Author: Derick M. Johnson, DO —
“Stand up straight.”
Most of us I have heard those three words at some point in our lives, and it turns out that whoever said them had our best interests at heart. Maintaining good posture has many health benefits, since poor posture can create a ripple effect of preventable ailments. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the definition of posture, factors that affect it, the impact that poor posture can have on the natural movement of the hip, and tips for improvement.
What is posture?
Posture is how we hold our bodies both when we are active and when we are at rest. The former is referred to as dynamic posture—how we hold our bodies when we are moving in some way; and the latter is referred to as static posture—how we hold our bodies when we are sitting, standing or lying down.
Maintaining good posture in either state means that our body parts are in correct alignment and supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity. When that’s not the case, the ripple effect can negatively impact musculoskeletal health in a variety of ways, by creating:
What affects posture?
There are many things that can affect posture—such as your age, the type of work or regular activities you engage in, and whether you are active or sedentary. Individuals who sit or stand for long periods, lean over desks to look at computer screens for hours on end, and/or experience age-related changes to joints and other parts of the musculoskeletal system may all have adopted poor habits when it comes to maintaining a good posture.
The impact on natural hip movement
When posture is poor, the musculoskeletal system can be stressed in specific areas, which may lead to pain and/or injury over time. For example, a study concerning the effect of posture on hip position and movement found that correcting posture could decrease hip pain. In this instance, both swayback posture and forward-flexed posture were found to place additional stress on hip flexor muscles and normal hip extension. Even more, the subjects studied had adopted poor posture to compensate for hip pain, apparently unaware that it was likely making it worse.
When persistently poor posture places added stress on parts of the musculoskeletal system such as the hips, it can also lead to wear and tear on the hip joint, which may lead to the need for additional intervention.
Tips to improve posture
The good news is that you can improve your posture—and your overall health—by following a few basic tips. Here are generally good habits to adopt:
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