Good Posture – Is It a Myth?
What is good posture? My colleague and I have authored many articles about posture. Some of them was about sway back posture, sleeping posture, or bad posture. In each of these we usually tell you that you need to avoid certain things. However, does good posture exist?
What is good posture?
Posture is defined as the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing still or lying down. In general, we were brought up being told that we need to sit upright and mind our backs. That is what is considered to be good posture. At work, the proper ergonomics involves adjusting your work environment so that you work in a relatively straight back and reduced spinal curves. However, studies show that these postures do not reduce back pain in any way. In fact, the idea that we need to stiffen our back and straighten up our spine is only a relatively recent idea that came about in 19th century.
In a European study, physiotherapists could not agree on what is considered good posture and chose one of two quite different postures that places very different loads to the muscles as good posture. So it appears, even the experts do not seem to know what is good posture. So how do we maintain good posture?
The best posture is the next posture
The key is movement. Our body is not designed to stay in one posture for prolonged periods of time. When we stay in one position for long periods of time, we stress one body part more than others. A soldier who sit or stand in an upright manner for 8 hours a day will still stress one part more than others. Although arguably they have good postures, they will still be in pain.
In turn, even if we sit or stand in poor posture, if we keep changing our posture, the stress gets distributed amongst our various body parts. This means that the stress and load does not get a chance to accumulate and cause pain and injuries. That means constantly changing posture is the best way to go.
What to do?
This advice will seem familiar to you if you read our other articles:
- Take frequent breaks – limit your prolonged posture to chunks of 30 minutes
- Do stretches to the muscles that get tense
- Strengthen your back and core muscles