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Posture is simply the position of the body in space. Correct posture involves the positioning of the joints to provide minimum stress on the joints of the body. On the other hand, faulty posture increases stress on the joints. This can lead to accelerated joint degeneration, deformity, pain, loss of function and reduced health.
Posture also involves the kinetic chain-link concept of body mechanics in which problems anywhere along the body chain can lead to problems above or below that point. For example, a painful ankle can create knee problems. A restricted shoulder can create a neck problem.
The effects of posture can be far reaching, involving respiratory, digestive, and circulatory systems as well as the musculoskeletal system. Posture also reflects the way you feel about yourself. When your head is forward and down, you present yourself as an unhappy person. But when you maintain an upright posture, you look attractive and show assertiveness. We do not inherit good posture, it is adopted by us through understanding and practice. But how is poor or faulty posture developed?
• poor postural habit—incorrect sleeping, sitting, standing, reading
• Psychological factors- especially self-esteem
• Normal developmental and degenerative processes
• Pain leading to muscle guarding and avoidance postures
• Muscle imbalance, spasm and contracted muscles
• Respiratory conditions
• General weakness
• Excess weight
• Loss of proprioception--the ability to perceive the position of your body
low back pain: It is one of the most common consequences of bad posture. More than 80 per cent of neck and back problems are the result of tight, achy muscles brought on by years of bad posture. With time, there may be such changes in your muscles and ligaments that you have a chronically stiff, tight, painful feeling.
Limited range of motion: The muscles can get permanently shortened or stretched when a slumped-over position becomes your normal position. Muscles and ligaments that have been shortened or stretched no longer function as they should.
Increased discomfort and pain: Poor posture can often cause headaches and pain in the shoulders, arms, hands and around the eyes resulting from a forward-head position. Rounded shoulders can trigger headache at the base of your skull where the shoulder muscles join.
Creates pain in the jaw: A forward-head position can lead to jaw pain. This kind of pain (known as TMJ, temporomandibular joint disease) was once considered only a dental problem. Today we know that TMJ pain may also be caused or aggravated by faulty posture.
Decreased lung capacity: Reducing the amount of oxygen in your body can decrease the space in your chest cavity, restricting efficient functioning of your lungs. The decreased intake of air into the lungs also requires the heart to work harder to pump the blood, which in turn creates congestion and back pressure of circulation in the pelvis and legs.
Affects proper bowel function: Even this important bodily task may be affected by faulty posture. If your spine arches and sways forward, your intestines may sag and cause constipation.
Accelerated degenerative changes: The likelihood of ‘wear and tear’ arthritis or what is termed degenerative osteoarthritis, in later years when poor posture is combined with limited mobility.
Makes you look older than you are: When you are slumped over or hunched over, not standing straight, you can add years to your appearance. For women, the more rounded the shoulders, the more breasts may sag. Any woman, no matter what her age, can help reduce the sag by nearly 50 per cent by simply standing tall. Poor posture sends a message of depression, low energy and low self esteem.
Causes you to feel chronically tired: Poor breathing and circulation, sluggish digestion, muscles constantly fighting gravity – is it any wonder that you feel fatigued all the time? Your muscles are working so hard just to hold you up that you waste energy simply standing, sitting and moving. Where’s the energy you need to feel good?