What is Posture?

What is Posture?  This sounds like such a simple question, but so many people actually do not know how to simply state the definition of posture.  I was teaching a couple of classes last week during Wellness Week at Wayland Middle School, and Posture was the primary topic, aside from what is health, and what is chiropractic etc.  I was surprised, well…not really, at how many students in the one class could not give a good definition of what posture is.  Now, this may have also been some of the 8th graders being too cool for school just not wanting to participate, but none the less, it got me thinking.  When in the office the following day I started asking patients of all ages what the word posture means, and come to find out, many of them couldn’t answer the question much better than some of the 8th graders that week.  Hence, why I am writing this month about Posture, and next month as well (no surprises in June people, sorry)!

I cringe daily looking around at people and their postural habits, mostly bad habits that is.  I am also talking all ages here, not just the younger population that has become technologically challenged in regards to posture with the overstimulation of IPADS, SMART PHONES, and COMPUTERS.  Never mind the inability to have an actual conversation with another person face to face without one of these devices attached at their hip, or hands, but how about what it is doing their posture?

Okay, now that I have gotten that off my chest, I am sure you are all clenching at your seats wanting to know what Posture actually means…are you sitting down for this?  Well, maybe you should be standing instead, lol.  Drum roll please…straight out of the dictionary…Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down.  This isn’t rocket science folks, but sometimes the simplest definitions can be the hardest ones to grasp.  More importantly regarding the definition of Posture, it is important to maintain good posture for good health. So, the more important definition then Posture, is “Good Posture”.

Good Posture is the correct alignment of the body parts by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity.  If we did not have posture and the muscles that control it, we would just fall down.  Usually, normal posture is a subconscious thing, and we do not even realize we are doing it, which is pretty cool actually.  When our postural muscles are working properly, they help prevent the forces of gravity from pushing us over, or too far forward, or too far backward.  Postural muscles also help us maintain our balance and posture during movement, not just sitting, standing, or lying down.  Good posture helps us to do all of these things and place the least amount of strain on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement and weight bearing exercises.

Good or Correct Posture helps keep bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing abnormal wear and tear of joint surfaces, that guess what, result in ARTHRITIS over time!  For some (BUT NOT ALL) of those people and patients out there that cannot figure out why they have arthritic changes in their body and don’t remember ever doing anything to cause it, bingo! Correct Posture also reduces stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, hopefully minimizing injury to happen.  Correct Posture also allows the muscles to work more efficiently, helping to allow the body to use less energy, and prevent muscle fatigue.  This also helps to prevent muscle strain, overuse conditions, and even back and muscular pain.

For all of my more active patients out there and athletes, posture plays a VERY crucial role in how one moves during daily life and activities, performs or competes.  I bet you don’t see someone with the worst rounded middle and upper back, and rolled forward shoulders snatching (snatch, a very technical Olympic lift for those of you that do not know) more than someone with good posture that is of equal strength or capabilities.

This is a lot of information to take in that I have written in this article here.  I want all of you to really take the time to think about what I have written, and how does having better posture pertain to you and your life, and what you do.  Maybe it means having better posture so you are less likely to have pain as you get older.  That way you can spend more time with your kids playing in the backyard and playing sports with them.  Maybe you are training for a 5k, 10K, ½ marathon, marathon, triathlon, IronMan, or CrossFit competition, and good posture is absolutely a necessity for these types of things, during training, competing at your best, and preventing injury.

Next month I will be discussing how to know if you have good or bad posture, maintaining good posture, consequences of poor posture, correcting posture sitting, standing and lying down, and who can help you to have better postural habits.  So, stay tuned! If you have any questions in the meantime, contact me at, drv@performancehealthcenter.com, or your own chiropractor, massage therapist, or physical therapist for help or advice in regards to your postural habits.  Happy May everyone!
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