Every person that comes through the Optimum doors during their initial assessment undergoes a postural assessment with an Exercise Physiologist, followed by continual monitoring of your posture. Posture is essentially the position of the body in relation to joint positioning. It can impact heavily on our quality of life – whether the individual’s goal is improving work productivity, optimal sporting performance, being active with the grand kids, or looking to achieve the simple activities of daily living, such as housework.
Good posture can positively influence:
- Work efficiency in desk workers: Adequate blood flow at the femoral artery (crossing the hip), which if compressed can reduce blood flow/oxygen delivery to the brain by up to 50% – seen in prolonged sitting postures.
- Running economy in distance running: Improved muscular and joint efficiency, requiring less force output for each stride.
- Physique appearance: Those with a neutral spinal position appear to have a flatter stomach, where as an over arch in the lower back (anterior pelvic tilt) can lead to a rounded stomach appearance, which may be more postural than abdominal fat related.
Poor posture can negatively influence:
- Fatigue: Secondary muscles acting as prime movers, therefore working overtime.
- Joint stiffness: Short/tight muscles pulling joints in one direction and allowing limited range of motion.
- Reduced breathing volume: Again relating to sitting posture in desk workers, shoulders rounding forward to reach the keyboard. Rounded spinal position reducing lung capacity.
- Back pain: Flexed spinal position, especially in prolonged periods, puts cumulative stress on the intervertebral discs increasing risk of injury.
Physiological influences on posture include: muscular balance, joint and tissue mobility/stiffness, and neural factors related to motor control.
A major example that most people can relate to would be the implications of sitting in a still posture for prolonged periods each day, without a break. The hip flexors are constantly in a shortened position, and as a result, adapt by shortening the muscles. In doing so, the pelvis is pulled out of alignment, the muscles opposing this position (glutes) are weakened and lengthened, and posture is altered at the hip. This leads to an ‘anterior pelvic tilt’ or ’lower crossed syndrome.’ The implications of this posture apply to those listed above.
The Exercise Physiologist can assess the individual posture, determine muscular, joint, and motor control issues, and formulate a plan to restore optimal posture. Latest research shows that ‘Sitting is the New Smoking,’ and that as little as doing something for 5 minutes per hour can negate these effects for those working at a desk. Consult your Exercise Physiologist for an assessment and exercise prescription for appropriate stretches and corrective exercise to perform, and the effective dosage in which to do so.