What is Posture?
In a simple term, “posture” refers to a body position: how to hold yourself when you’re standing, sitting, running, walking, lying down, or doing activities of daily living (ADL). Posture depends on how your spine is aligned with your head, shoulder, and hips.
In orthopedics, posture also refers to how your muscles, joints, and skeleton work together to hold you erect or upright. Good posture refers to having a natural spine alignment with slight anterior (lordotic) curves at the neck and low back and a posterior (kyphotic) curve in the thoracic region.
Bad posture refers to having a curator on the thoracic region, head forward, hunched back, pelvic tilt, muscle imbalance, and so many other postural deviations that lead to dysfunctional movements or poor posture.
What is a Good Posture?
Good posture is about more than standing up straight so you can look your best. It is an important part of your long-term health. Making sure that you hold your body the right way, whether you are moving or still, can prevent pain, injuries, and other health problems.
The key to good posture is the position of your spine. Your spine has three natural curves – at your neck, mid-back, and low back. Correct posture should maintain these curves, but not increase them. Your head should be above your shoulders, and the top of your shoulder should be over the hips.
Benefits of Good Posture
When you sit or stand with good posture, it feel you more confident or healthy. “Good posture is also known as neutral spine. When we have good posture, the muscles surrounding the spine are balanced and supporting the body equally,” explains Nina Strang, physical therapist, and certified strengthening and conditioning specialist at the University of Michigan.
There are real benefits to holding your body in proper alignment. Below are very beneficial results you can see with having good posture.
- Better breathing
- Build self-confidence
- Improve mood
- reduce back or neck pain
- Looking amazing
- Reduce Headache
- Greater functionality
- Improved concentration
- Optimal digestion
When joints are correctly aligned, the length-tension relationship and force-couple relationships function efficiently. This facilitates proper joint mechanics, allowing the body to generate and accept forces throughout the kinetic chain, and promotes joint stability and mobility, and movement efficiency.
What is a Bad Posture?
Bad body posture is defined as a body position that is non-neutral, muscle imbalance, or asymmetrical—for example, having a large curve in the lower back (lordosis). It can put a bad impact on your appearance, self-confidence, and general well-being.
Poor posture happens with repeated daily activities with a poor form like you are a desk person – who spends maximum time on the table by lean forward or with poor sitting position. With poor position, the repetitive stress drops continuously on your back or neck which can develop acute pain and also lead to muscle imbalance. Initially, it leads to acute pain across there, and if it is not cured can become chronic pain.
The transition of posture becomes some muscles tight (short) while others become weak (long). This imbalance in muscle strength can pull the body’s position askew.
Some people develop postural problems as a result of illness. However, more often, postural changes result from stress, strain, and day-to-day activities. The good news is that you can improve your posture with exercises and, if necessary, posture aids.
Types of Bad Posture
Here are four common types of poor posture.
- Kyphosis (hunchback)
- Forward head
Kyphosis refers to an exaggerated curvature on your posterior upper back (the thoracic spine) where the shoulders are rounded forward. It’s also called hunchback or round back.
The kyphosis person has a visible hump on their upper back, because of the increased posterior thoracic curve from the neutral that can lead to excess pressure on the spine, and cause pain.
What Causes Kyphosis?
Poor posture in childhood, such as slouching, leaning back in chairs, and carrying heavy schoolbags, can cause the ligaments and muscles that support the vertebrae to stretch. This can pull the thoracic vertebrae out of their normal position, resulting in kyphosis.
- aging, especially if you have poor posture
- muscle weakness in the upper back
- Scheuermann’s disease, which occurs in children and has no known cause
- arthritis or other bone degeneration diseases
- osteoporosis, or the loss of bone strength due to age
- injury to the spine
- slipped discs
- scoliosis, or spinal curvature
The causes of kyphosis depend on the type:
- Congenital kyphosis: Doctors don’t know exactly why some kids are born with this.
- Postural kyphosis: This happens to many people, especially those who look down a lot of time, such as at schoolwork or on a phone.
- Scheuermann’s kyphosis: Doctors don’t know the exact cause, but it runs in families.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Kyphosis?
The main signs of kyphosis are:
- A rounded, hunched back. Sometimes the rounding is hard to see. Other times it’s more noticeable. Some teens can’t straighten their curves by standing up and some can.
- Back pain. Some teens with kyphosis have back pain.
How to Fix Kyphosis?
The simple and most effective method to correct postural kyphosis is to strengthen your weak muscles like upper-back extensors, scapular stabilizers, and neck flexors or to stretch your tight muscles such as the chest/shoulder, latissimus dorsi, and neck extensors.
Exercise or Stretches for Kyphosis posture
Lie on your belly. Bend your elbows and place your hands on the floor next to the ribs. Your feet and legs are at hip-width. Point your toes, so the tops of your feet are on the floor. On an inhale, begin to peel your chest away from the floor, lifting into spinal extension.
Lie on the floor in a prone (facedown) position, with your legs straight and your arms extended in front of you. Keeping your head in a neutral position (avoid looking up), slowly lift your arms and legs around 6 inches (15.3 cm) off the floor, or until you feel your lower back muscles contracting. Engage your glutes, your core, and the muscles between your shoulder blades simultaneously. Aim to lift your belly button slightly off the floor to contract your abs. A good way to picture this is to imagine you’re Superman flying in the air. Hold this position for 2–3 seconds. Be sure you’re breathing the entire time. Lower your arms, legs, and belly back to the floor. Repeat this exercise for 2–3 sets of 8–12 reps.
Thoracic spine foam rolling
- Place the roller horizontally across your upper back, right below your shoulder blades.
- Bend your knees and press your feet firmly into the floor.
- Interlace your fingers at the base of your skull and lean back.
- Raise your hips slightly to move the roller up toward your shoulders.
- Focus on sensitive areas for at least 20 seconds.
- Work your way up to your shoulders. Then work your way down to your mid-back again.
- Repeat 4 to 5 times.
Lordosis also known as hyperlordosis, is when your hips and pelvis tilt forward, in front of your body’s midline.
In this position, your lower back has an exaggerated inward curve. You look like you’re leaning back when you’re standing up, with your stomach and your rear sticking out.
What Causes Lordosis?
Lordosis can affect people of any age. Certain conditions and factors can increase your risk for lordosis. This includes:
- Spondylolisthesis: Spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition in which one of the lower vertebras slips forward onto the bone below. It’s usually treated with therapy or surgery.
- Achondroplasia: Achondroplasia is one of the most common types of dwarfism.
- Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a bone disease that causes a loss of bone density, which increases your risk of fractures.
- Postural Lordosis: This is caused by uneven posture. Having overweight or weakness in the abdominal muscles can increase the risk, as both factors strain the lower back.
Prolonged sitting also develops lordosis postural which tightens the muscles in your back and weakens your abdominal muscles and glutes. In both cases, the core muscles that stabilize your back become weak.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Lordosis?
Depending on the location, lordosis can cause the buttocks and the stomach area to stick out. Due to the curve in their back, a person with lordosis may find it difficult to lie flat on the floor.
In many cases, lordosis alters a person’s appearance but causes no symptoms. However, severe lordosis may cause:
- back or neck pain
- pain that radiates into the legs and feet, which medical experts call sciatica
- tingling or numbness
Exercise and Stretches for Lordosis
- Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. Point your fingertips to the top of your mat. Place your shins and knees hip-width apart. Center your head in a neutral position and soften your gaze downward.
- Begin by moving into Cow Pose: Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling.
- Broaden across your shoulder blades and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
- Next, move into Cat Pose: As you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back.
- Release the crown of your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.
- Inhale, coming back into Cow Pose, and then exhale as you return to Cat Pose.
- Repeat 5-20 times, and then rest by sitting back on your heels with your torso upright.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and raised, your feet flat on the floor, and your arms at your sides.
- Keep your feet hip-distance apart and try to keep your leg in vertical alignment with your knee.
- Flex your glutes and push through your heels to raise your hips upward. Try to make a diagonal line from your shoulders to your knees.
- Hold for a short moment before lowering back down.
- Repeat 10 times for 3 sets.
Flatback is a condition where the normal curve of your lower spine loses some of its curvatures and becomes straight. You look straight from the neck to hips and stoop forward.
It can be present at birth, or it can result from some kinds of back surgery or degenerative conditions of the spine, including ankylosing spondylitis (inflammatory arthritis), disc degeneration, and vertebrae compression.
Flatback can make it painful for you to stand for long periods. It tightens your abdominal, neck extensors, upper back, and ankles plantar flexors muscle and weakens your iliacus/psoas major, internal obliques, lumbar extensors, and neck flexors muscles that can be correct by strengthening your weak muscle and or stretching your tight muscles.
What Causes Flatback?
The flatback syndrome may be caused by degenerative disc disease, compression fractures, or ankylosing spondylitis.
The flatback syndrome may also develop after a surgical procedure such as a laminectomy or a lumbar spinal fusion that does not maintain the normal curve of lordosis.
What are the signs and symptoms of Flatback?
The flatback syndrome can cause difficulty standing upright, chronic pain, and difficulty with daily tasks.
In order to stand upright, a person with flatback syndrome must contract the back muscles, and possibly flex at the hips and knees. These maneuvers may temporarily help a person stand upright, but over time, they may result in severe pain.
Exercise and Stretches for flatback posture.
- Stretch out the legs together by sitting on a flat surface
- Bend at the waist until you touch the toes properly (remember the procedure should be slow for good effectiveness). You have to ensure that you are not bouncing while performing this step.
- Touch the toes and uphold a similar posture for at least 20 seconds.
- Your back must be flat during this exercise.
- Try to repeat a similar exercise from 2 to 3 times daily.
- Lay down horizontally (your back must face the ceiling).
- Wrap the rope around the left foot.
- Start lifting the left leg and reasonably pull on the rope to support the stretch.
- Hold a similar posture for 2 seconds.
- Relax and repeat the same exercise multiple times.
- You can try with the right leg too.
- Stand tall with the stretched core.
- The left knee must touch the ground.
- Expand the right knee ahead
- Clasp your hand jointly and thrust them in a forward direction.
- Grasp the same posture for 30 to 40 seconds.
- Switch the sides for better results.
In a good head position, the earlobe should align approximately over the acromion process in the sagittal view, but given the many awkward postures and repetitive motions of daily life, a forward-head position is very common.
The effects of a forward head posture range from neck pain, stiffness, and headache to an association with higher mortality rates for elderly men and women.
A forward-head position may represent tightness in the cervical extensors and weakness of the cervical flexors. The person who spends maximum time on a desk or who looks downward maximum time can suffer forward head posture.
What Causes Forward Head?
- Too much time looking at your cell phone.
- Too much time at the computer.
- Too much time driving.
- Carrying a heavy backpack.
- Sleeping with your head too elevated—for example, too many pillows, or with your head propped against the armrest of a sofa.
Other causal factors include:
- Past neck injuries.
- Weak neck muscles.
- Improper breathing.
- Practicing sports that favor one side of your body (baseball, golf, hockey, tennis, etc.)
- Professions involving repetitive movements (computer programmer, massage therapist, hairstylist, painter, writer, etc.)
What are the signs and symptoms of Forward Head?
- General soreness
- Intense Pain
- Trigger Point Pain
- Muscle Tightness
- Rounded Shoulders and Upper Back
- Respiratory issues
- Balance issues
Exercise and Stretches for Forward Head.
The NASM suggests several techniques that strengthen and lengthen muscles, including chin tucks:
- Stand with the upper back against the wall, with the feet shoulder-width apart.
- Tuck the chin in and hold for a few seconds.
- Return to the starting position and repeat a number of times.
This can help stretch the muscles in the upper neck.
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) provides the following instructions:
- Stand upright with the feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bring the shoulders back and down.
- Interlace the fingers behind the back with the palms up.
- Draw the shoulders back and down, ensuring that the elbows are straight and that there is no arch in the low back.
Supine Chin Tucks
To do this, a person needs to lie down on the floor, facing up. They then need to repeat the steps for the regular chin tucks.
What Causes Bad Posture?
Unfortunately, numerous factors can get in the way of good posture. Bad posture can come about by things like the day-to-day effects of gravity on our bodies. Bad posture may also occur due to an injury, an illness, or because of genetics—issues that, for the most part, you can’t control.
A combination of these factors is also quite common.
Consideration of the underlying factors that interfere with good posture may help guide you as you make lifestyle changes or seek medical or holistic treatment.
- Injury: Prolonged muscle injury can cause weakened muscles over time. That imbalances the muscle and leads to bad posture.
- Muscle weak or tense: When you hold a prolonged position day after day or when you do routine tasks and chores in a way that places tension on your muscles or uses them unequally. For example, doing a job at a desk for 6 hours without any break.
- Technology: Whether you sit at a computer all day, use a tablet or cell phone or work with several devices at once -slowly take your body out of alignment. This technology leads your neck too much forward and that is why you feel sometimes pain in your neck when you are using these devices.
- Shoes: Shoes can also affect your posture. For example, your heel throws your body weight forward, which can easily catapult you into misalignment.
- Genetics: Sometimes it comes without any reason. For example, Scheuermann’s disease is a condition in which adolescent boys develop a pronounced kyphosis in their thoracic spines. Of course, in cases such as these, it’s best to work with your healthcare provider for treatment and management.
How can you prevent bad posture?
Sitting for many hours may be unavoidable, but a person can maintain good posture. Here are a few ways to improve posture while seated:
- Switch sitting positions often.
- Avoid crossing your legs or ankles.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed by resting your forearms and elbows on a desk or table.
- Avoid twisting at the waist, turn the whole body instead.
- Stand up frequently.
- Take short walks.
Equipment to maintain good body posture
Verteby Comfortable Back Brace
₹499.00 on Amazon
Get a back brace you can’t even feel with the Verteby Comfortable Back Brace. This is one of our best posture-correcting gadgets that’s completely adjustable and super lightweight. It can relieve back pain caused by just about anything.
IsoSpine Back Traction Device
Use trigger point therapy to stretch out your back with the IsoSpine Back Traction Device. This product delivers the same effects as a deep tissue massage and can help strengthen the muscles around your spine.
UPRIGHT GO Posture Device
₹11,999 on Amazon
Track your posture and habits with the UPRIGHT GO Posture Device. This compact device and its app help you improve the way you sit and stand by sending a gentle vibration when you begin to slouch. You should feel improvement in as little as two weeks.
Bad postures make us unhappy and unconfident. People generally fall into four different types of body bad posture: Kyphosis, Lordosis, Flatback, and Forward head. In some conditions, these bad postures can be easily cured through daily exercise. But if the person has a childbirth bad posture – it can’t be cured through exercise- You need to consult the healthcare or professional.