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Guide to Good Posture

Good posture is about more than standing up straight so you can look your best. It is an important part of your long-term health. Making sure that you hold your body the right way, whether you are moving or still, can prevent pain, injuries, and other health problems.

What is posture?

Posture is how you hold your body. There are two types:

  • Dynamic posture is how you hold yourself when you are moving, like when you are walking, running, or bending over to pick up something.
  • Static posture is how you hold yourself when you are not moving, like when you are sitting, standing, or sleeping.

It is important to make sure that you have good dynamic and static posture.

The key to good posture is the position of your spine. Your spine has three natural curves - at your neck, mid back, and low back. Correct posture should maintain these curves, but not increase them. Your head should be above your shoulders, and the top of your shoulder should be over the hips.

How can posture affect my health?

Poor posture can be bad for your health. Slouching or slumping over can:

  • Misalign your musculoskeletal system
  • Wear away at your spine, making it more fragile and prone to injury
  • Cause neck, shoulder, and back pain
  • Decrease your flexibility
  • Affect how well your joints move
  • Affect your balance and increase your risk of falling
  • Make it harder to digest your food
  • Make it harder to breathe
How can I improve my posture in general?

  • Be mindful of your posture during everyday activities, like watching television, washing dishes, or walking
  • Stay active. Any kind of exercise may help improve your posture, but certain types of exercises can be especially helpful. They include yoga, tai chi, and other classes that focuses on body awareness. It is also a good idea to do exercises that strengthen your core (muscles around your back, abdomen, and pelvis).
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight can weaken your abdominal muscles, cause problems for your pelvis and spine, and contribute to low back pain. All of these can hurt your posture.
  • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. High heels, for example, can throw off your balance and force you to walk differently. This puts more stress on your muscles and harms your posture.
  • Make sure work surfaces are at a comfortable height for you, whether you're sitting in front of a computer, making dinner, or eating a meal.
How can I improve my posture when sitting?

Many Americans spend a lot of their time sitting - either at work, at school, or at home. It is important to sit properly, and to take frequent breaks:

  • Switch sitting positions often
  • Take brief walks around your office or home
  • Gently stretch your muscles every so often to help relieve muscle tension
  • Don't cross your legs; keep your feet on the floor, with your ankles in front of your knees
  • Make sure that your feet touch the floor, or if that's not possible, use a footrest
  • Relax your shoulders; they should not be rounded or pulled backwards
  • Keep your elbows in close to your body. They should be bent between 90 and 120 degrees.
  • Make sure that your back is fully supported. Use a back pillow or other back support if your chair does not have a backrest that can support your lower back's curve.
  • Make sure that your thighs and hips are supported. You should have a well-padded seat, and your thighs and hips should be parallel to the floor.
How can I improve my posture when standing?

  • Stand up straight and tall
  • Keep your shoulders back
  • Pull your stomach in
  • Put your weight mostly on the balls of your feet
  • Keep your head level
  • Let your arms hang down naturally at your sides
  • Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart

With practice, you can improve your posture; you will look and feel better.

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

What is progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)?

Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is a rare brain disease. It happens because of damage to nerve cells in the brain. PSP affects your movement, including control of your walking and balance. It also affects your thinking and eye movement.

PSP is progressive, which means that it gets worse over time.

What causes progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)?

The cause of PSP is unknown. In rare cases, the cause is a mutation in a certain gene.

One sign of PSP is abnormal clumps of tau in nerve cells in the brain. Tau is a protein in your nervous system, including in nerve cells. Some other diseases also cause a buildup of tau in the brain, including Alzheimer's disease.

Who is at risk for progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)?

PSP usually affects people over 60, but in some cases it can start earlier. It is more common in men.

What are the symptoms of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)?

Symptoms are very different in each person, but they may include:

  • A loss of balance while walking. This is often the first symptom.
  • Speech problems
  • Trouble swallowing
  • A blurring of vision and problems controlling eye movement
  • Changes in mood and behavior, including depression and apathy (a loss of interest and enthusiasm)
  • Mild dementia
How is progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP0 diagnosed?

There is no specific test for PSP. It can be difficult to diagnose, because the symptoms are similar to other diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.

To make a diagnosis, your health care provider will take your medical history and do physical and neurological exams. You may have an MRI or other imaging tests.

What are the treatments for progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)?

There is currently no effective treatment for PSP. Medicines may reduce some symptoms. Some non-drug treatments, such as walking aids and special glasses, may also help. People with severe swallowing problems may need gastrostomy. This is a surgery to insert a feeding tube into the stomach.

PSP gets worse over time. Many people become severely disabled within three to five years after getting it. PSP isn't life-threatening on its own. It can still be be dangerous, because it increases your risk of pneumonia, choking from swallowing problems, and injuries from falling. But with good attention to medical and nutritional needs, many people with PSP can live 10 or more years after the first symptoms of the disease.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Walking Problems

What are walking problems?

If you are like most people, you walk thousands of steps each day. You walk to do your daily activities, get around, and exercise. It's something that you usually don't think about. But for those people who have a problem with walking, daily life can be more difficult.

Walking problems may cause you to:

  • Walk with your head and neck bent over
  • Drag, drop, or shuffle your feet
  • Have irregular, jerky movements when walking
  • Take smaller steps
  • Waddle
  • Walk more slowly or stiffly
What causes walking problems?

The pattern of how you walk is called your gait. Many different diseases and conditions can affect your gait and lead to problems with walking. They include:

  • Abnormal development of the muscles or bones of your legs or feet
  • Arthritis of the hips, knees, ankles, or feet
  • Cerebellar disorders, which are disorders of the area of the brain that controls coordination and balance
  • Foot problems, including corns and calluses, sores, and warts
  • Infections
  • Injuries, such as fractures (broken bones), sprains, and tendinitis
  • Movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease
  • Neurologic diseases, including multiple sclerosis and peripheral nerve disorders
  • Vision problems
How is the cause of a walking problem diagnosed?

To make a diagnosis, your health care provider will ask about your medical history and do a physical exam. This will include checking your bones and muscles and doing a neurological exam. In some cases, you may have other tests, such as lab or imaging tests.

What are the treatments for walking problems?

Treatment of walking problems depends on the cause. Some common types of treatments include:

  • Medicines
  • Mobility aids
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery