Why is good posture so important to your health?
Before you start reading this article, do me a favour. Look at your posture. You can find a mirror if it helps, but just pause and take into account how you are sitting or standing while you read this sentence.
Are your shoulder blades pulled backwards? Are you stooping? Is your back straight? If you are sitting are your legs uncrossed and in front of you?
If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then congratulations! Your posture may be pretty good. If you answered no to any questions then carry on reading.
In terms of your spine, good posture is important for your health because having a neutral centre of gravity means the muscles in your spine aren’t being strained. Your spine should take the weight of your head, which is what it is best at doing. By not having to work to stop your head tipping forward (for example, when using a mobile phone), your neck muscles use less energy and aren’t being lengthened, making them susceptible to straining.
When muscles contract, they use up energy from their energy stores. By not having to stabilise your spine in an unusual manner they save the energy they would otherwise have used. This means they are ready to perform other movements without making you tired.
A study by Nachemson revealed the effect of different postures on intervertebral discs in the lumbar spine. Using a standing posture as a reference point at 100% of pressure, sitting unassisted with good posture actually increased pressure to 140%, this is thought to be because of the deactivation of core muscles as the chair was being used to stabilise the torso. Sitting and slumping increased lumbar disc pressure to a whopping 185%, which may be because of the forward centre of gravity caused slight disc bulging. Reclining against a backrest (not pictured) reduced disc pressure by 50-80% though. Slouching is not recommended in the long term because of the risk of core muscular weakening which would, ironically, predispose the user to more lower back problems.
Blood flow is important in the human body and being scrunched up at your desk for hours at a time can be the equivalent of causing a kink in the garden hose. By opening up your posture, the arteries that carry blood to the cells of your body and the veins that bring it back to your heart have less resistance to work against. This means your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to get oxygen to the cells in your body, reducing blood pressure.
The same goes for digestion; your intestinal tract is a long tube that food must pass through as the nutrients are being absorbed. If you are scrunched up and slumped in your desk chair or on a train seat while commuting, you will be placing unnecessary pressure on your digestive tract and may end up constipated. In combination with good posture, staying hydrated and keeping mobile at work can help to prevent or minimise digestive issues
By keeping your energy levels topped up and your blood flowing to your brain efficiently, your concentration may last for longer. When people have poor posture it’s also likely that any musculoskeletal pain that results can be a distraction, so being pain-free helps maintain focus as well.
Researchers at San Francisco State University found that adopting good postures lifts your mood and may yield insight into treating depression.
To summarise, good posture:
- Minimises strain on spinal muscles
- Muscles use less energy than when slumped
- Less abnormal pressure on spinal discs
- Aids digestion and improves blood flow
- Greater energy levels and endurance levels
Call Office Osteopaths on 0118 380 0385 to find out how we can help the posture in your business today.