Faulty posture has become a great problem in recent decades, especially with advances in technology and increased time spent hunched over a smart phone or in front of a computer.
By Maya Hakami, physiotherapist.
The human body is able to withstand some deviations from optimal alignment, but when these deviations become habitual, the body begins to accept it as the norm and structures in the body begin to break down. Development of good habits are crucial to avoid future problems of pain and dysfunction.
What types of conditions does faulty posture lead to:
1. Musculoskeletal Disorder
a. Muscle strain
b. Nerve Compression
c. Joint dysfunction
2. Depression/Decreased Self-Esteem - psychological studies show a correlation between faulty posture and how people come across to others and themselves.
4. Jaw pain/dysfunction
5. Herniated Discs – the disc is a fluid filled sac that separates and supports the bones of the spine. Faulty posture causes the spine to lose its natural curve, forcing the discs to move as well. With time, they can become dislodged and put pressure on nerves exiting between joints in the vertebrae. This causes extreme pain and if severe enough, requires surgical intervention.
6. Less efficient breathing – lungs do not efficiently expand as the front of the body is compressed.
7. Inhibited circulation – with less efficient lung expansion, less oxygen enters the body. Oxygen serves as nutrition for our body tissues and without it, tissues are deprived and less efficient in their functions.
Daily tips to help improve posture before it’s too late:
1. BE DYNAMIC. GET UP. Every 15 to 20 minutes, even if it is just to stand.
2. ADJUST YOUR DESK SET UP:
A. Place a rolled towel or lumbar pad between the curve of your lower back and the backrest of your chair. This helps maintain the natural curve in your lower spine, which in turn helps natural positioning of correct alignment in your upper spine.
B. Adjust your three angles. 90 – 100 degree angle formed at the hip, knee and
elbow joints while sitting.
C. The edge of your seat should be about 2-3 inches away from the back of your knees and both of your feet should be flat on the floor.
3. DO SOME DAILY EXERCISES AND STRETCHES to balance out the poor postural positions:
A. Chin Tucks – Optimal alignment requires the middle of the ear to be in line with the middle of the shoulder, when looking from a side profile view. Deviation of the head forward is termed forward head and puts a lot of strain on the neck. This exercise is great to avoid this postural position.
Move your head back, bringing your chin towards your neck. You want to avoid looking down, the movement is subtle and directly back, almost as though you are creating a double chin. You want to feel elongation through the back of your neck. Use two fingers to help push the chin into the correct position. Hold for 5 seconds and then release. Repetitions: 10 Sets: 2-3
B. Shoulder and Chest Opening Stretch – Position your forearms and hands against the wall on both sides of a doorway (if a doorway is not possible, you can also stand in an empty corner of the room, with hands positioned on opposite sides of the corner). The higher the positioning of your elbows, the greater the stretch. Take a step forward, and feel a stretch through the chest and front of the shoulders. Hold in this position for 30 seconds and then release. Sets: 2
C. Shoulder Retraction – Keep your shoulders down and move them back, trying to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold in this position for 5 seconds and then release. Repetitions: 10
D. Wrist Stretch – Using one hand, stretch the fingers and hand of the other, back towards your face. Feel the stretch through the front of the wrist. Hold for 30 seconds and then release. Sets: 2
E. Neck Stretches – Gently Use your hand to help stretch the opposite neck and shoulder. Hold in the position for 20 seconds and then release. Sets: 2 each