Posture and pizza have a lot in common.
We have all had pizza that was just not that good. However, with posture it is only when we ache due to less-than-ideal posture that it is a problem.
The message: There is no such thing as ‘Bad Posture’. Just like there is no such thing as ‘Bad Pizza’.
Bone is Structure and Function
Our spine is made up of four different levels from our neck to our tail bone. The shapes and function of our vertebrae at all four of these levels are unique. They create our static posture and allow different movement at each of those levels. The discs that sit in between each vertebra are also a major contributor to our posture. Over the life span they do lose their height, and this changes our overall height as well as the posture and curves of our spines.
Ligaments, Tendons, and Muscles
Ligaments hold the bones together at their joints. They are made of sturdy, dense connective tissue that provides support and allows some movement at all our joints. Tendons connect our muscles to the bones and are similar in makeup to the ligaments, however they move and glide in response to a muscle contraction.
Our muscles support us and cause us to move as we walk, run, eat, sit, and stand. Our bony makeup does dictate most of our posture. However, it is how our muscles respond and function in relation to these bony shapes and positions that contribute significantly to our posture. A forward leaning curve of our Thoracic spine (mid -back) will cause our shoulders to lean forward and turn in. This causes a tightness of the muscles on the front of the chest and shoulder which typically requires more stretching. The muscles in the back then become stretched and weak requiring specific strengthening exercises. This combination of stretching and strengthening is the basis to creating and maintaining ideal posture for better function.
The Test Kitchen
Let’s look at some simple experiments aimed at posture awareness:
- Static slouching: Sit and slouch. Now sit up straight, knees below hips, head aligned over neck, shoulders pulled back, feet on the ground. Hold this position and observe when your back muscles start to ache from fatigue. Hold that for 30 seconds beyond the initial ‘burn’ and then relax. That teaches the chef in you a very basic fact: It is musculature control that creates a functional posture.
- Standing Posture: Allow your head to go forward, round out your upper back, roll your shoulders in, allow your knees to knock and stay there. Now pull your head back over your neck, roll your shoulders back, turn your knees out and gently tighten up the muscles of your pelvic floor and stand up straight. This requires muscles to contract and work. This too will cause fatigue and the ‘burn’. Hold it for 30 seconds and relax.
- Center of Gravity: Stand with your feet hip width apart. Shift your weight to one side and hold that position for sixty seconds. You will start to feel different muscles contract and the weight through the leg on that side. Try this to the other side as well as leaning forward and then backwards. Don’t move your feet but observe what your body is telling you.
These three little experiments are meant to raise awareness of your posture and positioning, as well as the role your center of gravity plays on posture. For more information you can try one of my favorite blog sites: Physiopedia. Check out their blog post on Posture here: https://www.physio-pedia.com/Posture
If you are experiencing pain and discomfort in your muscles and joints, it may be related to your posture. Seek the help of a good physical therapist that uses evidence-based techniques that are specific to your unique evaluation findings. As always, we at DeePT are available to help make you feel good again!
Written by: Mike Dee, P.T., SCS