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Posture is the position in which you hold your body. It’s easy to spot someone with perfect posture. They stand tall with their shoulders’ and head in alignment with their back and legs. But few people have perfect posture. On the other hand, a poor posture not only looks bad, but it also impacts on digestion, breathing, muscles, ligaments and joints. But, it is actually more complicated than just “good” or “bad”. There are different types of posture.
Unhealthy Postural Types
All different types affect the body in different ways. Here is the list of the most common unhealthy posture types.
Kyphosis (a.k.a. Roundback) Of The Back
Kyphosis (the word “kyphosis” describes a type of curve in the spine) is a spinal disorder in which an excessive outward curve of the spine results in an abnormal rounding of the upper back. The condition is sometimes known as “round-back” or “thoracic kyphosis” (can occur at any age, but is common during adolescence) or – in the case of a severe curve – as “hunchback” (most commonly seen in elderlies, especially women, after osteoporosis weakens the bones in the spine).
Compared to natural curves in the spine, which have a curvature around 20-50 degrees, kyphosis has an excess curve bigger than 50 degrees. This causes your spine to hunch over and make you appear to be slouching or have a hunchback.
In the majority of cases, kyphosis causes few problems and does not require treatment. Occasionally, a patient may need to wear a back brace or do exercises in order to improve his or her posture and strengthen the spine. In severe cases, however, kyphosis can be painful, cause significant spinal deformity, and lead to breathing problems. Patients with severe kyphosis may need surgery to help reduce the excessive spinal curve and improve their symptoms.
Flatback syndrome (a.k.a. fixed sagittal imbalance) is a reduction or elimination of the normal curve in your lumbar spine. If you have these issues, you may find that standing for long periods of time is difficult.
The spine normally has two curves, which are necessary for balance and to maintain one’s centre of gravity, allowing for the best biomechanics in movement.
The lumbar spine curves inward where it meets the pelvis, as does the cervical spine in the neck, which is called lordosis. The thoracic spine, called kyphosis, curves outward. The normal lordotic curve is part of the natural spinal alignment; it helps you balance your body as you meet the physical demands of your daily activities.
When these curves are lost, you can have difficulty standing up straight and may stoop forward, especially by the end of the day. You may also find that you have to flex your hips and knees, as well as change the tilt of your pelvis in order to try to stand straight.
With flat back syndrome, you may have the sensation of falling forward.
When you have flatback syndrome the spine loses the lower curve and becomes flat. This causes the spine to become imbalanced and the patient tends to lean forward. If you have flat back you may have trouble standing up straight or having constant back or leg pain.
Flatback posture is often due to a weak postural musculature of the hip/pelvis/lower back. The weakness causes the pelvis to tilt backwards (the tail between the legs) and the spine is rounded backwards and collapses because of this. This posture type can create fatigue and pain.
Flatback syndrome can be congenital, due to degenerative disc disease, compression fractures, spondylitis or the result of spinal surgery. Treatment often involves physical therapy, bracing, or surgery.
Lumbar Lordosis (Swayback)
The spine normally has two curves, which are necessary for balance and to maintain one’s center of gravity, allowing for the best biomechanics in movement.
But when your posture exaggerates this spinal curve, it can cause hyperlordosis or swayback. When this condition occurs, the spine curves inward at the lower back and neck area. It usually causes back pain and discomfort as well as affecting your ability to move. When you suffer from lordosis or swayback it may appear that you are sticking out your stomach and buttocks. It also causes your shoulders’ to sit further back and your head tilts forward. This will throw off your balance and force your lower back to work harder. This posture condition can be caused by many things including osteoporosis, kyphosis, obesity, and pregnancy. A few other things that can contribute to swayback posture, like constantly wearing high heels or sleeping on your stomach can also contribute to swayback posture.
An increased limb may come from the fact that the muscles on the front of the thighs and/or hip bends are short and stiff. They compensate for lack of stability of the postural muscles of the hip/pelvis / lumbar spine. The effect is that the pelvis is in a forward-tilted position that pulls the spine to an increased limb.
Increased weakness may also be due to the sternum being rigid and/or in a curved position. Then the body compensates for the reduced mobility in the chest by taking out more mobility in the lower back. This posture often causes tired and tense muscles in the lower back
Forward Neck And Head Posture
In this posture position, the neck and head are in a forward position where the head is extending out past the shoulders’. Forward neck can also be called text neck. This is because more and more, we are hunched over our phones and computers all day causing our neck to tilt forward. You may be experiencing tension, stiffness, or pain in your neck, shoulders’, and back. Forward neck and head posture is included in Upper Crossed Syndrom. The body will follow where your head goes, so if your head is forward, your shoulders’ and back will also hunch forward.
Often the position of the neck is a direct response to how the spine is positioned. If the lumbar spine is too flat or the chest is too rounded, it can contribute to the bump of the spine. The muscles in the lower part of the neck end up in a stretched position while the muscles in the upper part of the neck become short and tense. The position makes the head feel heavier than normal and the muscles in the lower part of the neck and upper part of the spine have to work hard to keep the head upright.
Forward Rotated Shoulders
The foundation of forward-rotated shoulders’ comes from a back-tilted pelvis (tail between legs). The forward rotation of the shoulders’ means that the chest muscles are often short and tense. The muscles on the back of the shoulder and between the shoulders’ work hard to compensate for the short chest muscles, which can lead to tired muscles and pain between the shoulder blades.
There are two types of scoliosis.
One type comes from the pelvis being rotated which causes a rotated spine. The rotation of the pelvis often depends on uneven muscle strength between the right and left sides of the hip, pelvis and lower back.
The second type comes from the fact that the spine has grown into a rotated position which results in a rotated pelvis. In both cases, the mobility of the spine is limited both to the side, in rotation and to the front/back.
What is the Best Posture? – Healthy posture
The best posture is the neutral posture where the spine, pelvis and hips all line up vertically. The impact of any movement is spiral in a balanced way. Only a small percentage of the population has the ideal neutral posture.
A neutral posture means the correct use of muscles so bones and joints are ideally aligned. Proper alignment decreases the chance of abnormal wearing of joint surfaces and stress on ligaments.
A good posture is when there is a good balance between the skeletons, joints and muscles that protect the body’s structures against injury or tension. The weight distribution is even across the different parts of the body and no structure is proportionally subjected to more load than any other.
Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie to place the least strain on muscles and ligaments while you are moving or performing weight-bearing activities. Good posture helps you in the following ways:
- Keeps bones and joints in the correct position (alignment) so that muscles are being used properly.
- Helps cut down on the wear and tear of joint surfaces (such as the knee) to help prevent the onset of arthritis.
- Decreases the strain on the ligaments in the spine.
- Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions.
- Prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, which allows the body to use less energy.
- Prevents backache and muscular pain.
You can distinguish what a good posture is when standing and sitting. It is important to mention that these are only general guidelines and that there are no exact measures of what a good posture should be. It is also true that a “bad” posture does not necessarily lead to inconvenience. The same is true of the opposite, one may have seemingly perfect posture but still have various difficulties. Posture is often a factor that can lead to pain, but not the only one, there are many other factors that should also be taken into account.
Thank you for reading this article. If you have any question, or want to leave a comment – impression, suggestion, your thoughts, experience… please do so in the comment section below, and I’ll be happy to help you out.