At our Camden clinic, posture is something our team of Osteopaths and Physiotherapists touch on with almost every patient, as it’s relevant to such a wide range of conditions.
Not only is good posture key for good health, it can also make the treatments we offer here at Guy Gold’s more effective. Correct posture puts less strain on joints and ligaments, reducing the risk of injury and back pain, and can improve digestion, circulation and even your confidence.
There’s more to good posture than just trying to stand tall, and understanding what we mean by ‘good’ posture can help us to find the right alignment.
The first thing to understand is that there’s no such thing as ‘perfect’ posture. The ‘right’ posture will look different for everyone, but generally we’re aiming for a neutral spine. Although you may be familiar with the instruction ‘stand up straight!’, note that we’re not actually seeking a completely straight spine. Our spines naturally curve at the back of our neck and our lower back, which we need for flexibility and an even distribution of weight. What we’re looking for is for neither of these curves to be overly pronounced.
How do I know if my posture needs improving?
Common signs of bad posture are hunched shoulders, a rounded upper back and/or an overly curved lower back. To check the shape of your spine, stand comfortably and naturally, and then look at yourself in the mirror or have a friend take a picture.
If you experience pain or discomfort after long periods of sitting or standing, this could be a sign that your posture could use some correction.
Become aware of your posture
The first step to improving your posture is to notice what position your body is in now. Stand naturally and take a few moments to really feel your body - are there any areas that feel particularly strained or uncomfortable? Walk a few steps very slowly, being mindful of how your body moves. This will start to give you a sense of how you hold your body, and what you need to do to bring it back into alignment.
Build muscular and core strength
Our muscles provide support for our skeleton, and often if you’re lacking strength in your core or other large muscle groups, it can result in poor posture. Building core and whole-body strength is a great way to improve your posture (and it comes with all sorts of other benefits too!). One of our Physiotherapists can help you with a strength training programme that’s aligned with your postural and fitness goals.
Remember, your posture won’t change overnight. Although you can change the way you hold yourself in an instant, maintaining good posture long term means constantly returning to an awareness of your body. Try to develop the habit of noticing whenever you’ve slouched forward or slumped to one side, and gently draw your spine back into a neutral position.
Although the perfect posture is different for everybody, you can follow this simple exercise as a general guide: imagine that somebody’s pulling a string from the crown of your heads upwards, drawing your chin parallel with the floor. Gently draw your shoulders back and let your arms hang comfortably at your sides. Keep your feet shoulder width apart, with a slight bend in the knees. Try to keep your pelvis in a neutral position, neither tipping forward or swaying back. The majority of your weight should be in the balls of your feet.
Ask a professional
Although improving your posture is dependent on you making adjustments to your own body throughout the day, making an appointment with a licensed Osteopath can help you to find the alignment that’s just right for you.
An experienced Osteopath can also offer manual adjustments that will improve spinal mobility and encourage your body towards better posture. As well as recommending exercises and ensuring you know how to perform them safely, they can help identify daily activities or routines that might be bringing your spine out of balance.
Often, our posture is a result of the activities we carry out in our daily lives: carrying shoulder bags, lifting young children, and sleeping positions will all play a part in how we sit and stand. A session with one of our Osteopaths can help you find the healthiest way to perform these essential tasks.
Give us a call today to book an appointment at our Camden clinic, where our friendly team of Osteopaths will be happy to help you work towards great posture and a happy, healthy body.