Richard Stoneking.

Your backbone is the key to good posture, and strong, solid posture is the back bone of feeling good and staying active. Many people, however, don’t stand straight. Their heads droop, their shoulders round, their backs slump.

Over time, poor posture causes muscle weakness or tightness. Slumping while watching TV or using a computer may throw your spine out of alignment. Carrying heavy bags or uneven loads worsens the problem. Our parents and grandparents were onto something when they told us to sit up straight and stand erect.

Perfecting your posture requires a lot of attention initially, but with practice it becomes second nature. Good habits build good posture, and good posture gives you more energy and fewer aches and pains.

Posture is the position of your body while standing, sitting, and performing daily tasks. When your body is properly aligned, it is well balanced, with minimum stress and strain on supporting structures such as bones, ligaments, and muscles.

Good posture also provides appropriate positioning for your inner organs. Keeping your body straight gives your lungs the space they need for full expansion, and keeping your abdominal muscles tight provides support for intestinal and pelvic organs. Posture affects breathing and arm and neck movements.

It even affects how your jaw works and the way you chew. To see just how important posture is to well-being, try these 2 simple movements.

While standing, move your head forward; jut your chin out and increase the curve in the back of your neck. Round your shoulders and slump. Now do each of these 3 movements:

  1. Turn your head side to side.
  2. Raise both arms over your head.
  3. Tap your teeth together.

Now pull your chin in, lengthen your neck, and look straight ahead. Bring your shoulders back. Straighten your back, suck in your stomach, and repeat the same 3 movements.

  1. Turn your head side to side.
  2. Raise both arms over your head.
  3. Tap your teeth together.

Notice the difference. Do you feel how much easier it is to move your head, arms, and jaw when you are well aligned?

Symmetry is an important aspect of good posture. Your body should be aligned equally side to side and back to front. When your body is in balance, it requires less work to stay erect. If your body is asymmetrical, some areas have to work more than others in order for you to maintain an upright position. Habitual, prolonged, unequal alignment results in more wear and tear on your body as you age.

Consult your physical therapist should you wish to avoid or correct a goose-necked, round shouldered posture.

Ewing native Richard Stoneking has been a physical therapist since 1979 and in private practice in New Jersey since 1989. Stoneking brings a broad background of experience to his patients having worked in the home health, hospital acute care, and skilled nursing setting. To learn more, visit stonekingptwellness.com or call (609) 883-7528 to make an appointment.