The Importance of Good Posture

Your posture has an impact on your overall health including your mood and energy levels. It’s important to focus on your posture while exercising and sitting for long periods of time and there are exercises and tips to help maintain proper posture.

What effects does poor posture have on our body?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Many, essentially, Liz, with the big two that stick out for us, as conditions that are known, are poor posture damages the soft tissue, so your muscles, ligaments, tendons and the joints within the spine and extremities. It creates adhesion and eventually leads to degeneration and also puts our bodies into a chronic state of stress, which increases our levels of hormones such as cortisol, also known as our stress hormone. This can affect our sleep patterns, our mood, our energy levels or digestion and essentially our overall well-being. We like to use the term in our office, “sitting is the new smoking” and you should really limit sitting because that can contribute to your poor posture.

How can you tell if you are maintaining the best possible posture throughout the day?

Dr. Luke Stringer: There are some digital devices out there that can measure your posture in terms of when you are learning forward, et cetera, but, regardless, if you feel you have good posture or poor posture, you should create good habits and essentially, that is taking periodic breaks throughout the day to perform postural exercises to make sure that the muscles that support good posture are being used. Sitting essentially is a lazy position. We are built to move, so when we’re sitting, the muscles aren’t getting the use. They get lazy. So the term use it or lose it really applies here. So essentially, postural breaks throughout the day are something that we should definitely build into our office routine.

Should we be focusing on our posture while we work out, including lifting weights and running and other cardio exercises?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Yes, definitely. Good posture means our spine is in a stable and strong position which allows our extremities, arms and legs to be able to move freely and also to be supported through the movement which supports our body even uncomfortably which in essentially will prevent any injuries, et cetera.

What are some tips for maintaining the best posture while sitting in a desk chair all day?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Try sitting on an exercise ball instead of your chair for half the day. This will activate your pelvic floor, your core essentially, which is going to add to hip and low back support. So if you’re going to be exercising, that’s critical. Also, some basic stretching. Lot of repetitive stress like that creates something called adhesion in the muscles which kind of limits our range of motion. And some basic stretching throughout the day is advised. So a basic one you can do is if you place your elbow on the desk, your palm should face away from you and you contact the top of your fingers and gently pull them back toward you. You should feel a nice stretch in your wrist when your wrist is flexed. You should hold that for 60 to 120 seconds. If you do this repetitively throughout the week, this will help prevent any issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Are there exercises we can do to specifically improve our posture?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Yes. There are many muscles in the body that work together to support our spine, to essentially give us good posture. We certainly can be isolated and activated. And they are muscles that should be worked out. If you feel that you do have poor posture, I’d recommend going to see a chiropractor because they’ll help you immensely.

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