Do you remember the techniques of deportment such as standing absolutely straight with a Sears catalogue or dictionary balanced on your head while you tried to walk gracefully without letting the book fall?
Although the premise of erect posture is correct, that old technique leaves something to be desired: mainly, to create enough balance to keep the book on your head you aren’t looking down to see where, or on what, you’re stepping!
Our body has three spinal curves to maintain an upright position: neck or cervical lordosis, thoracic or rib cage kyphosis and low back or lumbar lordosis. The term “lordosis” means a position of forward concavity or a surface that is depressed or hollowed. “Kyphosis” means a position of convexity or a surface that is evenly curved or bulging outward. The balance of these curves is essential to upright movement and/or posture at the most efficient biomechanical advantage.
At birth, we exhibit only one primary curve, in which the body curls into a C or fetal position. The second curve (cervical lordosis) develops as the infant starts to be aware and interacts with its surroundings by lifting its head and keeping it in a more vertical position. The third curve, lumbar lordosis, occurs when the toddler begins to stand upright. It balances the first two curves.
Excessive curves in the spinal column such as scoliosis lead to increased energy output or increased fatigue and possibly increased risk of injuries, depending upon the severity of the curves.
Erect posture is the ideal, but for a variety of reasons it is difficult to maintain and for some difficult to achieve. Most daily activities, work, computer usage, TV, etc., are usually performed in a variety of positions of forward head, possibly forward slumping of shoulders and in a slouched sitting position. Does this sound like anyone you know?
- When you sit, choose a chair with a straight back that supports your back, with your feet flat on the floor, your arms supported and your shoulders level.
- Change position when you do an activity for an extended period of time.
- Adjust your car seat so your hips are in a position higher than your knees.
- Think ‘tall’ while standing.
- Stand with your weight on both feet.
- Wear comfortable shoes and avoid wearing high heels.
- Keep your weight down and exercise regularly.
- Sleep on a supportive mattress.
Improving your posture takes commitment but the benefits are enormous.