All the actions that the human body performs can be done differently with different postures.
Ergonomics and postural hygiene are focused on performing them safely to reduce the load on the spine and associated muscles.
What is posture and postural hygiene?
Posture is the position that each person adopts when performing their activities, when walking, sitting, standing or sleeping. On the other hand, postural hygiene is a group of alignments to maintain the correct position movement of the body in motion or immobility, in order to avoid injuries and to protect mainly the spine.
Proper posture maintains symmetrical body alignment around the head-spine-pelvis axis with the total weight distributed equitably.
Bad posture does not respect this alignment.
Factors affecting posture
Not only movements done incorrectly or repetitively affect posture, there are factors that may go unnoticed and that noticeably alter.
- Genetic and anatomical factors, like the particularities of birth.
- Mood, tension and stress.
- The objects that are occupied and loaded daily: bed, sofa, bags, work chair, etc …
- Sport or training.
- Sedentary lifestyle.
- Bad nutrition.
- Physological state of the musculoskeletal system.
- Excessive muscle requirement.
Dangers of incorrect postures
Performing efforts and maintaining daily postures correctly reduces the risk of back pain and possible damage to health. On the other hand, not maintaining proper postural hygiene can produce functional and physical disorders that directly affect the quality of life of the person.
1. Hyperlordosis: It appears as a very marked curvature of the spine in the lower back, as if forming a “C” in the lumbar region.
2. Hyperkyphosis: It is the increase in the anterior curvature of the spine vertebral and dorsal.
3. Scoliosis: Structural malformation of the spine that looks like a “C” or “S” shaped curve due to lateral deviation. It alters the spinal flexion and vertebral rotation.
4. Rectifications: They consist of the reduction of normal curvature of the spine, that is, when it is straighter than normal. It can occur at the lumbar, cervical or dorsal level.
Impairments in daily life
1. There is a risk of having more injuries to different parts of the body when overloading some body areas and leaving others unprotected.
2. With a curved spine the abdominal muscles are weakened and they may have a bulging belly.
3. Lumbar pain in the back from being hunched over a lot time, standing or carrying very heavy objects, as more pressure is done on the back and neck.
4. Pains in the center of the back when sitting or standing for a while excessive because of our work routines, for example. Chronic neck and shoulder pain generated by an overload on the last cervical vertebrae by maintaining a fixed position in an incorrect way (typing on the computer or washing dishes).
Also, it usually occurs when there are contractures generated by stress.
5. Tingling and numbness of arms and legs (paresthesia).
6. Impaired appearance, as an incorrect body posture projects an image with more age and weight, while the proper posture provides slenderness and elegance.
7. Muscles and bones can be misaligned, affecting the joints and movement.
8. The spinal column wears down and becomes more fragile.
9. Flexibility and stretching of the muscles is decreased.
9. More falls and injuries can result from impaired balance.
10. Respiration and digestion are difficult due to “trapping” the area of the abdomen with a hunched posture.
Benefits of being aware of the need for a correct body posture.
- It improves breathing and circulation. When people are keep hunched over, the lung capacity decreases, as straightening the oxygen flow increases up to 30%.
- It provides energy. Breathing better favours energy expenditure, it reduces the risk of feeling depressed and limits chronic fatigue.
- It prevents muscle aches, injuries and spinal disorders.
- It distributes correctly the body mass, it avoids lumbago, cervicalgias, and other muscular pains.
- It reduces stress. Sitting upright increases resistance to work and avoid negative emotions. Some studies have published that the level of fear also decreases with a good position.
- It provides a feeling of well-being. By improving breathing and eliminating muscle pain creates a feeling of harmony and comfort.
- It increases self-esteem. You have more confidence in yourself, it generates the feeling of power and encourages positive thoughts.
Prevention and recommendations
To have a proper posture it is necessary:
- Being aware of it during everyday activities.
- Staying active with gentle exercises like yoga, walking, or practice swimming.
- Maintaining a healthy weight to avoid increasing load on the dorsal spine and pelvis.
- Wearing comfortable low-heeled shoes, high heels alter the balance, increase pressure on the muscles and can cause falls.
- Ensuring that working areas have the height proper sitting position, as well as finding the correct postures in our daily habits.
- Performing physical therapy with health experts to eliminate pain and avoid further injury.
Examples of postural hygiene
The best position is on your back or slightly on your side. The knee must be bent a little and the hips and shoulders must be slightly rotated as prevention. The pillow should help the head and neck stay straight with the column. To prevent the hip from dropping, it can be placed a pad between the knees.
Considering the height and back of the chair, the movements required and the tools needed. The feet should rest on the floor and the knees should stay at hip height. The endorsement must present the lumbar curvature with a soft material. You must get up and walk or move every 50 minutes. The necessary objects must be found at the arm distance.
Ironing and cooking
The most important thing is the ergonomics of our equipment and kitchen: the counter and ironing board should be at the level of your navel and the use of a small bench to rest and alternate feet is highly recommended. Taking care of postural hygiene and ergonomics in all daily activities will promote a healthy, and energetic way of life and without pain.