Stiff stances that succumb to the confines of the office chair, rebellious banana-shaped bodies, and slouched shoulders, all can put a person’s spine health in dire straits. Postural deformities are abnormalities that occur in the normal curvature of the spine, that places it out of alignment.
The curvature of the spine allows the body’s weight to be distributed evenly and helps to absorb any shocks. Any disarrangement can put the entire equation off. Postural deformities can be caused by different reasons. Weak muscles, trauma or injury that one has had can sometimes heal improperly leading to postural deformities. Conditions that arise with old age such as arthritis, and neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease due to which muscle control is impaired, or the natural wear and tear that occurs as a result of age can be some other reasons. The temporary changes caused by pregnancy can also lead to postural deformities. Obesity is another reason. Other common factors include environmental and occupational factors like wearing ill-fitting shoes, carrying heavy objects, a sedentary lifestyle, etc.
How can posture affect my health?
Posture can have a significant impact on health in several ways:
- Poor posture can cause discomfort in the back leading to pain, strain in the muscles, neck pain, and headaches.
- It can also cause spinal problems, such as misalignments leading to common postural deformities, herniated discs, and reduced mobility.
- Slouching or hunching can affect your respiratory health by compressing the chest cavity, making it harder to breathe.
- Poor stance also impedes blood flow, potentially leading to varicose veins and an increased risk of blood clots in the deep veins.
- Digestion can be affected as the abdomen is compressed. It can also lead to issues like acid reflux and constipation.
Importance of Posture
Good posture plays a significant role in an individual’s physical and psychological well-being and health. Proper alignment of the spine ensures that the body’s musculoskeletal system functions optimally, reducing the risk of chronic pain associated with common postural deformities. It also helps in the distribution of body weight evenly, minimizing strain on muscles and joints. Beyond physical benefits, posture significantly influences one’s self-esteem. A fit, upright posture exudes self-assuredness and positively impacts interpersonal relationships.
The Types of Postural Alignment
The characteristics of good posture involve erectness, balance, alignment, and ease. The natural curves in the spine which form the S shape help in distributing the body weight, maintaining balance and alignment, and easing the stress on the muscles. The neutral position or good posture is when the hips, pelvis, and spine all line up vertically.
Common postural deformities can occur when the natural curve is affected and an individual’s body manifests odd types of posture. Postural deformities, although usually not categorized as medical emergencies, can sometimes give rise to complications that necessitate the intervention of an emergency medical services. Situations where a person is in severe pain, has difficulty breathing, or is showing neurological symptoms, accident, or injury can each be detrimental and require you to call an ambulance service.
Kyphosis is one of the types of postural deformities that occur due to the extreme forward curvature of the upper back. The back appears rounded forward, leading to a “hunchback” appearance.
A flatback occurs when the neutral position of the spine is disturbed and the pelvis tilts backward. The natural arch of the back is reduced resulting in a straight rod-like look.
It is a condition characterized by an exaggerated inward curve of the lower back. This is one of the postural deformities in which the back and abdomen appear to protrude more prominently.
This one charts the list of among the most common postural deformities. Also commonly known as “text-neck”, it is an excessive forward curvature of the neck such that the head is positioned in front of the shoulders. It is usually caused by spending excess time with your head tilted downwards on screens or carrying a heavy backpack.
Postural deformities can be caused due to other reasons such as genetics, like a congenital deformity, surgical side effects, or sometimes idiopathic causes.
How Can I Make Sure I Have Good Posture?
Maintaining a good neutral spine position is the goal of having a good posture. Regularly check your posture, your spine, shoulder, and hip alignment as you go about your daily activities. Stay fit and maintain weight to sustain good natural posture.
What is Bad Posture?
Bad posture occurs when your spine moves out of its neutral alignment and natural gentle curvature. One of the reasons for postural deformities is having a bad posture.
How to Improve Bad Posture
Following are some tips that you can follow to ensure that you are not exhibiting unnatural types of posture:
- Ensure your workspace or study space is ergonomically designed to promote good posture. Use a good chair that can support your neutral posture. While you are at your workspace or your study, make sure that you sit upright with your feet flat. Avoid crossing your legs for long periods while you sit. When you use electronic devices, make sure that it is at an eye level. Do not slouch over your device for extensive periods. Take frequent short breaks, stretch, and walk around to reduce tension on your muscles.
- Regular exercise is necessary to maintain a fit and healthy body. There are several exercises that you can do to combat bad posture and keep your muscles strong and flexible. You can do planks to strengthen your abdominal and back muscles, which provide support to the spine. Basic stretching and shoulder exercises are also beneficial. It is essential to be conscious of what caused your bad posture to correct it.
- While sleeping, make sure that you sleep straight and choose a good mattress that supports your back. Avoid using too many pillows propped up to lay your head, as it can ruin your neck posture.
Maintaining a good posture is a habit and can take time to build into your life. Be patient and aware of your posture and practice gradually to become consistent at maintaining proper posture.