The importance of correct posture

How is your posture right now? Are you slouched over, shoulders leaned forward with your head tilted down? Chances are by merely asking the question your posture noticeably improved. You may have straightened you back, engaged your abs and sat or stood tall.

Everyone is guilty of occasional slouching, or maybe you’re guilty of slouching all day, but it’s time to change that! Good posture is one of the most important habits you can create for yourself to keep your back healthy and pain-free. In order to make good posture a good habit, it’s important to know why good posture benefits you, what causes bad posture, and how you can improve your posture.

Good Posture: What is it?

Good posture is training your body to walk, sit, lie down, or stand in a position that puts the least strain on your muscles and ligaments. It aligns your body to be supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity.

Good Posture: Why is it important?

Other than not looking sharp, are there other negatives to poor posture? Turns out, there definitely are. When you slouch or slump over your spine is being affected which can lead to poor circulation, headaches, and can cause your vertebrae to deteriorate over time. Chronic back, shoulder, and neck pain are commonly associated with poor posture as well as chronic fatigue which occurs from poor circulation and leads to exhaustion.

Good posture:

  1. Reduces stress on joints and ligaments to prevent injury.
  2. Prevents muscle strain, overuse and back pain.
  3. Keeps bones and joints in alignment so your muscles use them correctly. It decreases irregular wearing of joints which can result in arthritis and joint pain.
  4. Prevents muscle fatigue by allowing muscles to use less energy and work more efficiently.

Bad Posture: What are common causes?

Bad posture can come in a variety of forms but is commonly caused by repetitive motion without frequent breaks. If you spend the majority of your day in one position without altering it, your spine tends to orient itself to that movement or position. For example, if you’re consistently slouched over at a computer, or if you constantly bend over to pick up objects off the ground, your spine can develop an exaggerated forward curve. Over time, this position of bad posture may begin to feel normal.

Other causes include physical injuries, chronic muscle tension, and even emotional trauma caused by depression or continued grief. These conditions are capable of throwing your musculoskeletal system out of alignment and may need to be corrected.

Tips: How can you improve your posture?

Glad you asked. If you currently have bad posture, it can be helped! In order to change a bad habit, it requires replacing it with a good habit (i.e. good posture!).

As stated above, good posture involves using your muscle tension to the right degree against gravity. Exercise and strength training to build muscles in your back and abs will help you sit or stand straighter and hold your spine in better alignment. Avoid slouching over by engaging your ab muscles. Make sure your back and neck are straight and your shoulders are back and aligned when standing or sitting.

If you have a desk job or make consistent, repetitive moments, make sure to get up and walk around, take a break, or alter your movements to give your body and posture a break from the monotony.

Also, consider your foot placement. Your spine may be straight as an arrow, but if your foot placement is unnatural and uncomfortable, this will cause problems. If your feet naturally roll inward, your knees will bend causing your back to slouch. Make sure to wear comfortable and supportive shoes and keep your feet upright for best posture.

By being aware of when you’re slouching or leaning forward and practicing good posture, you can develop new, healthy habits to replace the bad ones. With good posture you’ll experience less back pain and decrease your chances of having significant back issues later in life. You can start today by taking these steps to better posture. On that note, how is your posture now?