02 Thu

Perfecting your posture

Perfecting your posture

Written by:  Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CKTP, CGFI


One thing that physiotherapists look at when you come in for a visit is posture.  Your posture can reveal a lot of information about your ability to move and why you have pain or injuries.  But you don’t have to take our word for it.  You’ve probably heard about it all your life.

Your mother was right when she said, “Sit up straight” or “Stop slouching”.  That’s good advice.  With good posture, your spine can be strong and stable.  Without good posture, like when you slouch, the muscles in the back can struggle to keep you upright and balanced and this can create fatigue or pain.

The spine is essentially divided in three parts: the lumbar spine (low back), the thoracic spine (mid back), and the cervical spine (neck).  Each part isn’t straight, each has it’s own curve: an inward curve in the lumbar spine, an outward curve in the thoracic spine, and another inward curve in the cervical spine.  Maintaining these curves distributes the weight of your body evenly and reduces the force on any one section.

Good standing posture includes: head up with the ears in line with the shoulders, high chest, shoulders back and relaxed, the abdominal muscles slightly contracted with the belly in, the feet parallel with your weight evenly distributed between both feet.  You can check this by doing the wall test.  Stand up against a wall with your feet about 3-4 inches away from the wall, the back of your head, your shoulder blades, and your hips should touch the wall.  The space between the wall and your neck and the space between the wall and your lower back should be about an inch or two, wide enough to slide your hand in between.  You should then attempt to keep this posture when you step away from the wall.

Another test you can try is the mirror test.  Standing up straight in front of a mirror, look at your shoulder height and your hips.  They should be level, and the space between your body and your arms should be equal.  You should also try a side view mirror test and look for the straight line I mentioned above.  Your ears and shoulders should be in line, and your knees should be straight and pointing forward, as well as your feet.

This is the basis of what physiotherapists are looking for when they evaluate your posture.  For further inquiry and to find out how you can fix your posture if you miss one of the tests above, see your local physiotherapist.  You can give us a call at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit with us.

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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