Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes
February 15, 2017
Whether you're a new or experienced wheelchair user, I encourage you to think about your posture right now. Chances are I may have caught you slouching. But why does it really matter? To answer that, let's first define what posture means.
Posture is the way in which your body is aligned during everyday activity. In the case of individuals with an SCI, correct posture begins with an appropriately-equipped and correctly-fitted wheelchair. For the same reason that we don't build houses on faulty foundations, we can't expect to acheive and maintain good posture in a chair that isn't suited for your body or level of injury. While a proper wheelchair setup is a critical first step to facilitate optimal posture and function, it doesn't necessarily guarantee it.
First make sure your hips are as far back in the chair as possible. Think about getting tall and lifting your chest up, like string is pulling you upward from your breastbone. Set your shoulders back and slightly down and then gently tuck your chin. Now check to see if your ear, shoulder, and hip are stacked on top of one another. If everything is lined up, you're right where you want to be!
Posture has a huge impact on the way your muscles and joints move and function. If you're spending most of your time slouched in your chair with rounded shoulders, you're not using your body to its fullest potential. Poor posture limits your strength and function, and puts you at significantly higher risk of developing pain and injury.
Shoulders can be particularly vulnerable to postural faults, and are a common area of concern for many people at some point in their lifetime. For those who rely on their arms for wheeling, transferring, and performing daily tasks, maintaining shoulder health is absolutely critical to keep up one's quality of life and level of independence, and good posture is an essential component of this.
If any of the above applies to you and you think you could benefit from improving your posture, talk to your doctor and seek out the care of a physiotherapist.
- Lee Stevens, Physiotherapist, Craven SPORT services
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Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.