Posture is one of those things that bring to mind visions of being told to “sit up straight” as a child. But the type of posture that’s good for your spine involves retaining your spine’s natural curvature and alignment as much as possible. If you fail to do this by slipping into poor posture habits, your spine’s bones, discs, nerves, and supporting soft tissues can be affected. Get a better handle on what you can do to improve your posture by learning the truth behind the following six common myths about “good posture.”
Forcing yourself to keep your spine totally straight can do more harm than good, since the human spine has a natural curvature. If you overcompensate and sit or stand too straight, you could experience muscle tension or distort your spine in a way that causes an unnatural alignment. While you shouldn’t slouch or lean forward excessively, you also shouldn’t force yourself into an unnatural body position.
Pushing your chest out in an exaggerated manner and tilting your chin upward can put too much strain on muscles that support your cervical spine, or neck. Exaggerating your neck and lower back curves with this approach to “good posture” could also slow down circulation and contribute to pinched nerves and radiating nerve pain felt in nearby areas.
At first, you’ll have to consciously make an effort to maintain a spine-friendly posture. But your body will naturally get used to your posture improvements as new habits are formed. Good posture will then become second nature as you go about your normal daily routines.
Studies suggest even people in their 80s and 90s can improve their posture and benefit from enhanced mobility, health, and quality of life. In fact, the human body is surprisingly resilient. However, if you’re trying to undo years of poor posture habits, a gradual approach can be more effective and safe. You could do this by:
• Slowly and steadily conditioning your body
• Allowing sufficient time for rest and recovery as you exercise, stretch, and take other steps to improve posture
• Checking with your doctor or Los Angeles spine surgeon to see if there are any other precautions you should take
There’s no single type of “correct” breathing pattern for good posture. It’s best to vary your breathing habits based on your level of activity. For instance, if you’re running or jogging, it makes sense to breathe deeply. Otherwise, take breaths in a way that allows your chest cavity to properly expand and lengthen your back. Doing so also keeps circulation flowing, which helps your spine get the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
Becoming more active doesn’t automatically mean your posture will also improve. If you have underlying health issues or existing spine problems, you’ll need to address those issues as well. However, as your posture improves, it will become easier to be more active as your spine becomes healthier and less stressed.Maintaining good posture is one of the best ways to ensure your long-term spinal health and avoid premature wear and tear that could result in the need for advanced medical treatment, such as spinal fusion surgery. Los Angeles residents who are experiencing severe or long-lasting back or neck pain should reach out to the experienced spine specialists at The Spine Institute. We lead the industry in the use of innovative methods to diagnose and treat all forms of spine-related pain. Give us a call today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.