Growing up, our parents and teachers nagged us to sit up straight. And they were right to do so. I see people hanging out on their joints all the time, instead of utilizing their postural muscles to keep them upright. Improper posture not only puts excessive stress on your joints but also your ligaments and muscles, too. Over time, this could result in damaged joints, increased pain, or poor movement patterns. Although we know it’s important to have proper posture, why is it so difficult to do? Our lifestyles and technology work against our efforts to have better form. In this post, I’ll focus on our lifestyle choices that impact our joints and will post a follow-up blog post on how technology impacts our joints.
Shoes Impact Foot Muscle Development
We start wearing shoes before we can walk causing us to never develop the muscles in our feet. The benefits from the support provided by our shoes is offset by the lack of development in our foot muscles resulting in flat, unresponsive feet. Collapsed arches can occur through “hanging out” on the arch to hold your body weight up. This will stretch the ligament supporting your arch, eventually resulting in a flat foot. This why a lot of people are not ready to transition to “barefoot” running or a minimalist shoe because they can’t control their feet.
Knee and Pelvis Lockout
At the knees, a person can lock their knees out into hyperextension causing posterior knee pain. I commonly see people hang out on their hips to the point of pain or discomfort and then when that occurs they switch over to their other hip until that one hurts.
In addition to their knees, people also lock out their pelvis in an anterior tilt thinking this is good posture until their back hurts, or they posteriorly tilt, sitting on their sacrum (a non-weightbearing bone) until their back hurts. Our lifestyle of sitting in our car, at desks or in front of the table at dinner time coupled with improper posture can lead to hip and back pain. Moving up to the thoracic spine where people hunched over and it looks like gravity is just beating them down. Since everything we do is in front of us, we let our shoulders fall forward, which perpetuates the issue at the thoracic spine, followed by protruding the neck and extending at the base of our skull just to look forward!
Improve Your Posture Today
Although it’s easy to fall into bad posture patterns, there are many exercises that can help people of all ages improve their posture, awareness, and to combat the technology and lifestyles we have been enjoying. Here’s an exercise you can do today to improve your posture:
- Find a bare wall and place your low back flat against it, bringing your feet away from the wall to make this easier.
- While holding the low back flat, bring your shoulders and head to the wall. Do this by bringing the shoulders down and back and performing a chin tuck at the neck.
- Holding this for a count of 10 seconds for 10x is a good way to turn on the postural muscles and place you in a better position.
Read this post to find out how to make free and cheap workplace ergonomic improvements. Give us call or email us if you would like to work on your posture and we would be more than happy to assist you on your journey!