June 4, 2018

Better Posture from Head to Toe

Good posture is critical to full body health. You may be eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, but if you have poor posture, you’ll still be perpetuating health issues that can bring on more acute problems.

There are a few things which people know they can do to correct their posture, but there are many we don’t talk about. Likewise, there are ways your poor posture is affecting your health that you never considered before. Here is a quick rundown from head to toe that details how your posture is causing further problems and what you can do to correct and prevent it.

Head and Neck
Let’s start at the top. Poor posture for your head and neck means putting your head in a forward position. The weight of this puts extra tension on your neck and muscles going down into your shoulders. This can not only cause headaches or migraines, but it can affect how well you sleep, your mood and level of motivation, and can even contribute to mental health.

Counteract these effects by making a conscious effort to keep your chin level with the floor and aligning your neck with the rest of your spine.

Upper Torso
The posture of the upper torso includes shoulder, chest, and arms. Poor posture here would look like hunched shoulders and a dropped or caved-in chest. This can emphasize the forward position of your head, pulling more at your neck and shoulder muscles, going more deeply into the shoulder blade area.

This position can constrict the space meant for your lungs and heart. You’re likely to breathe in your chest rather than using your diaphragm, meaning you’re breathing more quickly and shallowly. Your arms have decreased circulation which can lead to tingling hands, tighter muscles, and carpal tunnel. It can also increase blood pressure and even incite chest pain.

The most common posture tips can be used here. Keep your shoulders rolled back, imagining your shoulder blades flattening out and your chest lifting. You can also imagine pulling a thread from the top of your head that down your neck and spine to bring those pieces together.

Lower Torso
This area of your body, comprised of your abdominals and lower back, is where your body holds its core strength. If the muscles here are weak, poor posture follows in other places as well as muscle overuse, causing you more pain. You risk misaligning your spine because your muscles aren’t able to support and protect your spine, and it can affect digestion and bowel movements.

Protect your spine by building up the muscles all around your torso with balancing exercises and extension/flexion of the back. Your lumbar spine should keep its curvature without going overboard.

Hips and Pelvis
Your hip flexors are one of the strongest muscle groups in your body and work in tandem with your core muscles when it comes to posture. If your hip flexors are weak, it can cause too much pelvic rotation. If there is a muscle imbalance, it can cause further issues for your legs and feet, even contributing to pain leading you to hip surgery.

Improve your posture in this area with exercises for your glutes and movements where your tilt your pelvis forward and pull your belly button toward your spine.

Legs and Feet
Remember that muscle imbalance in your hips? This can affect the posture of your legs and feet by putting more weight or stress on one side than the other. Leg and foot pain can keep you from equalizing those muscle groups, or even just from wearing your favorite shoes. Additionally, bow legs or knock knees can put added pressure on your knees and other joints.

Do exercises like side leg raises and hip extensions to work toward better leg posture and avoid future surgeries. If you have more serious concerns, be sure to consult your physician or physical therapist for specialized treatment and exercises.