“Sit up straight and don’t slouch” may have been the best life advice you were ever given.
Did you know that your posture actually has a critical effect on your health and well-being?
Low back pain affects more than a quarter of Australians( [i]) costs the economy more than $1 billion directly and about $8 billion in indirect costs.([ii])
But the true cost of poor posture to your individual health may be far more significant.
Poor posture can affect the healthy function of your entire body.
It can cause problems with headaches, teeth, heart and even mood.
Posture is like the foundation of a house. A strong and intelligently designed structure is essential to quality construction and a safe home.
If your foundation isn’t structurally sound, the flaws will eventually show.
The importance of posture cannot be underestimated.
Our backs really take a beating. A lifetime of lifting, bending, twisting, sedentary posture and good old fashioned ‘wear and tear’ can overload the spinal ligaments, vertebrae and muscles.
Your entire body plays an important role in good posture from sitting or standing still (known as static posture) to walking, running, reaching, lifting or climbing stairs (known as dynamic posture).
When your body is properly aligned, you can maintain the proper spinal position no matter what you’re doing.
When your movement or position is challenged, your muscles work harder as they attempt to realign normal posture and hold the correct position.
This can lead to scarred ligaments, tight muscles, joint abnormalities, arthritis, fatigue and laziness.
Good Posture Tips
Healthy movement is a lifelong commitment but it doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. It merely requires a life of positive habits that are implemented with consistency.
- Stand Tall
Your spine is at the core of your being. When you stand tall, you hold yourself in a naturally healthy position. Your bones are aligned, your core is strong, and your muscles function the way they were intended. Imagine yourself as a marionette puppet suspended by a string hung from the top of your head. Poor posture throws everything out of alignment and compromises your comfort and musculoskeletal health.
- Walk Well
Your feet take a beating. When you walk your feet actually load-bear more than 150 per cent of your body weight. In the course of an average day, many people will walk 6,000 to 10,000 steps, which adds up to almost 129,000 kilometres in your lifetime.
With the day-to-day impact of every step you take, chances are you will experience foot pain or injury at some point in your life. Not only that, but the shape and mobility of your foot has a huge impact on your posture and movement of the rest of your torso above it. They may be small and sometimes unsightly parts of our body, but your feet have great influence on your overall health throughout life.
- Sleep Well
Consider the number of hours of ‘good’ sleep you get each night and whether you are sleep deprived. I recommend any time before 11pm and switching off all electronic equipment to avoid disturbances. You can also look at practical strategies that help induce effective sleep. For many people, it’s simply the discipline around time management.
What you sleep on can have a great impact on the quality of your sleep. Assess your mattress and pillow. Are they old and overdue for replacement? Do you wake up with discomfort during the night or in the morning? Speak with your physiotherapist about the type of mattress/pillow they would recommend for your posture and condition.
- Act Early
If you sustain an injury or suffer a condition, act quickly to get a professional diagnosis and treatment where required so that you can be on the road to recovery as early as possible. The longer you wait, the longer it will take to return to the habits and rhythms of normal healthy living.
Jason T Smith is the founder of Back In Motion Health Group, Australia’s leading and fastest growing provider of physiotherapy and related services. Jason’s book Get Yourself Back In Motion is available at Back In Motion practices around Australia, major book retailers and online bookstores RRP $34.95. Find your nearest practice via www.backinmotion.com.au and keep in touch Facebook www.facebook.com.au/backinmotionhealthgroup
[i] Walker B, Muller R, Grant W. Low back pain in Australian adults. Health provider utilization and care seeking. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2004;27:327-5.
[ii] Walker B, Muller R, Grant W. Low back pain in Australian adults: the economic burden. Asia Pac J Public Health 2003;15:79-87.
Jason is a widely travelled entrepreneur, author, speaker, physiotherapist and humanitarian. More than that he is a devoted husband and father. He graduated in 1997 with honours from the School of Physiotherapy Melbourne University, Victoria, Australia. He was among numerous other accolades, awarded Dux of his year and topped the Deans Honour Roll for 3 consecutive years.