Have you ever noticed someone with really bad posture? What does it make you think? Or have you ever thought or been told you have bad posture? Your partner, colleagues or friends may say stand up straight or sit up straight! Understanding what type of posture you have is the first stage in correcting your posture and bringing yourself closer to better posture.
So what is posture?
First up lets get into some technical terms that can help you understand posture. Here are the names of the common curves in the spine.
Kyphosis or Kyphotic
A kyphotic curve is a curve that moves anteriorly or forwards. It can also be called a convex curve. This type of curve is the typical hunch back where the upper spine is curving forwards. There is supposed to be a natural kyphotic curve in the upper spine or thoracic spine. When your posture comes more forward say from sitting hunched at a desk then this posture will be exaggerated and can then cause dysfunction in the spine, ribs, shoulders or neck. This can then lead to pain such as burning pain between the scapula, shoulder impingements, neck pain, headaches, rib pain, chest pain and more. A kyphotic posture is also one of the most noticeable poor postures as people can see that you are hunching forward. As you get older this posture will become more engrained, like the wrinkles on your face and will tell the story that you have had this posture due to your lifestyle.
Lordosis or Lordotic
There is also a natural lordotic curve in the lower back and in the neck. In the lower back this can be seen as the hollow in the small of the back. When excessive it can be seen as though a person is sticking their bum out or the technical term “ducks bum”. There is also a lordotic curve in the neck as well.
Scoliosis or scoliotic
Scoliosis is a lateral or side bend of the spine. So if you were looking at someone from behind with their shirt off it would look like and S bend in the spine. Scoliosis usually has a component of spinal rotation with it as well meaning that the ribs on one side will look like they stick out further that the other. If you were tilting to the right side ( also called convex left as the cover part of the curve is on the left side) the rotation is to the opposite side. This is due to the way the facet joints glide on each other (a bit more technical for this blog).
Scoliosis is a word that will probably strike fear into your heart, especially if you have it or have been told you have it. We wrote a whole blog about scoliosis which you can read here. The truth is most of us will have some degree of scoliosis and it is perfectly normal. Most general asymptomatic scoliosis is functional, meaning that you may be right handed and work at a desktop computer all day using a mouse. This would mean you will tilt slightly to the right side and therefore over years your spine will being to curve over to that side. This can be reversed.
Structural scoliosis on the other hand is a whole different beast. Structural scoliosis means that this is the way the bones