Are you one of the 80% of Americans who have experienced back problems or pain in your life?
The reason may be less complicated than you think...
Having the proper posture support is an essential aspect of avoiding back pain and problems.
To help you out, we've put together a complete guide on how to have the best posture and why it even matters.
What is Posture?
Posture is the combination of how all your muscles and joints are positioned at a certain time.
It is also viewed as a way in which you carry or present yourself physically or when in motion.
If you've ever watched a professional ballroom dancer enter and exit the dance floor, you've seen a very deliberately held posture. Basically, how you're doing whatever physical activity you are doing is exhibited in your posture.
When you're still, sitting or standing, your posture is referred to as "static."
Your static posture is defined by the way your joints and bones line up when you are not moving.
Doctors and other experts use what is called an "ideal static posture," to compare differences from it and identify when someone has a problem with their posture that could be causing back problems.
Defining Perfect Posture
"Hold your shoulders back!"
This unsolicited advice from your mother during high school dance photos may actually have been beneficial to more than your self-esteem.
Though, having the perfect posture is a bit more than simply, holding one's shoulders back.
You can identify someone with perfect posture if they meet the following criteria:
1. When a person is standing straight up, you should be able to see that their spine is aligned all the way from the top of their head, down through their shoulders, on to their pelvis, and ending at their feet.
This will be true whether you are viewing them from the front or the back.
2. When viewing a person from the side, you should be able to identify three natural curves in their spine.
The first curve occurs at the neck, the second at the mid-back and third, at the lower back.
There should be no curves to the left or the right in a correct posture.
Why Have Good Posture Support?
Nature is amazing, and the natural curves in our spines are perfectly situated to enable maximum efficiency when we move.
The three natural curves, placed where they are, enable human beings to have a full range of motion in a way that experts would say is bio-mechanically ideal.
This basically means that when we have proper posture, our bodies can move and hold themselves upright with the least amount of muscle contraction.
When we have good posture, our joints and bones are aligned in the way they were meant to be.
This prevents unnecessary friction, pressure, or impact that often result in pain and injury.
Having only those three natural curves in our spine when we stand or sit allows our bodies to maintain that bio-mechanical efficiency.
Did you know your lung capacity is reduced by almost 30% when you're slouching?
No wonder opera singers always seem to stand tall.
Sitting up straight or standing with good posture enables your lungs to more fully expand and let in that extra oxygen.
Extra oxygen means more brain power, greater ability to concentrate, and more energy.
"Look good, feel good."
As the saying goes, when we carry ourselves upright in the correct body position, our self-image is improved.
Our physical stance has an effect on our mental image of ourselves, not to mention or literal image for others.
Some studies have even shown that a better self-image, brought on by merely having individuals sit up straight, helped alleviate feelings of depression in those tested.
Problems from Poor Posture
Sometimes poor posture can occur because of a condition called scoliosis.
You may remember this name from junior high gym class when odds are, you were checked for the condition by bending over and having a nurse examine your spine for a lateral curve to the left or right.
Obviously, this curving of the spine can cause problems with your posture.
While many people are screened for scoliosis as teenagers, older adults can sometimes develop the condition as well due to injury or other neurological conditions.
When was the last time you saw a truck driver with great posture?
Unfortunately, good posture tends to be less common among individuals whose careers have them in sitting positions the majority of their day.
These can include those with desk jobs, truck drivers, IT professionals, and just about anyone who sits long periods and gets little to no regular exercise.
If you fall under this career category, try and avoid slumping when you sit.
Hold your head up and back instead of leaning forward so as to eliminate any chance of neck and muscle pain.
It will require a conscious effort to maintain good posture when you're sitting often, but the health benefits will be huge now and later in life.
On the opposite end of the lifestyle spectrum are those who have weight-bearing careers.
If your job has you doing a lot of heavy lifting, you may also start to notice some discomfort or back pain that is caused by poor posture.
Be sure learn about proper weight-lifting stances before you take on a large load.
Teenagers and college students often incur back pain from poor posture when they have extra large backpacks, or backpacks slung over only one shoulder.
If you are a student or have one in your home, it's probably worth investing in a quality backpack that offers proper posture support.
Treating Spine Conditions
If at this point your yoga stretches or ergonomic chair aren't giving you the posture support you need, you may need help to prevent back pain from becoming a more serious problem.
For more information on various posture-related issues or other spine conditions, check out the spine conditions we treat and get on the path to relief today.