You may focus more on appearance than health when thinking about good posture. And all that slouching can affect how you look and feel as you face the world. However, posture also influences your spine and joint health and even plays a significant role in digestion and breathing.
The Yale Neurosurgery New London team in New London, Connecticut, led by renowned neurosurgeon, Dr. Patrick Doherty, explains posture and gives a few practical tips for improving body alignment throughout your day.
Poor posture significantly impacts your spinal health, causing misalignment that increases your risk of arthritis, disc disease, and chronic back and neck pain.
Other health effects of poor posture include:
Many of these issues affect your mobility and can negatively affect your overall health as your physical activity declines. For instance, decreased exercise contributes to heart disease, diabetes, and other serious medical conditions.
Posture isn’t about sitting or standing perfectly straight. Instead, it refers to how you hold your body when standing or sitting (static posture).
Fortunately, your body handles many of the details if you’re willing to work on a few key factors:
Maintaining your spine’s gentle curvature at the neck, middle, and lower back when sitting or standing is also essential. If you need one, use a lumbar pillow to support the lower back while sitting and pull your stomach in when standing.
Notably, correcting your static posture helps ensure appropriate dynamic posture, which refers to how your hold your body when running, walking, or engaged in sports.
Initially, correct posture may feel unnatural and somewhat forced as you try to remember to keep your head level, drop your shoulders, and plant your feet shoulder-width apart, all while pulling in your stomach.
However, various exercises naturally improve posture as you stretch and strengthen core muscles. Try enlisting the help of a certified trainer to customize a posture-focused workout.
Your Yale Neurosurgery New London team may also recommend physical therapy to restore mobility, decrease posture-related neck or back pain, and prevent future problems by developing appropriate static and dynamic posture.
Expect your therapist to emphasize what “good” posture looks and feels like as you stand or sit. You can also ask for tips on movement and proper technique during sports and other physical activities.
Yoga and tai chi are ancient practices that focus on proper spinal alignment and breathing to relieve stress as you stretch and tone your muscles. Try a weekly group session reinforced by daily home practice. You may even enjoy a daily morning and evening routine.
Also, check your workstation, including your home office, for appropriate ergonomics and avoid hunching over your phone, tablet, or computer for long hours. Take frequent breaks to try those stretching exercises you’ve learned from your trainer, therapist, or yogi.
Schedule an evaluation with us at Yale Neurosurgery New London for help with chronic back or neck pain related to posture or other neurological concerns.