How Posture Affects Your Health

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If you were to go to the mall or any business and watch people walk or stand, you would see poor posture nearly everywhere.  Some would be obvious, such as many elderly people, but others are more subtle and not noticeable to the average person.  

Posture is taken for granted by most, yet it plays an important role in your health. 

For one, poor posture puts the body in a position that’s not very mechanically efficient.  When your shoulders round forward and your pelvis is tilted too much one way or the other, it takes greater energy to accomplish simple tasks, such as walking.

For more strenuous tasks, this inefficiency becomes more apparent and more stressful to the body.

Poor posture places more stress on your joints, because there is now an uneven pull on the bones from the muscles.  We get back to the balanced body idea.  If the muscles on the front, say the chest and neck are too tight, chances are the muscles on the back are too loose. An uneven pull, putting unnecessary stress on the joints.  Stress that may take time to build up, but that can eventually cause an injury, or at least discomfort. Posture is an active process. It takes effort to stand up straight and it also takes awareness from the mind.  This is one way that poor posture happens, you aren’t aware of the need to stand up straight and forget to do so. Also, tension from past traumas – both physical and emotional, build up, and cause the body to be overly rigid.  Once again, balance between tension and relaxation. Another way that posture gets sabotaged, is through our overly seated society.  Sitting in the car on the way to and from work, seated at work, and seated at home watching TV or using the computer.  While seated for great lengths of time, our muscles are left in shortened (bent) positions. 

Our bodies adapt to the stresses we place on them, and our muscles become adaptively shortened unless we do something to remove them from these positions. Shoulders and necks become rounded forward and the leg and hip muscles become too tight.  The obvious solution is exercise, but specifically exercises and movements that lengthen the spine and strengthen muscles opposite those that have become too short. If you happen to be someone who spends a great deal of time seated, try to get up every 15 or 20 minutes and lightly stretch or just stand up completely straight. One thing you can do while standing is just squeeze your glutes (backside) for a few seconds and release.  Do this a couple times to “activate” (turn on) these important muscles.  Muscles that are too weak on most everyone because we’re sitting on them and not using them. Poor posture is something that builds up over time if not addressed.  Instead of being the norm as people age, we should be able to stand up straight at any age.  This is also a strength issue.  If not enough stress is demanded of the body, you gradually lose function. 

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