Think of your spine as the structure of a sky scraper. Each joint must maintain certain angles and strengths for the entire building to maintain integrity. This is also true for our spine. The human spine consists of 24 moving bones, from neck to the end of the low back, and a fused sacrum of 5 vertebrae, ending with 4 usually fused vertebrae making up the coccyx (tailbone). Each bone to bone interaction is a joint. We have several joints in our spine. All of which have their special angles and positions that they are happiest in. When we move and do not maintain these happy joint positions, our muscles act on our bones and joints in way that are not optimal for them. This leads to early wear and tear, joint injury, early onset osteoarthritis.
Posture is more than sitting up straight.
- Study by Dolan & Green (2006) have shown that after just 5 minutes of slouching, your lower back muscles are not able to find optimal spine alignment
- Postural re-education training method fuses key aspects from physical therapy protocols, Pilates method, and yoga,
- “Silicon-Valley Syndrome” and forward head posture develop over time from slouched position while working in front of a computer, both in a seated or standing work desk. Find out more here. Sitting for several hours with poor posture can lead to migraines, neck problems, shoulder issues, back pain, knee pain and wrist issues.
- Slouched posture decreases shoulder range of motion, increasing risk for impingement, rotator cuff tears, and frozen shoulder. (Source)
Notice the difference in alignment above. It is incredibly unhealthy for us to sit in slouched positions, however, it is not easy to simply sit up straight. Our muscles and joints are not used to the upright position, causing discomfort while trying to establish better posture. It can take the body 6-12 weeks to learn a new movement pattern, including how to sit or stand in optimal alignment. Utilizing resistance training will help increase your ability to get into neutral aligned posture and build the endurance to maintain good posture sooner than simply practicing sitting up straight.
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Dolan, K. J., & Green, A. (2006). Original Article: Lumbar spine reposition sense: The effect of a ‘slouched’ posture. Manual Therapy, 11(Conference Proceedings from the 2nd International Conference on Movement Dysfunction. Pain and Performance: Evidence and Effect), 202-207.