By: Dr. Beth Templin
Good posture is more than just standing tall and looking good. When you start to develop poor posture, you are at risk for developing other issues. As you begin to have a forward or hunched over posture, you actually start to throw off your balance. Your body is no longer in good alignment and it begins to affect your center of gravity.
Another common problem with poor posture is poor heart and lung function. Your rib cage is unable to move as far when you're hunched over, so it puts more stress on your heart and lungs.
Try sitting up nice and tall and then take a deep breath in. It should feel pretty easy to do. Now lean forward and really round your back. Try taking a deep breath again. You'll notice that it takes much more effort to take that deep breath and that it's much shallower than when you were sitting up with good posture.
Poor lung capacity increases your risk of becoming short of breath and developing issues like pneumonia.
People with poor posture also experience more shoulder and back pain. Again, because your body is out of alignment, you are putting more stress or wear and tear on certain areas of your body.
Think of it like a car. When the tires are out of alignment, the car does not drive as well. You may need to keep pulling the wheel to the right to keep going straight (ie: it takes more effort to head in the same direction).
With poor alignment, you add more stress to your body daily and you're more likely to have issues like a rotator cuff tear in your shoulder or compression fractures in your back.
How do you know if you have poor posture? A quick and easy test that you can do on your own is the "Head to Wall" Test.
You simply stand with your back against the wall and see if you're able to get the back of your head to touch the wall. You need to make sure your eyes stay facing forward and that you don't tip your head back to get it to touch the wall. If you can't get your head against the wall, you have poor posture.
The good news is that there are many things you can do to improve your posture. Usually it includes a combination of stretching the tight areas and strengthening the weak areas to rebalance your alignment.
Sitting posture and sleeping positions can also be modified to work on your posture throughout the day and night.
Other considerations may include talking to your physician about medications or supplements like Calcium and Vitamin D for improved bone density.
So remember to keep your head up and stand tall!
Dr. Beth helps adults 55+ maximize their independence and fitness, so they can continue to enjoy a full and active life.