Posture problems? Stand corrected.


Photo by Brooke Couper

Has the study slouch set in?

Brooke Couper, Reporter

Putting in a bit of effort to improve your posture can pay off in reduced pain, better blood flow, healthier organs and more, according to a local physiotherapist.

Posture is defined as the position in which someone holds their body when standing, sitting, sleeping and occurs during all hours of the day.

Managing Director, Principal Physiotherapist and Certified Posture Specialist, Paul Woodward from the Perth Posture Clinic explained that:“Our bodies are constructed to be in certain alignment and better posture has proven to reduce stress on our spines, reduce back pain, neck pain and headaches, allow for better blood flow, deeper breathing and better functioning of our internal organs and improve our self-confidence.”

The spine is made of 33 individual bones. The bones are then divided into 5 different regions.

  • The cervical is known as the neck region. Its main function is to support the weight of the head and the bones in this region have the greatest range of motion.
  • The upper/mid back region is known as the thoracic. The main function of the thoracic is to hold the rib cage and protect the heart and lungs.
  • The lumbar refers to the lower back region that bears the weight of the body.
  • The sacrum connects the spine to the hip bones, and
  • the Coccyx region is the four fused bones of the tailbone.

Poor posture results from certain muscles tightening up. Some muscles can also shorten, while some lengthen and become weak. Poor posture results from bad habits and muscle imbalances.

According to Woodward, the best ways to improve posture are to be aware and know what to do to improve.

He recommends a series of simple exercises to stretch out your tight muscles and strengthen your weak muscles, which are often the muscles that you hold up against gravity. He said that while an assessment by a health professional, such as a physiotherapist, was the best way to find out where your posture is going wrong, and what exercises you need to improve it, there were other things people could do to support their posture.


Perth Posture Centre
Exercises to improve posture

When sitting at a desk all day, the best way to sit is with your back straight, shoulders back and your buttocks touching the back of your chair. The distribution of your weight should be even on both hips.

Woodward said: “A series of basic stretches that you can perform at your desk for your neck, back and arms should be in every office worker’s daily routine.”

Also try avoiding being in the same position for more than 30 minutes.

Woodward added: “The old advice of setting an alert on your work computer to get up and mover every 30 minutes is very effective. Even if you just get up and walk to the water cooler or the loo, any movement helps.

“The recent trend towards adjustable sit/stand desks has been a great one, allowing office workers to alternate their work time between sitting and standing as much as they like during the day.”

Studies have shown people who use standing desks say it has helped them with shoulder and back pain.

To maximise the benefits of a standing desk it is suggested to alternate between the motion of sitting and standing, adjusting the desk and computer screen, changing the position of your mouse and keyboard and using the arm supports.

One of the best tips Woodward picked up when training as a posture specialist was “your best posture is your next posture, which means MOVE! There is never a better plan than to keep alternating or changing your position.”

Whether we are driving a car, sitting at a desk, standing or lying down gravity exerts extra force on our posture. It’s important to remember that our posture plays a crucial role in allowing us to move correctly and affects our overall health. So sit straighter and walk taller.