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The Importance of Proper Posture | Alicia Michaelis, Licensed Massage Therapist | Conway, Arkansas

The Importance of Proper Posture

When most people think of what good posture looks like, the resulting image is far from relaxed. Head back, shoulders straight, arms to the side…an overall stiff pose reminiscent of a soldier at attention. The fact is good posture doesn’t have to be awkward­—it can actually contribute to positive health.

Many of my clients come to me with complaints of lower back pain, stiff necks and stiff shoulders. Most of these ailments can be attributed to poor posture. Those with desk jobs likely sit in front of a computer all day hunched over as their head leans towards the screen, the lower back is collapsed which makes the tail bone support the weight, and the legs are crossed or spread out. Clients that stand all day often have similar posture problems including the same hunching or lateral misalignment like standing with weight shifted to one leg and a hip cocked to the side. These common posture problems can lead to health problems for the body.

More Than Looks

Do you ever have low energy? Do you get sick often? What about headaches or upset digestive problems? Do you feel less agile than you used to be? Postural habits may be the underlying cause of these symptoms. Proper posture means the body is aligned so the muscles can work like they were designed to. Poor posture goes beyond a physical appearance; it goes much deeper.

Poor posture causes inefficient movement, which makes the muscles do extra work. For example, if the head doesn’t rest on the neck and shoulders but hovers out over the chest instead, the muscles at the back of the neck must stay contracted to hold the head up. As a result, circulation is hindered; therefore oxygen and nutrients have a harder time flowing through the body. Muscles that are constantly contracted are less apt to receive hydration and energy. The tissue eventually becomes hard and fibrous, which is what I try to work out through massage therapy. Eventually, muscles can pull bones out of alignment and cause serious problems and discomfort.

To connect the dots, poor posture puts the muscles under stress and fatigue, which can lead to decreased circulation, a compromised immune system, and poor lymph flow, which results in low energy, frequent illness, headaches, digestive problems, and diminished agility.

Can Poor Posture Be Fixed?

As the old saying goes, anything’s possible if you put your mind to it, and correcting posture is no exception. So how do you get there? It takes equal parts retraining and reminding. A massage session will relax the held areas and increase circulation. Using deeper pressure can help break down the knots and reverse the fibrosis. Movement education is also a great way to start retraining the body and break poor posture habits.

Proper posture doesn’t come by outside retraining and repairing alone. Practice and constantly reminding ourselves to check our posture and adjust as needed is crucial. Desk jobs are notoriously bad for influencing poor posture. If you fall in this category, remember to assess and adjust your posture frequently. This means keeping both feet flat on the ground to give your spine the proper stability to rest on. Be sure to take frequent breaks, even if only to stand and reset. When standing, distribute the weight evenly between both feet and avoid locking the ankles or knees.

Overall awareness of your body and help from massage therapy can put you on the path to proper posture, leading to less joint and muscle pain, fewer headaches, increased energy, possibly even stronger immunity and better digestion, and ultimately an increased sense of well-being.

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