What is posture?  We use the word in various ways, but the simplest explanation is that posture is the way a person holds and moves their body.  We usually talk about it in terms of good or bad posture, and while we might not be able to define it, we usually know when we see either good or bad posture.

There are various principles behind good posture.  They include:

  • Posture is how you balance the body
  • The human body is designed to move
  • Motion and balance depend on the bones, muscles and nerves
  • The body learns what you teach it
  • The body will adapt to posture and motion changes

While we mostly think of good posture when people are standing, posture is actually important in various positions, including standing, sitting, walking, squatting, and lifting.  How you position and move yourself in each of these different positions can affect how you look and feel better, and in many cases, reduce your risk of injury.                                                                                    

There are numerous benefits that come from having good posture, including:

  • Using muscles properly helps to keep bones and joints in the correct alignment.
  • It decreases excessive wear to joint surfaces, reducing the risk of arthritis.
  • Contributes to a good appearance.
  • Decreases the stress on the spine.
  • Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in strained or abnormal positions.
  • Because muscles are used more efficiently, it reduces fatigue.
  • Reduces both strain and overuse injuries.
  • Reduces back and muscle pain.

Clearly it’s beneficial to work on this.  So what is involved?  There are a number of key factors, including:

  • Strong postural muscles
  • Good flexibility
  • Normal motion in the joints
  • Balanced muscles either side of the spine
  • Awareness of your own body and how you are holding it

Poor posture, on the other hand, can lead to a variety of physical problems, with doctors and therapists encountering a range of common postural problems including Kyphosis, Lordosis, Swayback, and Flatback.

There are a number of factors that can affect lead to poor posture, including:

  • Obesity – carrying excess weight puts a strain on your whole body, and makes good posture difficult.
  • Pregnancy – pregnancy is a tremendous strain on the body, and can negatively affect posture.
  • Weak muscles – poor muscle tone will contribute to any of the other factors, of can by itself lead to bad posture.
  • High-heeled shoes – these put the body into an unnatural position.
  • Poor flexibility – good flexibility is essential for holding yourself properly.
  • Poor work environment – often, our work can force us into bad positions (e.g. sitting at a PC all day, leaning over, etc.).
  • Poor sitting and standing habits – many of us have bad habits throughout our daily lives – sitting, standing, walking, even lying down.

Thus the first requirement for anyone who wants to avoid postural problems is to keep your weight under control, and work out regularly to maintain good muscle tone and flexibility.