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How Posture Affects Our Balance

Did you know that posture can directly impact balance?

So, what is good posture anyway?


When we think of posture, we consider maintaining the 3 natural curves in our spine; we have one at our neck (cervical), mid back (thoracic), and low back (lumbar). Good posture keeps our body working more efficiently placing less stress on our joints, ligaments, bones and muscles. Take a look at yourself from the sideview to assess your posture using the plumb line which is an imaginary straight line!


When looking at your posture from a side view your ear should be in line with your shoulders and your shoulders should be in line with your hips. If your curve at your mid back is increased with excessive forward curvature of the thoracic spine, this is called hyper-kyphosis. An increase in your thoracic curve can be related to aging and can lead to a decline in health. Hyper-kyphosis has been linked to increased mortality, poor balance and low well-being. The reason for increased thoracic kyphosis with aging is unknown however it is thought to be due to degeneration in the spine and dehydration of intervertebral discs. It is also thought that general deconditioning and muscle weakness associated with aging can lead to poor posture of spine and reduced spinal mobility.


When you have poor posture (most common forward head and rounded shoulders) which is common as we get older this tends to shift your center of gravity forward greatly impacting your balance and

increasing your fall risk.



When your posture is altered then you will have difficulty using your normal strategies for balance

control during normal activities. Hyper-kyphosis shifts the line of gravity in the mid spine more forward than where it should be for normal standing. This shift also shifts your center of gravity forward therefore placing more demand on limits of stability and making walking and balance more challenging with this shift. You can have an increase in sway with this and develop more of a fear of falling. Hyper-kyphosis has also been linked to decreased quality of life and general health.


Recently a study by Hyun-Jeong Jang, Lynne Hughes, Duck-Won Oh and Suhn-Yeop Kim found that by performing therapeutic exercise that are designed specifically at mid back flexibility and strengthening that it may be beneficial at improving spinal posture and balance. Working on posture has an impact on overall balance so doing simple breathing exercises, thoracic mobility/stability exercises and awareness exercises can lead to a goal of improving balance and in turn decrease fall risk.


Not sure what to do or where to start? You can contact our clinic and a physical therapist will gladly help you with exercises to correct posture and create an individualized balance program just for you!




Reference:


Effects of Corrective Exercise for Thoracic Hyperkyphosis on Posture, Balance and Well-Being in Older

Women: A Double-Blind, Group-Matched Design, by Hyun-Jeong Jang, Lynne Hughes, Duck-Won Oh and

Suhn-Yeop Kim