How important is good posture?
When people talk about good posture, they often bring up the old adage of how much more attractive we look when we sit up straight. And though healthy posture might look good, the greater part of it benefit isn’t superficial at all. Rather, good posture affects your long-term spine and bone health. But as important as good posture is, sometimes it doesn’t feel as natural as slouching over—back slumped, leaning into your elbows thrown onto the desk at work, letting your shoulders sag. This isn’t actually what our bodies want, natural though it might feel. Good posture just requires a little effort and discipline.
You’ve probably read about good posture before, and know what you need to sit up straight. But it’s still hard. Here are some tips to look at the big picture, and to try to make the details a little easier.
If it’s unhealthy, why does it feel good to slouch?
Good posture requires effort. You engage your core and hold your body up, maintaining the natural curve of your spine intact. But sometimes it feels more natural to slouch over. You have to ask, why does it feel natural if it’s so bad for you?
The problem is how frequently (and for how long) we sit. The average American office worker sits for a total of 10 hours a day, according to the Washington Post. Sitting—whether you have good posture or bad—is actually what starts to hurt.
The next time you prop your arms on your keyboard you’ll start to understand. Sitting and typing at a desk puts stress on your back and shoulders. Slouching is what you naturally do to relieve the pain. Once your muscles get tired from holding good posture, your body bends to reduce the pressure on exhausted muscles by bending in the opposite direction. Bad posture feels easy, even natural—but it’s only a natural compensation for sitting soreness.
How to treat bad posture responsibly
Especially if your pain is chronic, or if you can only sit for short periods before back or shoulder pain starts to flare, start with a visit to your chiropractor to identify the causes. A full assessment of your lifestyle, the type of job you do, what you eat, etc. can give clues to be sure whether it’s your posture or something else, and what the most practicable way is to correct it.
The stress of sitting can create hard scar tissue, tears, or pulls to your muscles and ligaments that make good posture even harder. This is where chiropractic treatments like Active Release Technique (A.R.T.) come into play. Using A.R.T., your chiropractor starts by evaluating your muscle functionality, range and texture. Treatment then addresses irregularities to improve muscle function by breaking down barriers that impede it. It is equally as important as releasing muscle tension to reduce pain, as to strengthen your posture muscles so the problem does not recur. Consult with your chiropractor for proper strengthening exercises.
What are the other consequences of bad posture?
Bad posture can lead to more than tense or pulled muscles. Your sense of fatigue can be enhanced, and you can disturb your overall skeletal structure. This can lead to a decrease in the size of your spinal column, and also lead to nerve restriction, according to Pain Management Organization. This is among the most common side-effects. Your spine protects your spinal cord, and exiting it are the nerves that spread all over the rest of your body. Pain can easily spread to unrelated parts. It’s not just about your shoulders and back anymore.
Dos and Don’ts
You might be tempted to manage with pain medications. And while these can be helpful to manage pain for short periods, it is not advisable to use them in place of fixing the problem from its source. Even the best of posture will leave your muscles exhausted, and ultimately you might fall into chronic bad posture or have to seek additional solutions.
After consultation with your chiropractor, you can identify whether a new regimen for better posture is the fix, or if there’s another underlying problem. There is also the possibility that you’ll find an irregularity that needs to be corrected, whether pre-existing or the product of sitting pains. Regardless the case, this initial analysis can set you back on track.