by Dr. Sara S. Morrison, PT, DPT, CDT, FCE, CFT, Cert DN, Cert FMT
I have noticed my posture has been worsening. I don’t stand up as straight as I used to. It makes me feel and look older than I am. How important is my posture to my health, and what can be done about it?
Posture used to be thought of as cosmetic. Good posture makes you look better, more attractive, and even younger! But like many things, there is more to posture than meets the eye.
Sure, posture does all these things. But did you know bad posture can make you ache?
- When you slump, many things happen.
- Your head falls forward
- Your neck muscles have to pull up on your head so your eyes can see what is in front of you
- Your shoulders round forward
- Your chest muscles tighten
- Your upper back muscles over stretch and weaken
- Your lower back rounds backwards
When this happens, each of these areas becomes tight and weak. Pain can occur in any of these areas. This tightness does not allow your body to move the way it is supposed to.
To help your posture and reduce pain and muscle weakness, try this:
Slump forward: round those shoulders and stick out that head. Now lift your arm as high as you can. Keeping your arm at that spot, sit up straight. Now see if you can lift your arm any farther. You can, right? Probably a lot more!
Your body is a machine. Like any machine, it works best if all the parts are in the right position. If you have poor posture, it is physically impossible to fully raise your arm. Imagine if you constantly slumped forward like that. Your shoulder and arm would have no choice but to tighten. That means your muscles would tighten and weaken and eventually stop working correctly. Then comes the popping, the cracking, the pain…the doctor. All because you didn’t listen when your mother told you to “stand up straight!”
Let’s think about another example:
You have back pain. You’ve been ignoring it. You are tough; it doesn’t bother you, and you can deal with the pain.
But sometimes that pain gets bad…really bad. And it feels a little better, just gives you some relief, if you lean forward a bit. Sometimes you lean forward quite a bit. You even grab that grocery store shopping cart when you only need a few things, just so you can lean forward on the cart.
But what about your balance?
When you lean forward, your center of gravity is in front of your feet and not over your hips as it should be. If you lose your balance – slip on a wet floor, trip over something, misstep on the grass – you need to react fast to catch it. And if your center of gravity is not where it should be, it is much harder to do this. Your hips and legs physically cannot move as fast or as far in this posture.
Poor posture greatly increases the chance of you falling, all because you didn’t address that initial pain.
But there is help!
Simple stretches and exercises can get your posture back to normal in no time. Even better – it is covered by your health insurance! Anything that restricts your movement, limits your strength, or causes you pain is covered by your health insurance. This includes your posture.
An evaluation with your physical therapist will best assess which treatment is best for you and your posture. No doctor referral is required! Are you ready to take back control of your life and your balance? Give physical therapy a try.
Dr. Sara S. Morrison
PT, DPT, CDT, FCE, CFT, Cert DN, Cert FMT
Owner of Total Body Therapy & Wellness in Lillington
Tel. (910) 893-2850