INJURY PREVENTION SIMPLY BY CORRECTING YOUR POSTURE
Tid Bits of Info
- Proper posture places the least amount of strain on the joints of the body standing or sitting.
- Many young people develop “slouched” posture when they grow taller than their friends.
- Many young girls develop “rounded shoulder” posture when they reach puberty and their breasts begin to develop.
- Many people spend > 7 hours per day looking at a screen of some kind which can lead to poor neck and shoulder posture.
- Seek the advice of a Physical Therapist to help you develop proper posture.
Poor posture can cause pain in the head, neck, shoulders, and back, but it can also cause reduced lung function, and even pain in the stomach and intestines. Healthcare professionals regularly treat various injuries to different body parts directly or indirectly associated with improper posture. The architecture of the human body is dependent upon being in proper position or posture to function efficiently and safely. When the joints of the body are not positioned properly, unnatural forces act upon them and can cause damage to the soft tissue or articular portions. Any time someone assumes an abnormal posture, they pre-dispose themselves to injuring their body.
What is proper posture and why is it so important? Posture effects every part of the human body and the position of the joints determines how well they can handle the forces that are placed on them during daily living. The anatomy of a joint shows that it is held together with leather-like tissue (ligaments and capsules) and the joints are moved by the muscles around it. If the joints of the body are in proper posture, the ligaments and capsule are able to produce a significant amount of static stability and the muscles are able to move the joint/body part efficiently and provide dynamic stability effectively.
The forces of gravity can wreak havoc on the human body if the posture is incorrect. There are sheer and compressive forces that act on the joints of the body. The joints are designed to handle these forces, but only when they are in correct posture. If the joint is not correctly positioned, these forces can be too great for joint structures and damage can occur.
Correct posture begins with the position of head and spine. If the head and spine are in proper position, the rest of the body can be properly positioned. The side view of the spine should look like a reversed “C ” at the neck and low back if it is positioned properly. The ears, shoulders, hips, side of the knees and ankle bones should be aligned together. If these body parts do not “line-up” the body part that is out of alignment is pre-disposed to an injury due to an abnormal increase in gravitational forces.
The neck is commonly injured due to the position that the head is held in during a large portion of the day. Many people spend hours looking at a computer screen or cell phone and their cervical spine (neck) moves into a position that resembles an “C” curve and not a reversed “C”. This position places a great deal of strain on the musculature of the neck and the posterior aspect of the spine is placed in an elongated position. The weight of the head can be too great for the muscles and other soft tissues to handle when the neck is not in the proper postural position.
The shoulders are highly susceptible to injuries if they are not aligned properly. The shoulder blades or scapulae can rest further away from the spine and tilt downward. If this occurs, the person’s posture is referred to as a “rounded” shoulder posture. This position places the muscles that control the humeral head of the arm bone (rotator cuff) at a disadvantage due to their length or the top of the rotator cuff can be pinched or impinged when the arm is raised to shoulder level.
The lumbar spine is not designed to be “flat” or rounded in the shape of a “C” curve. If someone sits for a prolonged period of time or performs activities that forces them to flex (bend) forward their lumbar spine will be positioned in a “C” curve which puts a lot of stress on the joints and soft tissues. The lumbar spine musculature is lengthened in this position and if it is not prepared and conditioned to function at that length, it can be injured when it engages and contracts to produce movement.
Maintaining proper posture requires someone to be strong and flexible enough to remain in the correct position. Physical Therapists are well trained at educating their patients on proper posture and how to maintain it. If you want to begin the process of preventing injuries, start with developing and maintaining proper posture. The body will be better prepared to with stand the forces of gravity during activities of daily living.
Seeking the advice and treatment from a Physical Therapist is easy. You can go to any Physical Therapist and be treated without a doctor’s prescription. The therapist will educate you on proper posture and then develop an exercise routine that will address the weakness and lack of flexibility that exists in your body that is preventing you from achieving the ideal postural positioning.
Preventing injuries is not always easy but maintaining proper posture is one simple task that will start the process. Seek help if you are unsure of what proper posture is and how to achieve it.