All About Posture
Updated: Mar 5
Posture – What Is It?
People tend to think of posture as what you look like while standing. But, it’s much more than that. The best way to assess your posture is to perform tasks and positions that your body is in the majority of the time. For example, my most common postures from highest amount of time to lowest are: sleeping, walking, sitting at a desk, texting, and driving. Therefore, to do a postural assessment, I would look at each of these activities for areas of improvement. The more you have great posture in your most common activities, the most functional your body will perform and the less chronic injuries your body will suffer.
Posture – Why Is It Important?
The way you hold your body, your posture, is important in many ways. It can affect something as seemingly simple as how fast or effectively you perform a task such as throwing. It can also affect major life tasks. For example, your rib cage will have less space and breathing will be affected if you have a severe scoliosis or hunching forward in the upper back. A common analogy is your car. If the wheels are out of alignment, the chronic wear and tear can cause major damage to your car. Just like your car, if you are repetitively performing tasks with poor posture, your body’s joints will start to sustain chronic damage. Once a person has realized that this is happening in their body, the best way to prevent this damage from getting any worse is to start to make positive postural changes as soon as possible. The first step in this process is to get a postural assessment.
A Standing Postural Assessment
The most common way to assess a person’s posture is to look at them from all sides while they stand still. Dr. Campbell will look at you from the front, back, and both sides. Some examples of the things Dr. Campbell is looking for are:
Head Position: Do you have a head tilt? Is your chin in the midline or is your head rotated to one side? Is one ear lower than the other? Is your head positioned so that your ears are above your shoulders, or is your head slouched forward?
2. Shoulder Position: Is one shoulder higher than the other? Are your shoulders rolled forward?
3. Torso: Is your torso rotated in one direction? Do you have a hump in your back? Is your back flat?
4. Hip Position: Are your hips pushed back or forward too far? Are you leaning more to one side?
5. Knees: Are your knees positioned too far in or out? Is one knee cap higher than the other?
6. Feet: Are your feet facing forward? How high is your foot arch?
These are just a few of the many things your Chiropractor will be looking for, but they are the major points of focus in a postural assessment. If you have pain in a body region, a postural assessment will help to see if there is a biomechanical issue that may be causing or resulting from your injured body region.
Poor Standing Posture – Causes
There are many reasons why a person’s posture may not be ideal. Some of these reasons you can’t change without a major surgical procedure. These reasons are called “Structural Causes” because they are related to your body’s structure. Most structural causes are present from birth but some occur throughout life. An X-ray is helpful in these cases to determine the severity and progression of a structural posture changes.
Other reasons involve things that you can change. These are called “Functional Causes” because they are related to how your body functions to perform your daily tasks. Fortunately for you and Dr. Campbell, the most common causes of poor posture are Functional.
Some of the most common structural causes of poor posture include:
ScoliosisDifferences in leg bone lengths (diagnosed on x-ray)Compression fractures (i.e. due to osteoporosis)Extra bone abnormalities (i.e. an extra rib)
Some of the most common functional causes of poor posture include:
- Chronic habits that are difficult to break (i.e. crossing one leg over the other)Having a dominant side (i.e. write with one hand, always step first with the same side).
- Tight muscles in a body region.
- Weak muscles in a body region.
- Areas of decreased motion.
- Fibrous connective tissue tightness.
- Guarding due to pain.
- Heavy backpack or purse.
Postural Correction – What You Can Do
As in the examples in the first section, your current postural goal could vary from increased efficiency in your job, to wanting to breathe better. You and Dr. Campbell can work together to restore your posture and bring your body in the best position for healing and preventing chronic wear and tear. Some of the things that may be recommended are:
- Chiropractic adjustments to restore mobility to areas of decreased motion.
- At home stretching and strengthening exercises.
- Postural braces.
- Recommendations on how to correctly position your body during your common daily postures.
The sooner you work to make a positive change in your posture, the less wear and tear your body will sustain. Start making changes today and ask Dr. Campbell to assist in this process!
Author: Casey Campbell BSc., D.C.