Updated April 8, 2021, 13:35 IST
Most injuries, aches and pains don’t just happen because of age or by chance, but are the result of long-term stress on body parts, because of faulty body mechanics. A faulty posture originates from bad habits. From childhood, our movement patterns and traits wire our brain. If we sit lopsided or stand with weight on one leg, our brain, over a period of time, assumes that is the new normal. So, when people lie down crooked they think that it is straight. On correction, they say that the corrected position feels crooked.
Postures are of two kinds. One is dynamic when we perform physical activity and the other is static when we are inactive. Both need to be addressed by being aware of them. Corrective exercises help undo the damage caused by faulty body mechanics that go unnoticed. A daily fitness routine should focus on undoing incorrect postures.
Common side effects of bad posture
Body fatigue is a frequent side effect of tight muscles catalysed by faulty body postures. Poor movement and sedentary habits also contribute to tight muscles. The affected body parts hinder physical activity and the added workload results in fatigue.
A rounded shoulder is a mark of bad posture and it leads to neck pain, headaches and even migraine. This progresses often into a hunch back and can even cause breathlessness. Most people don’t realise that they are very shallow breathers with reduced lung function.
People with an irregular heartbeat and chest pain rush to get medical tests to diagnose their problem. Those returning with an all-clear could be merely having tightness in the chest due to poor posture. Constant wheezing and coughing results in tight chest muscles and an erroneous posture. According to Dr Kyle Staller of Harvard Medical School, heartburn and slow digestion are caused by “slouching as it puts pressure on the abdomen which forces stomach acids to move in the wrong direction.”
An incorrect forward head posture produces tightness around the neck and head leading to blocked ears and jaw pain. Constantly standing on one leg, or sitting with one leg up, tilts the hip, degenerating into a deviated waist and navel. This, in turn, irritates the lower back and knees.
Many are unaware of improper foot positions. Unequal pressure on the feet is the root cause of poor foot mechanics. This advances into calf and Achilles pain and can aggravate into bow legs, shin splints and knee surgery. Flat feet and constantly collapsed arches while standing or walking progress into bunions.
Poor posture disturbs blood circulation, leading to varicose veins and nerve constrictions, which pinch nerves in the neck, lower back and shoulder. Accidents can lead to brain and nervous system trauma that affect the body’s posture. Neural and brain exercises help in restoring balance to the left and right side of the body.
Why should one focus on postural and corrective exercises?
Specific postural exercises enhance our performance in activities that we are passionate about like running, sports, hiking, playing cards, chess, travelling, photography, etc. Good body mechanics in all our activities contribute towards a better quality of life, not only in youth but also for continued enjoyment throughout our life — old age is not an impediment.
Postural habits affect our daily activities like standing, sitting, driving, eating, lifting objects, shouldering a bag, opening and closing doors. Unfortunately, there is no established curriculum in school for teaching good body mechanics. In our growing years, our surroundings and situations, and also our reactions to them, shape the way we carry ourselves.
For example, tall children may feel the need to slouch to blend in with the crowd, whereas, heavy breasted girls feel conscious and naturally develop caved in chests and rounded shoulders. Early emotional trauma, fear or lack of confidence directly attacks the gut, leading to weak core muscles, which develops into the lower back and hip pain with age.
We have to learn to use our body correctly not only to function optimally but also to avoid problems like muscle pulls, pains, sprains, injuries, migraine, sleeplessness and much more.