Reflecting on our posture will take most of us back to our childhood and the frequent reminders issued by our parents, teachers and coaches to sit up straight, stand tall, getshoulders back, etc. Posture in our early years is regarded by many as a representation of our attitude, confidence, assertion and drive rather than our physical ability. Ironically in time posture becomes a representation of physical ability, and a good attitude can’t compensate for weak muscles!! It is a tell tale sign of aging.
Posture is impacted by numerous changes in the structure of our body. As we age - so do our bones. Changes in bone mass and bone density occur due to the loss of calcium and other minerals which changes the height and shape of our bones. Our spinal column becomes curved and compressed, causing a bent posture. Our foot arches become less pronounced which contributes in part to our height loss. Our joints become stiffer, our muscles weaker and our tissues less lubricated. We lose the cartilage from our joint surfaces and our brain’s memory of good posture becomes distorted.
Preventing a decline or improving posture is dependent on building muscle strength and endurance, providing the right amount of stress to our bones, improving joint mobility, optimizing breathing patterns and training the brain to recognize and use ‘good’ posture patterns. This all amounts to exercising but is not necessarily about pumping irons in the gym. It can be achieved by holding a good posture position for 20 seconds, 10-15 times a day (5 minutes in total).
When we ask our patients to show us their good posture they often assume a position that is very extreme, similar to military posture. This is neither comfortable nor sustainable for most people and not what we recommend as the ideal posture for our patients. Remember:
- Good posture should feel comfortable
•The endurance of postural muscles needs to trained in order to hold good posture for prolonged periods of time so sustaining good posture can’t happen over night;
• Once you bombard your brain with good posture positions, your brain will use such patterns automatically.