What is the Ideal Posture?



What is ideal posture?
“Sit up straight, shoulders back, chin tucked in”...Sound familiar?

I’m sure anyone reading this has heard the conventional wisdom that sitting up straight is what good posture is all about. But is that actually true? Recent studies regarding the true cause of back and neck pain are leaning less towards the static posture/alignment model and more towards movement based posture. Basically, there is NO single best posture! There is no ideal ergonomic chair, and slouching won’t destroy your spine if done in moderation. The real threat to back pain has less to do with your actual posture and more to do with your lack of movement. Sitting up straight, slouching, crossing one leg over the other and then repeating with the opposite leg on top are all fine ways to sit…as long as you change it up every 15-20 minutes.

Just like a cement truck, which requires constant movement to keep the cement in a nice fluid-like state, our spines require the same thing. Sitting for greater for 30 minutes in any single position will cause a debt to accumulate in your back in the form of synovial fluid hardening. The fluid (think motor oil) that keeps are spines lubricated becomes hard with static postures. This hardened synovial fluid makes the back feel stiff and ultimately leads to other compensations resulting in pain. The process that I am referring to is called the creep phenomenon and can be easily googled to learn more.

So what can be done about this? Get up and move! Every 20-30 minutes you should be getting out of your chair to go for a walk and stretch. This only has to be done for 20-30 seconds for every 30 minutes of sitting. This will work to stop the processes of joint fluid hardening and thus stop your back from feeling stiff.  Also, did you know that even if you work out every day but sit greater than 8 hours a day you are still at an increased rate of heart attacks and stroke?

Here is a simple stretch that can be done in the office to help get rid of back, shoulder and neck pain:

The standing Brugger

Start position:
·        Stand with your feet slightly further apart than your hips
·        Turn your feet out slightly
·        Tuck your chin in slightly, as if nodding ‘yes’

The Exercise:
·     Breathe in through your nose to expand your belly. Do not raise the shoulders up as you breath in
·     Then exhale slowly while at the same time turning your palms out, fingers extended and raising your chest bone towards your chin

Repitions: 2-3
Frequency Every 20-30 minutes when sitting for extended periods of time




Contributed by Jesse Awenus. Jesse is a practicing physiotherapist in the Markham, Ontario area. You can read more of his articles at www.jessephysio.wordpress.com


5 comments:

  1. This makes sense but do you have references for the information? I would like to share it.

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  2. I really appreciate this article. I am often having similar discussions with my clients, reminding them that moderation is key to health. Thanks for posting, I will share.
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  3. Pain related to your back or neck is really a serious health
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  5. These are great, best for patients with spinal issues and stroke. Aside from these steps, attending yoga sessions can contribute to the patients' improvement in balance and independence. Here's the link of my reference: http://www.peoplebulletin.com/08-2012/yoga-to-improve-stroke-patients-conditions.htm

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