Your parents probably told you to ‘sit up straight’ when you were younger. They probably told you not to slouch and to walk with your head held high.
As a child, you probably thought that this was just another excuse for your parents to nag you about something but there’s power in their words!
Even if you aren’t a top-level athlete, posture still plays a major role in your overall health and well-being. It’s relevant to those of you who have an office job, a more active job, a sedentary lifestyle, or a highly physical lifestyle. No matter who you are or what you do, posture is important.
In this article, we’re going to talk about what posture is, why it’s important, and how you can improve it.
What is Good Posture?
Posture refers to the alignment and positioning of your body when you’re sitting, standing, or lying down. It’s the accumulation of behaviors and habits over the course of several years, and it can change throughout your lifetime based on your movement patterns.
Good posture refers to the following stance:
- Chin parallel to the ground
- Head and neck in line with the spine
- Eyes looking forward
- Shoulders relaxed and neutral (not rolled forward or pushed too far backward)
- Neutral spine (the spine has a natural curvature but this should not be overemphasized in any portion of the spinal column)
- Arms down by your side with the elbows relatively straight, but with a natural bend
- Hips even and neutral
- Knees pointing forward and even
- Weight distributed evenly between both legs and a neutral center of gravity
If you’re sitting down, your hips and knees should be bent at 90 degrees and your feet should be flat on the floor, facing forwards.
What Are the Benefits of Good Posture?
There are several benefits to having good posture, including:
- Reduced neck pain
- Reduce upper and lower back pain
- Improved circulation
- Improved digestion
- Enhanced muscle and joint function
- Better muscle strength and flexibility
- Improved movement patterns
- Better exercise performance
- Better spinal health and alignment
- Increased lung capacity
- Increased energy levels
- Better core strength
- Improved confidence
How Can You Improve Posture?
The first step to improving your posture is taking note of your current posture. Consider which areas of your body might be misaligned so you know where to focus your efforts when trying to improve your posture.
Here are some great ways to overcome and fix posture mistakes.
Regularly Check in With Your Posture
Checking your posture might not be the first thing on your mind when you’ve got a huge to-do list. It might feel unnatural to take note of how you’re sitting or standing at first but you will get used to checking in with yourself the more you do it.
If you need to, set an alarm at regular intervals throughout the day to remind you to check your posture and make the necessary adjustments to improve it.
Get the Right Office Chair
When you’re sitting in a chair for several hours a day, it’s important that it supports your whole body. If you’re wondering how to choose the best desk chair for work or home, focus on comfort and support.
Your office chair should sit at the right height for your knees to bend at 90 degrees and your feet to comfortably rest on the floor. It should support and protect your lower back, and feel comfortable enough for you to sit down for long periods of time.
A lot of us have sedentary jobs where we end up sitting at a desk for several hours a day. Reduced movement can quickly lead to poor posture when you’re hunched over a computer all day at your work desk.
Throughout the workday, make sure you’re getting up and walking around to stretch your legs and reduce muscle tension. This will improve your posture and posture by getting your muscles and joints moving.
It’s also good to make a conscious effort to get more physical activity into your week. Sign up for the gym, join a running club, or take up a form of yoga.
Find a form of exercise that you enjoy so that you can improve your muscle strength and flexibility. When your muscles are strong and toned, you will find it easier to stand or sit up straight and keep your core engaged.
Be Wary of Text Neck
Text neck refers to the posture that you have when you’re scrolling on your phone. Your neck is flexed and your head is facing down, with your chest towards your chest.
Many of us find that we are in this flexed position for several hours every day, whether we’re scrolling on social media, texting a friend, or looking down at a laptop.
While it’s okay to flex your neck and look down every so often, doing so for multiple hours a day can lead to text neck. This is the informal term for the upper body pain and tightness that is caused by constantly looking down at your phone.
To avoid text neck, try holding your phone at eye height and elevate your laptop so that you don’t need to look down at it when you’re working. Take some time to stretch your neck every day, focusing on the muscles at the front and side of your neck.
Avoid Wearing Heels
As classy and stylish as heels can look when you’re at work or going out to a nightclub, they aren’t the best for your posture. Heels elevate your feet in an unfavorable position and this can have a knock-on effect on the alignment of the rest of your body.
When your heels are raised, it can cause your calves to tighten. Your knees and hips can become misaligned and this can lead to misalignment of the spine. Regularly wearing heels for several years can impact your posture, and cause muscle tightness and pain.
To improve your posture, ditch the heels and go for a smart pair of brogues or some comfortable canvas pumps.