Standing posture – How am I supposed to stand?
You have all heard this before but incase you forgot, YOUR POSTURE MATTERS!
Standing posture is something we go over every single day. Whether it is through a Digital Posture Analysis or during each patient’s appointment.
Maybe you were taught by your parents to stand up tall or even to walk around with a book on your head. Where you told to suck in your stomach or pull your shoulders back?… There is a still a lot of confusion as to what good posture is. So let’s talk about it!
I’m going to go over the three common mistakes in terms of positioning first.
Poor posture position 1: Butt tucked / Butt Winking / Pelvic tucking (also called posterior pelvic tilt)
This position is created when the pelvis rotates backwards or posteriorly. It is achieved when someone rounds out their lower back causing the tailbone (coccyx) to move down and forward /tucked under. The pubic bone or pubic symphysis in the front move’s forwards and towards your belly button (up).
This moves your lumbar spine (low back) into flexion, causing your ribs to pull down in a shearing motion that pulls the abdomen into a crunch position tightening the abdominal muscles. This also shortens the hamstrings while lengthening the quadriceps and back muscles. This can cause the feeling of constantly tight hamstrings even though you stretch all the time.
This position also activates the gluteal muscles which can create a sensation of constant butt clenching. A chronically tight butt can affect low back function and tension in the resulting in external hip rotators. This will result in widening of the pelvic floor and weakening of the pelvic floor muscles.
Poor posture position 2: Hyper lordosis / Sticking the butt out:
This position is created by increasing the curvature of the low back which creates an anterior pelvic tilt (i.e. the pelvis rotating forwards). When this happens, the low back goes into hyperlordosis (increased low back curve) and it appears looks like the pelvis is dumping out the front. The hamstrings and abdominal muscles are elongated while the quadriceps and spinal muscles are shortened. This can cause the psoas, hip flexors and spinal erectors to be hyperactive (tight). This is a common position in pregnant women as they compensate for their growing belly.
This position will also elevate the ribs and create an open scissor posture, where the diaphragm and pelvic floor are not stacked. Poor stacking of the core can lead to pelvic floor instability and suboptimal diaphragm function.
Poor posture position 3: Forward sway & Sway back
This is a hybrid of the two previous positions as this person tucks the pelvis but sways their upper back forwards to make it appear like they have a lumbar curve. Truly the low back is in flexion and the thoracolumbar region (mid to lock back) is hyperextended. We commonly see the butt pointing downward, the hips are hyperextended and the knees are fully extended.
Now that we understand some of the common errors in posture let’s discuss what it should look like, we call this ‘Neutral Spine.’
This is the ideal position and is achieved when the diaphragm is aligned with the pelvic floor. The spine and pelvis is not flexed, extended, tilted or twisted. The rib cage is lifted and supported by the abdominal muscles and back muscles and the pelvic floor and diaphragm are stacked upon each other.
Benefits of having a neutral spine:
- Maintain ideal posture and supports and protects the spine
- Improved lung capacity
- Increased strength and mobility
- Distributes load evenly through spinal discs
- Relieves pelvic floor dysfunction including urinary incontinence
- Prevents or decreases muscular imbalances and strain on joints
- Maintains integrity of the core (diaphragm, abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, back muscles)
So how do you get into this position?
- Toes and feet are pointed straight ahead or slightly outward (think 11:00 and 1:00 position on a clock)
- Feet are hip-width apart and weight/pressure is evenly distributed throughout the entire foot
- Shoulders are above your pelvis and your head is stacked above your shoulders
- Chin tucked in as you elongate your neck
- Diaphragm and pelvic floor must be stacked on top of each other
- No rib flaring – making sure ribs are down
- Don’t tilt pelvis forward or backwards
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
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