By: Ben Stafford
Did your parents ever run their knuckles along your spine, poke you in between the shoulder blades, or tell you to straighten up?
What they were pointing at was your posture – how you hold your body while sitting, walking, and even exercising. Back then good posture was considered a sign of beauty and strength. Nowadays, it should be considered a critical element of our health – all of our work at computers and on devices has worsened our posture, and drastically.
Other than aesthetics, why are professionals like chiropractors, massage therapists and physiotherapists so concerned about bad posture?
Why is bad posture bad?
As it turns out, how you hold your body has a HUGE impact on your well-being. The medical world is seeing a massive increase in lower back pain, joint issues and muscle soreness – and it’s all tied back to our alignment.
Bad posture can cause headaches, poor circulation, exhaustion, and vertebrae disintegration. Worried about the aging process? It can also affect your mobility and range of motion as you get older.
What causes bad posture?
Over time, and with the advent of technologies that keep us sedentary, we’ve become less active as a society. As a result, the average weight of men and women has increased. This weight gain and sedentary lifestyle are the biggest culprits when it comes to our worsening posture, but there are a few others that play a role.
Genetics, prolonged stress, and poor shoe support can also have a detrimental effect on how we hold ourselves, and, hence, our overall health.
The posture test
Want to gauge your posture? Stand with your butt, shoulder blades and the back of your head against a wall, and your heels about 6 inches from the wall.
There should be less than 2 inches between the back of your neck and the wall, and between the small of your back and the wall.
Any more space than that indicates poor posture and a curving spine!
How to work on your posture
Better posture at your desk – Keep your head straight, not down or tilted. Sit with your knees slightly lower than your hips, and try to relax your back and shoulders. Be sure your feet are flat on the floor, and do not tuck your feet under your chair or cross your legs.
Better posture while driving – Pay attention to all of the above, but also check your lumbar (lower) spine – is it pushing into the back of your seat? If so, you may want to invest in a small lumbar pillow – it will help align the spine while you’re in the driver’s seat.=
Better posture while running – Victoria is a town of runners and riders, and we often see runners in particular with poor posture, leading to poor running performance. Whether you like to hit the roads for a 20-minute stint, or have marathon ambition, good posture will drastically improve your experience of running, and your times. Keep your chin parallel to the ground and keep looking forward. Think about slightly falling forward as you run – this will keep your spine in line.
Yoga for your posture – As an activity, yoga has some incredible posture advantages. Not only does it give you more awareness of the healthiest way to hold your body, it also develops core strength – an essential component of good posture. Try these at-home yoga postures from yoga.com, or try out some local yoga classes.
Beyond strengthening and igniting the energy in your body, yoga will inspire your imagination. The word inspire comes from the latin roots meaning “to breathe life into”. With the continued breathing and focus on your yoga practice, you can spark your imagination to new heights.
The importance of massage for the maintenance of health
We are often encouraged to improve our health through personal efforts, by following athletic or creative pursuits. We can embark on an appreciation of health by experimenting with massage.
There are many forms of massage with each focusing on the benefits of a particular style. Oriental styles seem to be more concerned with direct and focused pressures which western styles are more concerned with the soothing relaxing effect of the patient.
The benefits of massage are extensive. While attending physiotherapy victoria, I learned that massage can be used to help preserve health and modify illness. It can be used in conjunction with orthodox therapies and within itself is enjoyable and a healthy activity to pursue.
Children and Massage
Massage benefits children by giving them a first choice, non-drug option for common pains. As most childhood illnesses are self-limiting, massage offers a useful method for making the child feel as comfortable as possible. Children with special needs respond well to massage as it provides a method of establishing contact and relieving disorientation of physical and emotional imbalance.
Massage and the elderly
As we grow old aches and pains, increasing stiffness can reduce strength. Careful massage can provide stimulation and enable people to maintain and extend vitality in their lives. The emotional benefit of massage for later life should not be overestimated. There may be less capacity for older bodies to properly warm up before regular activities. Regular massage provides toning and relaxing benefits which allow older adults to continue active interest.
The effects of massage
When you have had the change to experience some methods of massage therapy, both you and your partner will begin to realize why massage has such a deserved reputation as a therapy. Therapeutic massage is effective because it is pro-biotic as it assists the body with normal functioning which reducing anxiety and health problems.
The chiropractic and physio advantage
Taking on practices like the ones listed above is an awesome way to tackle your posture, but
If you take the posture test and have quite a gap, it’s worth paying a visit to a chiropractor or physiotherapy practitioner. They’ll provide you with a professional analysis, and have a look at all the factors that could be affecting your posture.
Then, they’ll adjust your spine and/or offer you target exercises to deal with your unique issues.
Once you put some energy into correcting your posture you’ll start to see results quickly. Better yet, as your posture improves you’ll start to feel amazing!