How many times have you heard your mother say, “stand up straight!”. She was talking about your posture. It is common knowledge that not only a good posture can make you appear your best, but it also impacts your long-term health. Prolonged poor posture can cause pain and injury in your neck and back. Making sure that you hold your body the right way, whether you are moving or still, can prevent chronic pain, injuries, and other health problems.
What is posture?
Posture is how you hold your body. There are two types:
- Dynamic posture is how you hold yourself when you are moving, like when you are walking, running, or bending over to pick up something.
- Static posture is how you hold yourself when you are not moving, like when you are sitting, standing, or sleeping.
Posture is dependent on the position of your spine. Your spine has three natural curves – at your neck, mid back, and low back. Correct posture should means maintaining these curves. Your head should be above your shoulders, and the top of your shoulder should be over the hips.
Why is posture important to your health?
Poor posture can cause many problems. Slouching or slumping over can:
- Misalign your musculoskeletal system leading to neck, shoulder, and back pain.
- Worsen spine joint degeneration, making it more fragile and prone to injury
- Decrease your flexibility
- Affects joint movement
- Affects balance and increase your risk of falling
How can I generally improve my posture?
Be aware of your posture during everyday activities, like watching television, washing dishes, or walking.
- Stay active. Any kind of exercise may help improve your posture, but certain types of exercises can be especially helpful. Exercises such as yoga and tai chi. It is also a good idea to do exercises that strengthen your core (muscles around your back, abdomen, and pelvis).
- Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight can not only weaken your abdominal muscles but can cause problems for your pelvis and spine and contribute to low back pain.
- Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. High heels, for example, can throw off your balance, put more stress on your muscles, and force you to walk differently.
- Work surfaces height: Make surfaces a comfortable height for you, whether you’re sitting.
How can I improve my posture when sitting?
Many of us spend a lot of their time sitting – either at work, at school, or at home.
- Take frequent brief walks around your office or home
- Gently stretch your muscles every so often to help relieve muscle tension
- Don’t cross your legs; keep your feet on the floor, with your ankles in front of your knees
- Make sure that your feet touch the floor, or if that’s not possible, use a footrest
- Relax your shoulders; don’t round them or pull them backwards
- Keep your elbows in close to your body. Keep them bent between 90 and 120 degrees.
- Make sure that your back is fully supported. Use a back pillow or other back support if your chair does not have a backrest that can support your lower back’s curve.
- Make sure that your thighs and hips are supported. You should have a well-padded seat, and your thighs and hips should be parallel to the floor.
How can I improve my posture when standing?
- Stand up straight and tall
- Keep your shoulders back
- Pull your stomach in
- Put your weight mostly on the balls of your feet
- Keep your head level
- Let your arms hang down naturally at your sides
- Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart