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Posture 101

by | Jan 17, 2021 | Articles, Pilates for Menopause

What is Posture?

Posture is defined as: the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting’ but actually think about posture as constantly changing as we move around and thus dynamic. We must remember that our movement habits emanate from our primitive programming which seeks the most energy-efficient way in which to go about our day; just in case we need to run from a tiger at any point. Unfortunately this propensity for energy efficient movement means muscles are doing the least they possibly can unless we consciously intervene. Hence poor postural habits!

Posture: Does it really matter?

If, like me, you are a woman of a certain age (read post menopausal) it is worth noting that a fairly reliable predictor for the likelihood of osteoporotic spinal compression fracture is the occiput /wall test. The occiput to wall distance (OWD), a measure of kyphosis, has been associated with postural instability, osteoporosis, disability and depression. Reference

To take the test we stand against a wall and measure the distance of the occiput (a bony protuberance at the base of the skull) from the wall. A distance of greater than 7cm can predict the likelihood of a thoracic vertebral fracture with HIGH accuracy.

You can’t choose your family!

There are inherited factors that affect bone development, so. If a close relative has suffered a fracture linked to osteoporosis then your risk of a fracture is likely to be greater than normal. This is not to be taken lightly, as spinal compression fractures impact significantly on the quality of life and occur in nearly 700,000 patients each year.

 

Does poor posture cause injuries?

This is a much debated viewpoint, however in my vast experience although poor postural habits may not be the cause of a muscle or joint problem. It can definitely be the case that postural habits play a significant part in slowing or preventing spontaneous recovery following injury. A simple tip is to ask a friend or family member to video you as you are sitting, standing and walking, ideally when you are unaware. This will draw your attention to any areas requiring attention. It is the unconscious nature of these movement habits that allows perpetuation and guidance and support is often called for to correct and improve posture.

Stand up straight and feel happier!

The connection between posture and mood is a fascinating one for me and a study by Veenstra et al found that a “stooped posture led to more negative thoughts overall compared to straight (or control) postures” If you feel like you could do with a ‘lift’ try standing up tall. Connect your mind to your body and stand with your feet under your hips, knees unlocked, tailbone towards the ground, breastbone lifted, collarbones open, lengthen the back of your neck and grow your head towards the ceiling!

Reference

Posture, Making a change

I recommend you take action sooner rather than later. The good news is Pilates is the perfect antidote to poor posture and it is in my opinion one of the most important things we can do for our bodies (I may be biased). Pilates will help us to develop our awareness of ideal posture and develop our ability to tune into how we hold our bodies as we go about our day. Eventually with practice we will be able to do this regardless of whether we are in class, sitting at a desk, hanging washing, running around with the vacuum, driving to work, feeding a baby, relaxing on the sofa or hitting a golf ball!

Small changes can make a big difference

The general principles when making adjustments to posture are to stretch and release tight/overactive muscles and reeducate and strengthen weakened/inhibited muscles. Making any changes takes regular practice and there is always a possibility that the body may experience an adjustment reaction so guidance and support may be indicated. However if you persevere it will pay off!

Subscribe to receive our FREE ebook and Unlock the secrets to good posture

Pilates for Improved Posture

Boost your mood, build muscle and bone with my Bone Healthy Pilates Online. We will target the major antigravity muscle groups, incorporate the principles of ideal posture and alignment into every movement we make!

Yoga for Improved Posture

Hatha yoga with ‘Precizion’ will challenge your balance, strengthen the muscles which hold you ‘up’ against gravity, load bones and improve your flexibility.

Prefer Something Gentle to begin with?

My Hatha Yoga for Beginners Online sessions will stretch tight muscles and offers an opportunity to put your joints through their full range of movement. Moreover the combination of breath-work and guided meditation will moderate brain activity which in turn positively impact the autonomic nervous system reducing overall levels of stress and anxiety.

Join Phillipa online for Pilates and Hatha Yoga

Author: Phillipa Butler, Chartered Physiotherapist

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Pilates for Menopause for Massage Therapists and Manual Therapists  - NAT Diploma Course with Precizion 10 CEUs

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Interested to learn Pilates or Yoga?

Join Precizion for regular online Pilates and Yoga classes.  All led by Phillipa Butler, a Chartered Physiotherapist, Clinical Pilates and Women’s Health Expert. One-on-one consultations also available.

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