Alex Simotas, MD

Hospital for Special Surgery
Board Certified Physiatrist
Specializing In Spine & Sports Medicine

Home > Wellness & Exercise > Behavioral Strategies > Does Posture Matter?

Does Posture Matter?

GOOD POSTURE

  • Will allow you to assume the tallest stature possible.
  • An alignment that allows the most efficient function of your muscles.
  • May help address backache and muscular pain.
  • Contributes to a good appearance.

 

BALANCE & RELAXATION

Posture is the position your spine and body assumes in positions against gravity such as sitting standing or walking. Conceptually this represents an optimal alignment of your joints and will enhance relaxation, and performance. Since every persons spine has a slightly different natural alignment there is no absolute perfect posture. Some people may have a more kyphotic (curved forward) upper spine, others may have an intrinsic scoliosis (curvature to the side). These are deviations of the normal curves in the spine that cannot be reversed by simply standing up straight.

 

TALL AND COMFORTABLE

  • Trying to stand or sit as tall as possible generally results in the best of postures.
  • One good rule of thumb is to imagine someone is holding you up by a hair on the top of your head.
  • Good posture often reflects a balanced state of alertness, and relaxation, of assertiveness and positive self-image. Most of us will lean forward, carry our shoulders more tensed elevated, and “slouch” when we are tired or irritable.
  • For the most part a good posture will result in elongating the spine. It will result in allowing the individual to stand or sit as tall as is possible and do so in a state of relative muscle relaxation.

PROJECT POSITIVE ENERGY

Individuals who maintain better posture often project positive energy appealing and attractive to others. This is also the most efficient functional position for activities. The muscles and bones are best balanced on all sides of the body so that very less energy is expended to hold our body in a given position (sit or stand) and our spinal muscles are left as relaxed as possible. This allows us to reserve energy and move our limbs with the most efficiency and power to execute our activities.

 

COMMON MYTHS ABOUT POSTURE

Bad posture will result in deformities of the spine:
Not true: Spinal deformities such as scoliosis appear to genetic in nature not related to “bad” posture or slouching.

Spine injuries are caused by bad posture:
Although, certain uncomfortable postures may aggravate back and neck pain, there is no evidence that individuals who carry poor posture are prone to spinal injury.

An ideal posture is needed to recover from spine pain problems:
There is no such thing as ideal posture. Also although posture can be helpful with back problems, many individuals will recover from pain without ever giving consideration to their less than ideal posture.

Many causes of bad posture include tense muscles, fatigue, a lack of exercise, poor body image, anxiety and depression. There are a number of specific exercises that will help stretch and relax the major back muscles. Some people find that meditation or other forms of mental relaxation are effective in helping relax the back muscles. Others find treatments and activities such as massage therapy, yoga, tai chi or other regular exercise routines. Treatments such as chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, etc. to be helpful with both muscle relaxation and posture awareness and improvement.