Posture is a hot topic; patients come to our clinics every day asking a variety of questions about posture like “is bad posture irreversible?”, “is bad posture hereditary?”, “is bad posture the cause of back pain?”, and most common of all, “is bad posture bad for you?” As you can imagine, we spend a lot of time talking about posture and debunking posture myths. Let’s start by addressing a common question “is bad posture bad for you?”
First things first, it’s important to remember that “good posture” can be an elusive thing. If everyone had the same type of body, with the same muscle composition and same skeletal development, then maybe “good posture” would be something that could be better defined and easily attainable for everyone, but things aren’t that simple.
How do you know if you have good posture? Stand sideways and have someone take a photo of you. As of right now “good posture” is defined as being able to draw a straight line from your ears to the centre of your shoulder, to your hips, and finally to slightly in front of your ankle bones. “Good posture” is shown in the image below along with types of “bad posture” or non-ideal posture types. There are many types of non-ideal postures (created by muscle imbalances) including:
Forward Head Posture: caused by tightness in your large neck muscles, which normally should be relaxed during rest.
Forward Shoulder Posture: caused by tightness in your pectoral muscles, and an over-reliance on the large neck muscles to move the shoulder.
Spinal Anomalies: such as scoliosis, lordosis (excessive extension at a spinal segment), kyphosis (excessive flexion at a spinal segment).
Is bad posture bad for you?
While you can’t define someone’s health by their posture, “bad posture” or non-ideal body alignments do cause muscular tightness that can aggravate other conditions. A recent study by a group of Japanese researchers evaluated the impact of posture on rotator cuff tears. In a group of over 500 subjects, researchers observed that patients with non-ideal posture were much more likely to have a current rotator cuff tear (See, “The impact of faulty posture on rotator cuff tears with and without symptoms” by Yamamoto et al. 2015). So there is research to show a connection between non-ideal posture and injuries.
How can I improve my posture?
You’re here because you’re concerned about your posture and wondering how you can improve it, or how you can fix it. As an at home solution, imagine someone is pulling a thread from the top of your head upward. Whether you’re in the car, at work, or preparing a meal, thinking about that thread pulling upward to help you change your habits and reduce the stress on your muscles. If your posture is affecting your life, we suggest booking a physiotherapy assessment to get to the root of your alignment issue and start on the road to wellness.