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Health and wellbeing series - facts about posture

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Published Wednesday 19 December 2018
  • Aged Care

Did you know - good posture is a combination of balanced strength and flexibility in the skeletal muscles, enabling us to sit, stand and walk in a graceful manner.

“Sit up straight! – stop slouching!” We all heard those words from our mother when we were growing up. Little did we know then what the implications of poor posture were!

‘Posture’ refers to the body's alignment and positioning with respect to the force of gravity. Whether we are standing, sitting or lying down, gravity exerts a force on our joints, ligaments, and muscles. Good posture allows even distribution of the force of gravity through our body so no one part is overstressed.

Here are some of the ways good posture helps our bodies:

  1. It helps our muscles and joints. Good posture helps us keep our bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing wear and tear on our joints. A good posture allows muscles to work more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy and, therefore, prevent muscle fatigue. It also helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and even back and muscular pain.
  2. Breathing becomes easier and deeper. When we slouch, our ribcage can sink down towards our abdomen which can cause a restriction to deep breathing. Good posture allows our ribs to expand more easily. Deep breathing can assist with improved relaxation and concentration as we move through the day.
  3. It improves circulation and digestion. Poor posture can cause undue compression of the internal organs in the abdomen. Good, upright posture allows the organs to assume their natural position and function.
  4. It promotes a healthy neck and spine Correct posture is a simple but very important way to keep the intricate structures in the neck and spine healthy. This is especially important for people who spend many hours sitting in an office chair or standing throughout the day. Poor posture and inadequate back support can add stress and strain to the muscles and joints of the spine. Over time, there can be shortening of the ligaments and muscles of the spine with the possibility of ongoing pain, stiffness, and discomfort.
  5. It portrays a better image. Good posture helps boost our self-confidence. In front of a mirror, take a deep breath and stand up straight. Then slump over. See the difference? Think of the people around you that you ‘see’ as confident. Many of them stand tall and have great posture. It helps portrays confidence.
  6. It makes you look slimmer and younger. We can instantly ‘take off’ a few kilos when we stand tall! It helps us look slimmer and younger and our clothes will fit better.
  7. It gives us a positive mindset. Posture affects our frame of mind, and our frame of mind can affect our posture. So, when we are well and happy, our posture tends to be upright and open. In contrast, when we feel down or in pain, we often sit or stand slouched.

Next time you feel down or you’re worried about something, try changing your posture - stand up straight, lift your head up, and breathe deeply to help achieve that positive mindset.

Consultation with a physiotherapist can assist with posture correction. Many gyms and community centres also have great activity programs - Eastern practices such as yoga and tai-chi are a fun, interesting way to look after your posture health.

So, do what your mother told you and “sit up straight!”

Mother really does know best!

The health and wellbeing series is brought to you by WMQ's allied health team.

We offer allied health services to both residential aged care residents and to the wider community through our therapy centres. To find out more about the services we can offer you, visit our therapy, respite and wellness webpage or phone us on 1300 541 648 or email: contactus@wmq.org.au.

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