Why Care About “Good” Posture Anyway?

This is not an infrequent question and the sentiment is expressed in different words often in our office. Physical therapists and other health professionals spend time extolling the virtues of “healthy” posture in direct conversations, advertisements and
commercials every day. “Good” posture, known as “efficient” posture in the world of Functional Manual TherapyTM, provides a host of benefits and can help reduce the potential for so many dysfunctions. We will start by defining efficient posture and then
discuss a few key results of efficient posture. Efficient posture places the regions of the body relative to each other in position so that the muscles work the least to maintain a position and the surrounding soft tissues are under the least strain from compression or stretch. Quick example: Sitting like a “boiled shrimp”, that is with the spine collapsed into a C formation and the head jutting forward over the shoulders and the pelvis rolled backwards in the seat, increases the tension in the muscles that would otherwise hold the spine erect. It also compresses the front portion of the disks in the spine and stretches the ligament on the back side of the spine and allows all structures on the front of the body to adaptively shorten and tighten. Efficiently sitting places the majority of the weight of the torso and pelvis on the pelvic floor and the sit bones and distributes the force of gravity over the greatest number of surfaces in the spine and surrounding structures. Far less effort is required to sit erect though most people attempting to do so incorrectly feel the effort of weakened muscles working harder than they would if efficient. As a result, slumped sitting feels more comfortable.

Potential benefits of efficient posture include:

  1. Allowing the core muscles the ability to contract at the right time, with enough
    force and long enough to support the torso when sitting and standing. You are
    able to sit/stand longer with less effort, pain, etc.
  2. Allows deeper breathing because as the diaphragm contracts and drops toward
    the floor when sitting or standing, it requires space in which to drop. If sitting and
    standing efficiently, the rib cage is out of the way of the viscera which drop with
    each inhalation. Breathe deeper, the brain receives more oxygen, you will feel
    more alert and think better.
  3. Movements of the arms are free and less restricted when sitting and standing
    efficiently because, in general, the shoulder blades are in better position allowing
    for greater mobility in the shoulder joints.
  4. Body language experts will tell you that a more upright posture is associated with
    attentiveness and exudes energy which can help when holding conversations for
    business or personal relationships.
    If you begin to sit more efficiently you just may feel and think bette