by Chanda Zeigler, LMP, CSP
Good Posture: What’s the big deal anyways?
I’m sure we all have vivid memories of our Mother constantly reminding us to “sit up straight!” or “stop slouching!” Why is posture such a big deal? There are many great reasons for good posture: standing tall feels empowering, boosting confidence and lowering stress levels by reducing negative emotions- check out this study by the American Psychology Association: http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2014-37739-001/.
Good posture leads to proper alignment of muscles and bones, builds strong skeletal muscles and reduces the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders such as neck and back pain, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome to name a few. Good posture improves circulation, delivering oxygen to the brain and extremities. Slouching can impinge blood flow to the brain, causing poor concentration, sleepiness, and reduced energy levels.
Ergonomics: The study of the relation of man to the environment in which he works and the application of anatomical, physiological, psychological, and engineering knowledge to the problems involved.
In laymen’s terms: it’s all about alignment. How we use our body to complete every task from computer work while sitting at a desk to washing dishes while standing at the kitchen sink.
Posture and Ergonomics define how we physically, as well as mentally, interact with pretty much everything we come into contact with- carrying a purse, briefcase, baby or backpack, driving, taking wet laundry out of the wash and putting it in the dryer, bending down to tie your shoes. You name it- posture and ergonomics are playing a role.
Signs & Symptoms of Poor Posture & Ergonomics:
PAIN. Dull aches, spasms, muscle cramps, limited range of motion, sharp stabbing pain, tight muscles, low energy, depression, poor concentration, tingling in the fingers, swelling, tendonitis, muscle weakness, and loss of muscle function.
What can I do??
Take a closer look at yourself. Stand facing a mirror. Are your shoulders slumping forward? Is your belly sticking out? Is one shoulder higher than the other? Where are your toes pointing? The first step is to build an awareness of how your body feels and looks. When typing away on a project deadline, pause for just a moment and ask yourself, “How does my body feel?” Pain is a clue that something is out of alignment. 5 deep belly breaths stretching your arms high above your head while circling your hands at the wrist only takes 1 minute. There are so many ways to improve posture and ergonomics- body awareness being first and foremost. Keep this simple concept in mind- “ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, knees over ankles”. When typing and sitting, make “90 degree angles” at the elbows and knees. MOVE your BODY! Choose a regular exercise program that you enjoy and fits into your life. Massage Therapy is a great start to gaining more body awareness. It helps you connect with all the aches and pains as well as offers pain relief. The staff at Alpine Integrated Medicine is here to support you on your journey to better health!