Poor posture is one of the more common causes of injury or pain that we massage therapists see in our practice. If you use poor body mechanics in your daily activities, your body will not have proper alignment, and the joints and muscles lose their ability to create a strong structure. Some muscles will become overly elongated and vulnerable to injury; others will become shorter and adhere themselves to a shortened position to prevent you from comfortably putting your body in the right posture.
Another good reason to improve your posture: ‘poor posture actually accelerates the aging process,’ says Alice Chen, a psychiatrist at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery. It lowers lung capacity, interferes with digestion, and puts abnormal pressure on the spine.
Most people think good posture means tensing your back to heave your chest ‘in and up,’ and pulling your head back into your chest. This isn’t so. The spine has two natural curves that you need to maintain. These are the curves found from the base of your head to your shoulders and the curve from the upper back to the base of the spine. When standing, make sure that your weight is evenly distributed on your feet. You might feel like you are leaning forward, and look awkward, but you don’t. When sitting, hold your torso as you would if you were standing up straight. Position yourself near the front of your chair, with both feet flat on the floor, your weight on the back of your upper thighs, and your pelvis tilted slightly forward.
Good posture is about more than standing and sitting correctly. ‘Our bodies evolved to move,’ says Evan Johnson, director physical therapy at the Spine Center at New York Presbyterian Hospital. That’s why changing positions throughout the day is incredibly important for spine health. To help maintain a fluid erect stance, get up and walk around for a few seconds at least once an hour, and strengthen your core muscles with appropriate exercises.
Your body is most efficient when your muscles and joints are aligned. At Massage Therapy Center Palo Alto our expert therapists will assist release of muscle tension and holding patterns that keep your body out of alignment. This re-alignment will help you to not only breathe and move better, but your sense of what is appropriate posture will speak to you more clearly.