Originally posted on StarDispatch.com
In the world of ergonomics and posturepedics, busty women aren't on the system's radar. Search all the infographics about proper sitting posture at the computer: you'll find a dearth of information on the plight of women with above average sized breasts. Dr. Merissa Graydon of Starfleet Medical and I are here to fill up your cup with knowledge.
Nora Charles: Dr. Graydon, why does breast size matter when it comes to posture?
Dr. G: Bigger breasts weigh more, obviously. Heavier things have a greater force exerted on them due to gravity. A bowling ball is much harder to hold up in the air than an identical ball made of styrofoam.
Think of your back as a large stick attached to a pivot - your waist. Lean forward a little and imagine a bowling ball attached to your chest. Think you might just topple forward and land on your keyboard? That's torque.
NC: I always think of car movies when someone mentions torque – like a car has 300 some pounds of torque. What's the ideal torque for posture?
Dr. G: Zero. Zero torque means that you're not falling over — either forward or back. So whatever torque you have up top due to the weight of breasts must be balanced by another torque in the other direction caused by the muscles in your lower back. If those muscles have to work too hard, there can be serious pain!
NC: Let's talk about Kate Mulgrew - Captain Janeway of the Voyager. She really knows how to throw her shoulders back and command the bridge. What would happen to her back and neck if she slouched in space and at warp speed?
Dr. G: Slouching increases the torque caused by the breasts. Try this experiment sometime — grab a heavy book and hold it in your hand with your arm vertical. Now try lowering your arm a little. The lower you go (the bigger the angle from the vertical), the harder it is to hold up! Keeping your back straight and your shoulders back accomplishes two things: 1. It minimizes that angle, and 2. It puts the shoulders back so that they're not adding to the torque from the breasts; they're counterbalancing it instead.
NC: I feel like we need a song now. "Girl, Push Your Shoulders Back." What do you think?
Dr. G: Dancing is definitely in order! Just watch your back!