By: Tanvi Maharaja
How often have you had aches and pains in your neck or back? Do you feel your upper back is stiff and achy? Or that your lower back feels sore and you need to lie down? The knees creak and the shoulders hurt? Snap, crackle and pop anyone?
And how often have you blamed this on your posture? “I know, I know…it’s my posture!” might be the most frequent thing I hear in the clinic as a physical therapist. It is true, your posture definitely plays a role in how your body feels. But maybe not the way you think it does.
Posture is the way your body holds itself upright and is an effective indicator of how you are feeling both physically and emotionally. Many people think that the perfect posture is similar to a military posture: shoulders down and back, shoulder blades squeezed together, chin tucked. This is what I teach to patients myself. But there is a caveat.
No matter how good or perfect a posture is, being in said posture for too long is not a great idea. Imagine being in this stiff posture for hours! What do you think will happen? This will just end up making your muscles achy and sore, and your joints even more tight and stiff. The human body is meant for movement. The more we move, the better we function. Being stuck in one position for a prolonged time is counter-intuitive to health. Corrective exercises can help to attain a better posture, a better and more aligned stacking of joints, and a balanced body position. But once you get there, don’t get stuck in that position. Move. Let your body experience movement variability.
For example, if you have been sitting on a computer all day slouching forwards, let your spine experience some variability by stretching it into extension. If you have been working with your hands in front doing household chores, let your body experience some flexibility by stretching your shoulders out. If you have been in a chair for a while, get up and walk, maybe stretch out those hamstrings. If you are healthy and do not have any musculoskeletal issues, simple movements like these go a long way in maintaining the body’s equilibrium. As long as you give your body a chance to move in different ways, explore a variety of postural options, you give all your muscles a chance to work. And your body will love you for it!
If you have associated aches and pains, see your doctor for a referral to a physical therapist. PT’s are movement specialists and will be able to guide you in corrective exercises and optimal movement.
So remember, there is no such thing as a perfect posture. It is a myth! The more the body experiences different postures, the more it moves, the better it does. The better it is for your muscles and joints, for your cartilage health, for the soft tissue structures surrounding your joints.
The Perfect Posture is your NEXT posture! Keep moving!!