How to Maintain Good Posture

How to Maintain Good Posture

How to Improve and Maintain Good Posture

We all know that it is important to maintain good posture.  It is important to how we look, how we feel, and how we function.  Your posture depends on both your spine and the muscles and soft tissue around it.  Not all spines are created equal.  For example, some people are born with scoliosis (congenital curvature of the spine), or other spinal structural abnormalities.  This will affect your posture, and how your body functions and holds itself up.  Muscles and soft tissue affect your posture by supporting and pulling your spine in specific directions.  Ideally, you want your muscles to be balanced, so that all the forces on the spine are equal, thus maintaining your spine in neutral alignment, to help you maintain good posture.  If you have muscle imbalances, this can cause your spine to be pulled out of alignment and in turn this can affect your posture.

If you have ever seen a physiotherapist or chiropractor about improving your posture, he or she has likely given you stretching and strengthening exercises to do.  The purposes of these exercises is to help restore the muscle balance in your body to help you achieve and maintain good posture.

How does stretching help?

Basically, when we are in a certain posture for a pronged period of time – even if you are in the perfect posture – your muscles start to get used to that position.  Your body was not designed to be in one position for too long and when certain muscles shorten or tighten (due to constantly being in a certain position), your bones move along with them.  This is one of the most important causes of misalignment.  Now, if you prevent prolonged postures, your muscles have a chance to stay elastic and do not get stuck in any certain position.  Therefore stretching your muscles frequently (ie. every hour ideally!) can help to prevent misalignments and help maintain good posture.

How does strengthening help?

Once you have learned how to achieve good posture, and you have stretched your muscles to keep them flexible enough to get you in this good posture, you will need to keep that position. This is where the strengthening exercises come in.  Your muscles will help keep your spine in the proper position and help you to maintain good posture.  In order for your muscles to effortlessly keep you in good posture, your muscles need to have adequate strength and endurance to maintain that position. You will notice the difference when your muscles are strong and you don’t have to keep reminding yourself to sit properly, they will already know how and keep you there!  For example, you have probably been told many times to sit up straight and keep your shoulders back.  When you adequately strengthen the muscles responsible for this movement, they will help to hold you there in good posture without you even thinking about it.