Is Posture Important?

“Sit up straight.” “Walk tall.” “Chest out, shoulders back.”

Most of us heard these things growing up, whether from our parents or in school, the thinking being that slouching and slumping were bad for the body, especially our spine.

While the advice was well-intentioned, you may have already heard that there has been some change around this traditional way of thinking.

While sitting upright and poking the chest out may send particular body language signals we may want to send, it isn’t actually that relevant to our physical well-being. So why have we been told to do it for so many years?

The evidence underpinning how to best manage our movement health has evolved over the decades (and will continue to do so), but one thing has not and will not change: Movement is Medicine.

The list of benefits from moving our bodies regularly is staggeringly long and varied, but suffice it to say that moving often is likely the single best thing you can do for your overall health. Even if you need to spend hours in a chair every day, this rule still applies. You don’t need to get out of your chair to move your body (although we do encourage regular breaks).

So is there any particular posture for sitting, standing or walking that is best? While there is an argument to be made for some desk ergonomics to reduce the risk of repetitive stress injury, the simple rule to follow with your posture is that the next position is the best position. Put another way, your body was made to move – so change your posture often, rather than maintaining a particular way of holding yourself. Holding one posture for long periods is tiring and unnatural, and your body will let you know this by making you want to relax and fidget. 

What about the ‘form’ we are taught when performing some exercises or lifting weights? The answer to this is a little more nuanced. Maintaining certain postures when we exercise can help us target certain muscles over others for example. Through the lens of injury risk reduction though, all that really matters is the question “is my body ready for this movement and under this load”. There are no bad exercises, just a lack of readiness.

Some people may have understandable concerns over being ‘stuck’ in a particular posture, again especially when it comes to bends or ‘humps’ in the spine. While every individual needs a personalised assessment, this is somewhere that physiotherapy may be beneficial if your limitations are restricting your from doing the things you like or need to do.

So is posture important? If you want to appear in control in an important board meeting, then it may well be. However, if you have your physical health in mind, then fidget, slouch, squat, sit in lotus pose, stretch, whatever you want as long as you keep it varied; it’s easy, free, and while you might look a little funny sometimes, you’ll also probably find that your whole body feels all the better for it. 

Talk to us here in Fox Physiotherapy if you have concerns about your posture, we can offer a full assessment and tailored treatment plan to get you back to feeling your best.

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