Why is posture so important?

As a Physiotherapist I think bad posture is as worthwhile as a beer with Kim Jong-Il or as constructive as Phil Gould’s insights into a game of football. For the sake of this article I need to make a few generalisations, otherwise it will be incredibly long and somewhat boring to the likes of an old Kevin Costner movie and you wont make it to the end. 


I’m simply going to state, poor sitting posture effects you neck the most and poor standing posture effects your back. Firstly the most commonly affected structures in the spine with regards to posture are the facet joints. These joints as shown in figure 1 should be taking about 10% of the load, with the corresponding 90% going through the disc. This load sharing is dramatically altered with poor posture with some reports suggesting upto 80% going through the facets and 20% through the disc.


It is this excessive load bearing that then produces damage and localised inflammation and subsequent pain that can often radiate out from the area. In the short term this can be easily addressed and completely reversed. In the long term this will almost undoubtedly produce significant arthritis that cannot be reversed as the joint has been hammered with way too much load for way too long.


So how can this be altered? Initially just habit. There may be many different issues that need to be addressed and that’s where we come in but if you can address the postural issues yourself that may be most of the battle. 


For the neck look at what your Quasimodospine position is between your shoulder blades. For you lower back, look at what the pelvis is doing and if your Beyonce bum is sticking out. Simply change this and it may make a huge difference alone.


Figure 1. Lumbar facet joints