Why is Proper Body Posture So Important?

Over a period of time, the human body has evolved to be as efficient as possible. To help with movement through the way your internal organs do their jobs. Improper or poor posture can change the alignment of your bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. Causing your body movement to become strained and inefficient.

Poor posture leads to weakened muscles and uneven stress being placed throughout the body simultaneously, creating tightening of some muscles and weakening of others causing unbalance in the body. Making it difficult to perform certain movements and can cause long term issues with your health.

Internal organs can be affected by poor posture; sitting in a chair stooped or slouched for long periods or at a desk, on a computer head extended looking at a computer or head bent down looking at a phone can lead to poor posture without being noticed. You can begin to have difficulties taking a deep breath because the rib cage is not used to expanding properly. As in the same way if you were sitting and or standing in an upright position. Shoulder and back pain start because the muscles become tight in the chest and weak in the upper back.

Over a period of time the human body adapts to its surroundings. Your muscles and joints soon adapt to the positions that you are placing your bones, muscles and soft tissues in every day. Creating change in your posture that can lead to fatigue, muscles pain and health issues.

Not to mention your body posture can say a lot about you; when people meet you for the first time. First impression of someone with proper body posturer says; I am confident, and sure of myself. Walking in with rolled shoulders, head tilted down or slouched over gives an impression you lack confidence. Posture is not only important for your health and wellbeing but can be a deciding factor on how others perceive you, your abilities and personality.

The good news is you can do things to change this. With proper exercise and stretching you can overcome poor posture thus feeling better and radiate confidence.

Text Neck or Forward Head

What is the cause:

It comes from spending a lot of time leaning your head forward, such as leaning towards a computer screen or down at a phone. With the increasing use of smart phones more people are developing this from looking down at phones throughout the day. Raising your computer screen to eye level and holding your phone higher as you use it can help. Forward Head is often accompanied by Round Shoulders.

How to diagnose:

From a profile view of the body, the middle of the shoulder and the middle of the ear should be in line with each other. It cannot be seen by yourself and you would need someone to look at you in a standing profile. Ensure you stand in a relaxed and normal position. Don’t over think it when you are evaluating your stance.

Corrective Exercises:

You should focus on strengthening the upper back and trapezius. Exercises that employ your rhomboids, mid to lower-trapezius and rotator cuff muscle group. Some exercises are seated row, reverse flies, and external shoulder rotations with elastic bands.

Stretches that can help:

Loosen the chest muscles by positioning a foam roller up the length of the spine and gently letting your arms rest outwards.

To stretch your scalene muscle, place one arm behind your back, and then mildly tilt your head in the opposed direction, and gradually roll back until you feel the scalene stretch. Switch sides and repeat.

In a similar way you should stretch your sternocleidomastoid, to stretch the left-hand side, tilt your head to bend your right ear towards to your shoulder, and then mildly swivel your head to the left so you end up looking upwards. Repeat the opposite direction to stretch the right-hand side.

Each of these stretches can be done while seated at your desk to avoid you tilting your body while stretching. They should be held for approximately 30 second for the left and 30 seconds for the right side.

Anterior Pelvic Tilt What is the Cause:

Spending a lot of time in a sitting position, over time can cause your hip flexors (“the front”) of your hip to become shorter, and your hip extensors (“the back”) to become weak. This result causes your hips naturally rotate forward slightly when standing, giving prominence to the curve in your lower back, and making your glutes and abdomen stick out. It is also common in cyclists because their hips are in a flexed position while training.

How to diagnose:

Place your back to a wall and look at the space between the wall and your lower back. It is normal for a small gap (fit your hand through) as your lower back has a natural curve. Anterior pelvic tilt can lead to an excessive curve in the lower back (lumbar) and the gap between spine and the wall will be larger.

Corrective exercises:

The hamstrings and glutes will be weakened by anterior pelvic tilt. Hip thrusters, deadlifts and hamstring curls will help strengthen these muscles.

Stretches that can help:

In a lunge position with your back knee resting on the floor, your ankle, knee and hip joints all at right angles. Gently try to swivel your hips upwards. This stretch should be felt in your quad in your back leg. This will stretch your hip flexor.

Stretching the hip adductors may also help, sit on the floor and place the bottom of your feet together. Use your hands to pull your feet closer to your body and use your elbows to gently push your knees towards the floor. While trying to keep your shoulders and back straight. This stretches your hip adductors.

Lay on your side and use your hand to pull one foot back, keeping your knees in line. Mildly push your hips forward, until you feel the stretch in your bent leg. This helps stretch your quads.

These stretches should be held for approximately 30 seconds and repeated on each side.

Rounded Shoulders

What is the Cause:

Sitting at a desk with your arms forward typing on a keyboard, and too many exercises that push and not enough pull exercises. Both of these can lead to tight chest muscles, and weak upper back muscles, which causes your shoulders to hunch forward; rotating internally.

How to diagnose:

Hold a pen in each hand, stand up straight and let your arms hang at your side in a natural relaxed state. In a good posture, the pens should be pointing forward. With rounded shoulders, the pens will be turned towards each other.

Corrective exercises:

Similar exercises to Forward Head (Text Neck), try and strengthen the rhomboids and trapezius including pulling movements such as rows.

Ensure you keep your head up and a flat back throughout the movements to strengthen key postural muscles.

Stretches that help:

Tight chest muscles are associated with rounded shoulder . Hook your hands together behind your back, and gradually raise your arms up until you feel a gentle stretch across your chest.

Stretching your right and left pec major muscles separately, stand near a wall, and stretch your arm with the palm against the wall behind you. As you slowly turn your body away from your hand, feeling a stretch in your pectoralis major.

On a doorway or corner of the room, make right angles with your elbows. Elbows should be around shoulder height, and then gently tilt your upper body downwards until you feel a stretch near your arm pits, the “pec minor”.

These stretches should be held for approximately 30 second for each side.

Tight Calves

What is the cause:

Walking on your toes, like with high heels can cause your calf muscles to become shorter and will adapt to this position. Staying in the short position and becoming short in even off your toes. In time it can become uncomfortable and even painful to walk normally on your foot from heel to toe.

How to diagnose:

Sit on a chair and lift your legs parallel to the ground. Then flex your ankles towards your chest. You should be able to go between 10 and 20 degrees past a right angle. With Tight Claves you will struggle to even reach a right angel.

Corrective exercises:

The tibialis muscle is opposite calf muscles, to strengthen this muscle lie down and attached an elastic resistance band to your foot and pull your toes up towards you. Calf stretch is also effective and can be done almost anywhere.

Stretches that can help:

Place a foam roller under your calf and roll it up and down. If any certain area is more tender keep the roller in this position until the tender nous eases. You can rotate your leg position left and right to access more parts of the calf muscle.

Press against a wall and keep one leg forward and bent and extended the other leg pushing behind you and press your heel to the floor. Place a foam roller under your calf and roll it up and down. If any certain area is more tender keep the roller in this position until the tender nous eases. You can rotate your leg position left and right to access more parts of the calf muscle.

Press against a wall and keep one leg forward and slightly bent and extended the other leg straight pushing behind you and press your heel to the floor. This will stretch the gastrocnemius muscle.

In the same position bend your back knee slightly and then push the heel towards the floor. This will stretch the soleus muscle.

These stretches should be held for approximately 30 second for each side.

Click here to download the entire EMS and Posture paper.

Charles Laverty
Charles Laverty

Charles Laverty is chief executive officer and founder of Nuzuna. Mr. Laverty has committed four decades to health and fitness starting with his studies in physical education at Parsons College in Fairfield Iowa. An advocate for wellness and physical education, Mr. Laverty is a well-regarded writer and speaker on issues affecting the US healthcare system including adult and childhood obesity, coronary disease and healthcare reform.