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Posture effects on Students

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Students often slouch over computers, carry around heavy backpacks and are forced into small desks, all of which can ruin posture.

Tim Derrick, Professor of Kinesiology at Iowa State University, said proper posture plays an important part in keeping the body aligned and pain free.

Most are aware of the importance of proper posture, yet they still continue with bad habits that could lead to headaches, back/neck pain, and even more serious health problems like slipped disks or stretched ligaments. Proper posture also helps make students more presentable for presentations and job interviews.

When bad posture is used for long periods of time, people will start to notice physical effects, starting with fatigue.

When you think posture, most think of sitting or standing straight, but it also involves many body parts including: feet, legs, arms, back, neck and head. Students can take into account the following steps to improve standing and seated posture.

1.    Sit up straight
“[It] will have the effect of actually putting a slight curve into your spine — into the lower back region — and that curve in your spine is a good thing,” Derrick said.

The lumbar curve decreases the muscle activity in the lower back. The lower back muscles are used more when the curve is eliminated from slouching. Over use of these muscles causes the ligaments in the back to take over and become stretched which leads to various back and neck problems.

Derrick suggested “Placing a small, rolled up jacket or towel behind your lower back when possible will assist even further in maintaining the natural curve in the spine.”

2.    Feet Flat on the Floor
According to the American Chiropractic Association when sitting, feet should be placed flat on the floor with ankles slightly in front of the knees and legs uncrossed.

3.    Arms at your side
Arms should be at your side with the weight of the arms right below the shoulder, which is the position used while typing or writing. Outstretched arms forces more muscles to contract for longer periods of time.

4.    Head Straight
The head should look straight ahead instead of at a downward angle. “Laptops are especially bad for posture when used for an extended period of time,” Derrick said. Use a desktop computer when able or get a keyboard that plugs into your laptop to separate the screen and keyboard for better posture.

5.    Evenly Distribute Weight
When standing be sure to evenly distribute weight. Use both backpack should straps and carry some books in your arms to help disperse the weight and lessen the strain caused by the weight.

The ACA suggests the following for proper posture while standing: bear weight primarily on the balls of the feet, shoulders back, stomach tucked in, feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent.

With heavy backpacks, extended computer use, nonadjustable desks and more, correct posture for students is hard to maintain! Students can have better spinal alignment and less discomfort by implementing small posture adjustments and making them regular habit.

Source: Iowa State Daily