Posture is the term used to describe the position of our body parts. As our body position changes from sitting, to standing, walking or laying, so does our posture.
Terms such as "good posture" and "bad posture" are often used to describe the position of someone’s body. For example, if a person was sitting at a desk, slouched, leaning off to one side, with their neck craned towards the computer screen and their shoulders hunched, we might call that a bad posture. It is bad because it places the body, especially the neck and back, in a position where excessive strain or muscle fatigue may arise, especially if sustained for a prolonged period. This may lead to pain.
If that person were to sit with a very straight back, their chin slightly tucked to keep the head “over” the body (rather than in front) and their shoulders relaxed, it would be considered a good sitting posture. It is good because in that posture, minimal strain is placed on the spine and the muscles around the shoulder and neck are less likely to fatigue.
Posture is often habitual, but may also reflect weakness of the postural muscles, or low muscle tone. An awareness of when we adopt a poor posture is one of the most important features of posture training. Poor posture has a huge range of consequences, from back and neck pain, headache, shoulder pain and even eyesight difficulties.
Physiotherapy can help with posture assessment, posture training and ergonomic advice. The consequences of poor posture can be treated with massage, joint mobilisation, joint manipulation, stretching, strengthening, and in some cases, provision of posture aids and supports.