At Sittingwell we are interested in whole body health. Yes a lot of this site is focused around back pain but actually a good posture helps your whole body function better.
I’m sure you’re aware of using correct ergonomics when you sit. You may have even had a desk assessment at work and it’s likely the emphasis was on reducing back pain. However with a better posture while you are working (and through the rest of your day), you are getting many more benefits.
Maintaining Great Communication:
The nerves that communicate with your muscles and organs below your head exit between the vertebrae in your back. A poor posture affects the holes these nerves travel though and affect how well your brain and central nervous system send and receive messages from your body.
Muscle tension due to poor posture can also restrict nerve pathways as they travel through your body. This can lead to oversensitive nerves causing tingling, numbness and nerve pain. Have you ever had numbness or tingling in your hands or feet if you’ve been sitting for a long time?
Better alignment of the spine helps to ensure the nerve pathway remains free. It also reduces tension in the muscles that no longer need to work so hard to hold you upright. The natural stacking of the vertebrae does that for you.
Take a Deep Breath:
Slouching compresses the ribcage and restricts the joints between the ribs, vertebra and sternum. This makes it much harder to take in a full breath.
Sitting in good alignment opens up the chest so you take deeper breaths. This means more oxygen into the body and improves energy levels for both body and mind. Improved oxygen intake means more oxygen reaching your muscles, organs and brain helping you feel less tired.
A full breath also gives your organs a helpful massage too as your diaphragm presses down into your abdominal cavity.
A large part of your immune system is your lymphatics. Lymph fluid only flows when you move. The largest concentration of lymph organs and vessels are within the pelvis. Tight clothing, slouching and sitting with a hip angle of 90 degrees or less increases the tension on the lymphatics in this area and slows down the circulation.
Correct posture and loose clothing helps maintain good lymphatic flow and so helps your body to fight off the bad guys.
Keep it moving:
Blood flow can also be restricted by the way you sit. The sitting position in it’s very nature, with the lower limbs being static, can cause blood pooling and lead to numbness and varicose veins.
Sitting with good posture positions your pelvis and spine to naturally support your body weight.
Being out of alignment causes your muscles, ligaments and connective tissues to work harder to keep you upright. Excess muscle tension can restrict blood flow, which again can lead to fatigue and increased blood pressure.
A forward head posture can also cause headaches and increased blood pressure in the skull. The main blood supply to and from the head pass through a small space between your neck vertebrae, throat, collarbone and the neck musculature. Sitting with your chin poking forward tightens the neck muscles and connective tissues which can then put pressure on the blood vessels going to and from the head, hence pressure headaches.
It can affect the eyes too. Reduced blood supply to the head mean less oxygen to the eyes so they tire easily.
Good posture through the spine from the pelvis up brings your head into a balanced position on the top. The the muscles and connective tissues around the head and neck can relax and blood can flow easily.
I mentioned earlier how the diaphragm gives a kind of massage to your abdominal organs when you take a breath. Improved posture can generally have a big impact here too.
Sitting in a slumped position reduces the space for all your abdominal organs. Sitting tall keeps the front of the body open and gives maximum space to those vital organs to work properly.
So yes a good posture does take the strain off your lower back, improves innervation, circulation and muscle tension there and thus reduces the risk of back pain, but by maintaining a good posture you are getting many more benefits and helping your body work at it’s best.