Importance of having a good posture

While sitting at your work desk, do you sit straight or slouch? A good posture helps the body balance your weight right, if you don’t have one you’re quite likely to be straining your back. Read on to find out more!

Slouching in front of your computer will strain your back, causing back problems.

Increased hours at work, increased travel time and a sedentary lifestyle all take a toll on the back and contribute to bad posture. To prevent back aches and have a strong and resilient back it is important to have an awareness of what good posture consists of.

What is good posture?

To understand this concept better, it is necessary to know a little about the anatomy of our spine.

The spine is not straight from top to bottom, it has four curves,

  • The neck curving  forwards (cervical curve)
  • The upper back curving backwards (thoracic curve)
  • The lower back curving forwards (lumbar curve)
  • And the back of the pelvis called sacrum curving backwards (sacral curve).

These curves are so aligned to keep the spine supple, strong and flexible to carry out various motions and functions. If the spine is under strain due to bad postural habits, it leads to a host of problems including muscle pulls, headaches and fatigue.

Good posture will help you carry out your day-to-day activities without tiring your back, keep your muscles supple and increase your overall fitness.

Ill-effects of bad posture:

  • When you slouch while sitting, keep your shoulders hunched and lie sprawled on the sofa you are practising bad posture.
  • Bad posture inhibits blood circulation to some areas of the body and puts a strain on muscles and ligaments, which in turn ‘moan and groan’, causing pain in that particular region. Bad posture can over time constrict blood vessels and nerves.
  • It can cause discs in between each vertebra to slip out of their original places. This causes back pain and neck pain.
  • In addition, bad posture is responsible for headaches, breathing difficulties and increased stress. A tension headache is more often than not related to bad upper body posture.
  • Bad posture can contribute to wear and tear of the joints, especially the weight bearing joints hastening chronic conditions like osteoarthritis of the knee or ankle joint.

Examples of bad posture:

  • While sitting in a chair, sliding forwards, slouching or not supporting the back.
  • Hunching shoulders while working on the computer.
  • Sitting for long periods of time without getting up for a short time leads to stiff muscles and back.
  • While standing, putting maximum weight on the heels instead of the balls of the feet.
  • While writing on a desk, curving the neck unnaturally to bring the head close to the desk.
  • Using a very fluffy and thick pillow for the neck while sleeping, leading to straining of the neck muscles.
  • Using a lumpy cotton mattress or a very soft mattress does not provide support to the back.
  • Holding mobile phone or receiver between the shoulder and ear for long periods in order to free the hands.
  • While lifting heavy objects, bending from the back may lead to sudden back pain.
  • While picking up something from the floor, bending at the waist can cause back strain.
  • While driving, if the seat and mirrors are not adjusted to the height of the driver, he may tilt the neck upwards unnaturally and may find that the back is not supported, leading to bad posture.

Written by Dr Nisreen Nakhoda, General Physician

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