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Good Posture & Your Spine Health
Good Posture & Your Spine Health

“Sit up straight! Don’t slouch,” scolded mothers and grandmothers for generations, and at dinner tables all across the nation, children’s eyes all rolled together.


It turns out that Mom and Grandma were onto something. Good posture does help portray an image of self-confidence, it looks nice, and it enhances physical performance. You don’t see anyone slouching when you’re watching athletes compete in the Olympics or celebrities walk down the red carpet at the Oscars.


Posture and Orthopedic Health


Posture plays a large role in the overall health of your spine. In orthopedics, we consider posture the way that your muscles, joints, and skeleton work together to hold your body upright. Your spine is a complex system of muscles, ligaments, and bones, and it has an incredible range of motion. Having such a great range of motion is certainly an advantage, but the downside is that there are lots of opportunities for things to go wrong.


Poor posture is a leading cause of back pain, which, according to the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, is one of the most common painful disorders across all age groups. Other disorders that can result from chronic poor posture are sciatica, bulging disks, muscle strain, and even knee and ankle pain, since these joints have to overcompensate for the spine.


Types of Poor Posture


Kyphosis, or “Hunchback”


Kyphosis is the forward rounding of the upper back that gives the appearance of having a “hunchback”. It’s especially common in older women as a result of osteoporosis. Kyphosis can cause back pain and put pressure on the lungs, causing breathing difficulty.


Lordosis, or “Swayback”


The spine has a natural curvature, but in patients with lordosis, this curvature becomes exaggerated in the lower back and causes the person to look as if they are sticking out their stomach and buttocks. Common causes of “swayback” are obesity, pregnancy, and osteoporosis. It can also result from wearing high heeled shoes or sleeping on your stomach.


Forward Neck/Head or “Text Neck”


It’s no secret what causes “text neck”—hunching over laptop computers, keyboards, and mobile phones causes the head to extend over the shoulders. For every inch the head extends over the shoulders, 10 extra pounds of pressure are exerted on the neck and spine.


Improving Your Posture


Maintaining good posture requires effort. When standing, keep your feet shoulder width apart, bearing most of your weight on the balls of your feet with your knees slightly bent. Stand straight and tall with your shoulders back and your stomach tucked in. Focus on keeping your head balanced directly on top of your neck, as if a string was being pulled upward from your hips through the top of your head.


If you work at a desk, check the position of your screen. If you have to lean forward to see it, then move it closer. Your screen should also be at a height where you can see it while holding your chin parallel to your desktop. Sit with both feet flat on the floor and focus on keeping your shoulders aligned with your hips. Take a quick break every hour to stretch!


Physical fitness also supports good posture. Exercises that focus on strengthening the core are especially beneficial, and so are flexibility activities like yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi. At Orthopedic Associates, we also have our own fitness facility, Core Fitness. We have 15 certified personal trainers ready to help set you on the right path to better posture and better health.


Setting a goal to improve your posture is a great way to prevent and alleviate back pain, and you’ll also project a healthier and more self-confident image.





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