Making Mom Proud
Posture. The word alone likely encourages you to evaluate and correct your posture. Yet soon after, chances are you unknowingly return to your normal posture. If your posture is not up to Mom’s standards, then how can you correct it?
In order to correct something, you must know where you are starting. Posture can be described as the arrangement of all your joints at any given moment. Good posture maintains the body’s structure with a balance of the muscular and skeletal systems to efficiently protect the body from stress and strain. Poor posture is an imbalance of various areas of the body that inefficiently support the body, which often lead to further imbalances.
So where is this ideal posture and how can it be evaluated? From the front and side, use the plumb line test. The ideal side view will run through the ear lobe, the tip of the shoulder, the top of the femur, slightly behind the knee joint and the ankle joint.
From the front view the feet are hip-joint width apart with the line passing through the midline of the nose, sternum, belly button and pubic bone. My guess is most of us will not have a perfect score.
To maintain the ideal posture, your spine must have the proper curves. Your body has two inward curves at your neck and lower back and two outward curves along your upper back and hips at the sacral spine.
When the inward curves are correct, it is known as normal lordosis and the outward curves normal kyphosis. When these curves are exaggerated, they are referred to as lordosis and kyphosis, removing “normal” from the definition.
Lordosis is commonly called “swayback,” where the neck and/or lower back have exaggerated curves, causing low back and neck pain. Kyphosis, or “hunchback,” is an exaggerated forward curve in your upper back that can cause pain in the upper back and neck. When the curve in the lower back is non-existent, it is called “Flat Back,” and can cause low back and leg pain.
When rounding your back, the force on the lower back increases dramatically. With correct standing posture being a balanced force of 1.00, or one-hundred percent, lying on your back will reduce the force to 25 percent and on your side 75 percent. When sitting, the force can increase to 140 percent, standing while leaning forward 150 percent and sitting and leaning forward 180 percent, nearly twice that of your correct standing posture.
“Forward Head Posture” indicates that the head extends beyond the shoulders. Forward head is often called “text neck,” so named from texting and computers requiring our neck to move forward.
Considering the average weight of our head is 10 to 12 pounds, our necks support a lot of weight, yet it doesn’t feel heavy as our neck is accustomed to supporting the weight.
However, if you were to carry a 10-pound medicine ball, it would feel heavier because we rarely walk around with a 10-pound medicine ball. Text posture increases the stress by the weight of your head for every inch the head moves forward.
For example, a 10-pound head one inch forward will increase the stress on the neck by 10 pounds, two inches will take the stress to an additional 20 pounds, three inches to 30 and so on. When reading a text message, the stress on your neck can increase to as much as 60 pounds.
Your posture is only as good as your trunk is strong and correcting your posture takes more than your mom pulling your shoulders back. It requires a lot of work and time. Dedicating yourself to core-strengthening exercise through Pilates, yoga and body-weight training on a regular, lifetime basis is key. Begin by working with qualified instructors who will help you strengthen all of the muscles in your torso and progress at the rate that is best for you.
Now let’s make Mom proud and get to work.
Sherrie Hebert is a certified personal trainer and Pilates mat and equipment Instructor. She teaches and trains at Performance Pilates & Personal Training and Gold’s Gym of Pocatello. As an established Idaho State Journal columnist, Sherrie has provided health and fitness information and guidance to her readers for nearly four years.