Having good posture is something we’re continually aware of every time we look in the mirror and when we look around at our colleagues in the workplace. It’s something our mother’s always drew out attention to (stand up straight!), and and with good reason. The vast majority of us have some form or combination of postural abnormalities, and they can cause us a lot of discomfort!
Common Postural Issues
Postural issues that we often see (demonstrated in the first photograph) include forward shoulder position, forward head position, hyper extension at the upper neck (cervical spine), and forward curve of the middle (thoracic) spine. Look familiar? This type of posture, either mild or severe, typically results from a lifestyle that involves lots of sitting combined with looking at screens, either computers or televisions.
Postural abnormalities like these develop over a long period of time, and are associated with some muscles gradually becoming quite short and tight, while other muscles become very loose and weak. The short/tight pectoral muscles pull bony structures like our shoulders into a forward position, while our shoulder retraction muscles become quite loose, weak and ineffective. Similar things happen in the lower back (lumbar spine) and at the neck (cervial spine).
If muscles are too tight, or too weak, then it’s likely that our joints are not getting the support that they need. Reduced flexibility of the trunk and hamstring muscles have been shown to be associated with recurrent lower back pain, which affects more than half of us throughout our lives. Weak shoulder retraction muscles can eventually lead to acute sprains of the thoracic spine. Tight quadriceps muscles have been associated with lower back pain in adolescents as well, so stretching is also important for this age group as well, even though we maybe wouldn’t think it.
Stretching and Posture Classes
The good news is that a lot of postural abnormalities are correctable. Incorporating the right stretching and strengthening exercises into routine twice or three times each week can keep these issues at bay. Classes like Pilates, Yoga, or our specialised Stretching & Posture Class go a long way to combating postural abnormalities and they help to keep everyday aches and pains at bay. In addition, participating in classes like Yoga or stretching classes for at least two months has been shown to significantly decrease the incidence of anxiety, stress and depression.
So get exercising people! Join the exercise revolution, and #exerciseeverydamnday!