What is posture?
A position of the body or its parts in relation to each other and the environment. Through repetition posture becomes automatic but the most ideal posture is not necessarily adopted – bad habits can feel normal and trying to change them can feel weird. We have our unique way of standing, sitting, moving, doing, which may not be best in line with our design or efficient energy use. Unlearning poor posture is a challenge.
Mention posture and people draw themselves up from slouching or sit back against a chair. So, many associate good posture with the spine, which is a large part of it, but in standing, posture starts with the feet. How they contact the ground sets up angles in the legs, knees, kneecaps, hips and up the body. At Fairfield Physiotherapy we look at lines and symmetry of posture from different angles.
What is good posture?
Body centred on the skeleton, weight evenly over the feet with symmetry, economical energy use and balance. To maintain this erect posture needs minimal muscle activity when we are still but for most, our body moves through varied positions and sustains loads throughout the day. This can involve:
- chin parallel to the floor
- back of the head in line with the spinal column
- shoulders even in height from the floor, not rolled forward as can happen using devices
- neutral spine (not over or under arched from its natural curves with attention to pelvic tilt)
- hips at even level from floor and angled so that feet point forward
- knees level and pointing forward
- body weight evenly on both feet and on the outside and inside borders of each foot
Normal reflex mechanisms, from infancy become automatic reactions to posture change and are very small alterations in the position of the skeleton, shoulders, and pelvis. This system depends on the body’s position sense (proprioception), strength, vision, and other sensory input. So it’s not just our muscles that give us good posture.
Through genetics, body-type, lifestyle, injury, body-weight, disease, stress, hypo or hypermobility, general health, sensory input, we have individual differences that make us unique and determine how our body reacts to forces like gravity, load or impact.
At Fairfield Physiotherapy we understand ideal posture and how deviations from it can manifest as strain, overuse, asymmetry, fatigue, inflammation, pain and dysfunction. There are also cooperative patterns of movement that we call synergy, which aid with economy of motion. So a visit to us will assess the interaction between posture and body actions to plan with you how best to meet your recovery and activity goals.