Here at Central Lakes Physio we are regularly asked “What is the perfect posture?”
Often people think of an upright, erect position as the best posture, however this may not necessarily be the case.
Lead UK physiotherapist and lecturer, Kieran O’Sullivan, last year highlighted the fact that there is little research linking ‘poor posture’ with conditions like back and neck pain. However, as a global community we remain hung-up about having ‘good’ posture.
What is posture?
Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright, against gravity, while standing, sitting or lying down. In the clinic we will often advocate for a more supported natural upright posture as opposed to a slumped, lazy, poky-chin posture – as demonstrated here by our lovely Clinic Manager Gill!
However, this is just a guide and there is not a ‘perfect’ gold standard posture! Any position, if maintained too long, can create pain and tension.
Our bodies are made to move and move regularly!
Think back to our ancestors who spent their time hunting and gathering, then farming and labouring, compared to our lives now, in the 21st century. Many of us tend to live more sedentary lives through our careers, travel and in our downtime.
In Wanaka, we are lucky to be living in such a spectacular paradise with a huge array of outdoor activities on our doorstep, which should make it easier to be active. But if our job requires us to spend long hours sitting behind a desk, working for prolonged periods in awkward positions, driving or being sedentary we can often become prone to aches and pains.
Kieran O’Sullivan supports this and recommends varying posture and moving regularly. He also advocates for addressing other issues which can contribute heavily to back pain, such as keeping healthy, getting adequate sleep and reducing stress levels.
In addition to the focus on posture, studies also highlight that sedentary behaviours – prolonged periods of inactivity or low physical activity – have been linked to chronic health conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and mental health conditions. Therefore, as well as the benefit on your musculoskeletal system for moving regularly – there is also the major overall health and wellbeing benefit.
Our general advice?
- Aim to get up from your desk at LEAST every half hour and spend a few minutes moving
- Ensure you change your sitting postures regularly
- Try to do some exercise EVERY DAY!
- If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, come and see us at Central Lakes Physiotherapy to allow us to help you with exercises and movement to manage your pain.
O’Sullivan, K., et al., 2010. Neutral lumbar spine sitting posture in pain-free subjects. Manual Therapy, 15 (6), pp 557-561.
O’ Sullivan, K., et al., 2012. The effect of dynamic sitting on the prevention and management of low back pain and low back discomfort: a systematic review. Ergonomics, 55 (8)