Posture. Just seeing or hearing the word can make a person sit up straighter. Perhaps this is from all the years of nagging/gentle scolding to not slouch at the dinner table. Either way, the word posture tends to have a reaction.
But what is posture? The physical therapy literature says, “perfect posture is demonstrated by aligning ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles along a plumb line—a weighted object suspended by a string along our vertical axis.” However, most people are not mannequins, and this perfect alignment isn’t realistic. A healthy posture is one that is natural and allows your bones, muscles, and other types of fascia to move harmoniously.
How to Achieve A Healthy Posture in Our Busy World
To help patients reach a healthy posture, physical therapists provide an array of therapeutic exercises to target muscles and joints that either require strengthening, improved flexibility, or greater stability.
These exercises typically require repetition as posture is one of those areas where the body does require a continued attention, and there is no one-time fix to ensure a positive change. Regular physical therapy sessions, along with minor adjustments to regular routine, will have the most dramatic impact on posture.
Simple Ways to Improve Your Posture
In today’s busy world, I do find most people struggling to do a daily routine which is understandable—I have a 1-year-old baby, I get it. But what if I told you working on posture doesn’t have to feel like exercise? It’s true! Some great ways to improve your posture include:
- Taking a walk with friends
- Going on a stroller jog with your child
- Going on a run with some music on your AirPods
- Stretching on a yoga mat and taking deep breaths
A Real-World Example of Posture Improving Over Time
My husband works long days in front of a desk for 8+ hours, Monday through Friday. He occasionally plays video games late into the night and looks at his phone a lot. One could say his posture isn’t the best. However, something interesting happened over his 12-week paternity leave. In the weeks after welcoming our baby boy into this world, his posture drastically improved.
The changes came from simply moving around the house more and breaking up his old routine. He had to carry our son, change his diapers, give him baths, and do general household chores frequently during the first few weeks as I was recovering. Our family went for lots of walks, went up and down stairs to do way too much laundry, and ran to our son as he cried in the middle of the night. Although this situation was only for 12 weeks, we did realize the positive impact it had on our posture.
For Better Posture, Remember to Move and Breathe!
Long story short, there are many ways to approach posture, it doesn’t have to be burdensome in our busy and ever-changing lives. Just remember to move and breathe! And if you are struggling, then physical therapy is there to help you regain function in a way you understand, and that fits your unique lifestyle.
Posture is a large area to discuss and impacts everyone, so I will be writing a few more blogs on this topic, I hope you find this upcoming series informative and relatable.
Written by Ancy Alford, PT, DPT, CMTPT/DN — Physical Therapist at Bethesda Physiocare, Bethesda, MD