Good posture means your body is in the position that puts least strain on your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. Good muscle tone is vital for this.
The benefits of good posture:
- It helps to make you and your clothes look good, i.e. it develops self-esteem.
- It helps your heart, breathing and digestive system work properly.
- It helps prevent strain and injury in sport and other activities.
- It makes you less tired because you use less energy.
The penalties of poor posture:
- You don’t look as good as you could, no matter how great your clothes and hair are.
- Your muscles have to work harder so you get tired sooner.
- The strain on bones, tendons and ligaments can lead to injury, e.g. back strain and fallen arches.
- There’s less space for your heart and lungs, which can interfere with their action. Round shoulders make it harder to breathe deeply.
- It can affect you digestion.
- Problems caused by poor posture can take years to put right.
Even when a muscle is relaxed, a small number of its fibres are contracted, enough to keep the muscle taut but not enough to cause movement. This state of partial contraction is called muscle tone. Without muscle tone you could not stand up straight!
To maintain muscle tone without getting tired, groups of muscle fibres take it in turn to contract. They work in relays. Poor muscle tone leads to poor posture. But exercise improves muscle tone. It makes the muscle fibres thicker so they contract more strongly.
When a normal spine is viewed from the rear (posterior view) it appears vertically straight. However, when the spine is seen from the side (lateral view), three curves are revealed resembling a slight 'S' shape. The spine curves gently at the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions. The curves serve as springs in a coil to distribute mechanical stress as the body moves, help the spine to support the load of the head and upper body, and maintain balance in the upright position..
When viewed from the side, the normal spine has three gradual curves:
· The neck has a lordosis; it curves towards the front.
· The thoracic spine has a kyphosis; it curves towards the back.
· The lumbar spine also has a lordosis.
The following anomalies appear when the natural curves of the spine are overly accentuated:
§ Scoliosis: Scoliosis is a musculoskeletal disorder in which there is a sideways curvature of the spine, or backbone, means sideways bending of the spine when standing. Normally when standing your spine forms a straight line from under your head down. In scoliosis this line forms a curve when seen from the front or back. On an X-ray, the spine of an individual with scoliosis looks more like an "S" or a "C" than a straight line. Scoliosis is more common in girls and occurs most often during the growth spurt in early teenage years.
Most times we do not know why this curve happens but some possibilities include unequal pull of back muscles connected to the spine and deformities of one or more bones of the spine.
Small scoliosis curves are rarely noticeable, cause no problems, and are not treated. However, small curves can grow into large curves so if you have scoliosis you will be followed by your doctor until an adult when bone growth stops and their is no further risk of progression. At each visit the degree of curvature is measured by your doctor and compared with the last. If found to be increasing you will then have to wear a brace until an adult which prevents the spine from slipping out of shape any further. If this doesn't work and your spine is visibly misshapen then surgery is done to balance the spine straight again.