As you will undoubtedly know, good posture is essential for good overall health. However, did you know that that posture refers to the position of your body not just while you are standing but also when you are sitting or lying down? Without realizing it, people adopt a stance based on years of habits and often do not even realize they have a terrible posture. While it is easy to recognize a bad posture in others by simply glancing around the office and seeing how your co-workers are slumped at their desks, it is not easy to identify it yourself.
Train yourself to resist gravity
The definition of having a good posture is the proper alignment of your body while sitting or standing. To achieve a correct posture, you must train yourself to resist gravity with the least amount of resistance. Keeping your body in proper alignment reduces the amount of wear and tear on your ligaments and bones.
While many people think that poor posture is just the result of aging, many young people develop poor posture early on in life. Recently researchers looked at how many hours a day young people spend on a computer. They also studied the effect that having to carry a laptop and books around has on the body. Both of these elements can cause a deviation in the head and torso’s vertical alignment, commonly referred to as “forward head posture (FHP).”
The common consensus is that working on a computer; you are constrained by having to have your hands on the keyboard while being focused on the screen. Over time, these two things lead to an increase in forward head posture. The hypothesis was that increased time being sedentary, coupled with maintaining a posture constrained by hands on keyboard with eyes focused on a screen, would mould repetitive movement patterns into progressively greater “Forward Head Posture” over time. This can result in a reduced range of motion, neck and shoulder fatigue, and pain in the spine.
Researchers drew a line from the ears to the shoulders to study the effect on college students. They then compared the line to an objective vertical line. If there was a forward deviation from the vertical line, the student concerned has forward head posture. While forward head posture is not a disease, it is the consequences of how their actions have shaped an individual’s body over many years. A person who does not suffer from forward head motion is a classic example of how having a correct posture can aid health and well-being. Proper posture is also a sign of confidence and a healthy mind.
No matter how you measure a person’s posture when one part of the body deviates from the gravity line, other body parts need to compensate for the deviation. As the world around us becomes ever dependent on computers and desk work, maintaining a proper posture can help mitigate the impact on one’s health and well-being.
The findings from the research of college students and their posture
Overall, researchers believed that the increase in forward head posture in higher education students was the result of the following things:
- Longer hours spent studying
- Too much time spent looking at computers
- Carrying around a backpack with books and a laptop
- Reduced physical activity due to educational demands
The study concluded that young people today are under massive amounts of stress as they progress to higher levels of education. To avoid health problems later in life, they recommend students try and maintain a correct posture.
Eight ways to help maintain a correct posture
To help maintain a correct body posture, we recommend you do the following eight things:
- Don’t carry your life around you in a handbag or backpack, especially when always worn over the same shoulder. Choose a smaller bag with a wide strap and alternate which shoulder you carry it on.
- Wear sensible shoes as wearing heels forces you to shift your center of gravity forward.
- Never balance the phone between your shoulder and neck when speaking on a telephone. Hold the phone to your ear with your hand or use a hands-free device like Bluetooth to communicate.
- Never use your laptop on your lap, as you will constantly be straining your neck muscles as you look down at the screen and keyboard.
- If you are working from behind a desk, get up from time to time and walk around. Sitting for an extended amount of time makes the muscles supporting your spine weaker.
- When texting, bring your telephone up to eye level rather than looking down at it.
- Try to have your laptop or computer screen higher up, so you do not have to look down to see it.
- Stand with your back, heels, buttocks, head, and shoulders to a wall for a minimum of ten seconds. When you step away, try to maintain the same position.
At the BAC, we have experienced osteopaths for posture problems, and can assess your current posture and body’s alignment. We also show you how you can make good posture a habit in your day to day life.