounded shoulders
- Tilted pelvis
- Bent knees when standing or walking
- Head that either leans forward or backward
- Ongoing back and neck pain
- Body aches and pains
- Muscle fatigue
- Protruding stomach (potbelly)
- Breathing problems
Whether or not you can identify experiencing any symptoms above, an easy way to assess your standing posture is to use a mirror to do a self-evaluation.
Simply stand facing a full-length mirror and ask yourself the following questions:
- Are my shoulders level?
- Is my head straight?
- Does the space between my arms and sides seem equal on both sides?
- Are my hips level?
- Do my kneecaps face straight ahead?
- Are my ankles straight?
You can also ask someone to take a side view picture of you standing. Then check:
- Is my head straight or is it slumping forward or backwards?
- Is my chin parallel to the floor or does it poke forward or down?
- Are my shoulders in line with my ears?
- Is my stomach flat?
- Are my knees straight?
- Is the curve in my lower back slight?
The Path to Better Posture
Now that you know how important it is to hold your body correctly, you can picture the curves of your spine every time you find yourself slouching and move to correct any exaggerations. Even just having this mindfulness around posture will help you on the path to better posture.
There are also other lifestyle adjustments you can make to improve your posture. Besides becoming dedicated to paying attention to the way your body feels, you can also make sure your environment supports your quest for better posture.
Simply switching out your current chair for one designed to all 33 of your vertebrae can make a huge difference. The all33 chair’s unparalleled lumbar support not only stacks your spine, but it also allows it to move naturally, for an overall healthier back.