“Sit up straight and don’t slouch! “ I am sure most of us get this scolding growing up from our parents. We are always being taught that we sit up and don’t slouch while doing the daily activities. Our parents are always concerned about our body posture as it might make us look bad. But not just bad posture impacts our personality but also have a major impact on our health be it neck or back pain to blood flow to respiration it majorly impacts how we live and how we feel about our body every day.
But what does posture refer to and why it is important to maintain a good body posture?
Posture basically refers to body’s positioning and alignment with respect to the force of gravity. Whether we are sitting, standing or lying down the force of gravity exerts force to our ligaments, joints and muscles.
Good posture distributes this force of gravity to our body so that not just one part of the body is over stressed. It gives the body ease of movement, proper positioning of the spine, good body balance, flexibility and proper functioning of internal organs so that your body feels good and when your body is good you feel best. A good posture not only makes you look slim, tall and more confident about you but also enhances your overall personality. As far as health benefits are concerned it prevents back, hip, knee and neck pain giving diaphragm and rib cage to expand more when we breathe.
Not just body benefits good posture also shows that you are alert, engaged and interested in what’s going on around you especially when you are in front of an audience delivering something your nonverbal cues speak louder than your words.
But to possess a good posture you have to make little changes throughout the day to involve your body parts to create a foundation of a good posture as good posture can be elusive.
Here are few reasons why good posture is beneficial and important for your health:
Portrays a confident image
Posture portrays confidence and if you have a good body posture it will definitely boost up your self-confidence. To check stand in front of a mirror take a deep breath and stand straight with a straight spine. And then slouch over with a poor posture. You yourself can feel the difference. Standing tall will make you feel more confident. Think of people around you whom you see as a confident person and notice their body posture. You will find people who have a good posture and stand tall portrays confidence.
Improves circulation and digestion
An improper slouched posture is a major contributing factor to digestion problems like constipation, acid reflux ad even hernias. Proper posture, on the other hand, allows the internal organs in the abdomen to get their natural position without any excess compression (which interferes with the normal flow of gastrointestinal apparatus) and hence improves the overall digestion of the body. Good posture also enhances the flow of blood by facilitating breathing hence improving blood circulation as well.
Keeps your spine healthy
Correct posture is a very important factor to keep the complicated structures of back and spine healthy. Back support is quite essential for the people who spends hours working in front of the computer and spend most of their time sitting. No maintaining adequate back support can strain muscles and also put stress on the spine. The stress caused due to poor posture can lead to constricting of blood vessels and nerves. Sitting and standing with proper posture alignment allows one to work efficiently with less strain on body muscles and ligaments. As your mommy says Sit up straight follow that religious to keep your spine healthy.
Helps your joints and muscles
Correct posture keeps bones and joints in alignment so that muscles are used correctly and thus decreases the chances of abnormal wearing of joint surfaces which can ultimately lead to arthritis and joint pain. A good posture allows muscles to work properly and also reduces stress on ligaments holding spinal joints. It prevents muscle fatigue, muscle strain, back or muscular pain and also overuse disorders.
Changes your frame of mind
Posture highly affects your frame of mind and vice versa. When you are happy and on top of the world your posture is upright and open. On the other hand, when you are depressed and in pain you often sit and stand slumped. Good posture in standing or sitting makes it easier to breathe fully and also helps in relaxation and concentration. So next time when you feel depressed to try changing your posture stand up straight and breathe deeply so that you can relax and trust me you’ll feel quite calm after this.
Makes breathing easier and deeper
We are mostly told to sit straight when we visit a doctor in order to listen to lung sounds. However, people who are habitual of slouching position find it uncomfortable to adapt it as a permanent effect. When they attempt to sit straight they tighten frontal muscles and this causes restrictions in ease of breathing. That’s why it’s recommended to sit straight so that our upper body has the ease of deep breathing and there are no restrictions due to tightening of tendons.
Makes you look slim, tall and young
When you have a good posture we look 3-5 lbs less in our weight and appearance. It makes you look active, young and slim. Moreover, due to enhanced body structure, the clothes will look better on you. When you stand straight it makes you look tall.
Listed below are some posture mistakes that we do on daily basis without even realising the importance of a good posture:
Slouching while driving or travelling
When we travel or drive there are vibrations caused by engines which can oscillate at a frequency that can make you feel sleepy as it sedates your muscles and can relax you. If your body is in poor posture your muscles will have to work hard to support your body and weight. People slouching while driving and travelling are the most common posture mistake resulting in tiredness due to travel.
Not sitting properly while working on computer
People working in IT field or banking are habitual of sitting on computers for long periods of time. But our bodies are designed for movement and hence excess sitting in front of computers is also symbolic of bad posture. Make sure while working you can take small breaks and walk a bit.
Tilting head while talking on phone
Nowadays people are so addicted to phones and while talking on phone instead of holding the phone correctly with hands they tilt their head. Some people also slouch their head forward while texting on Smartphone. Bending neck for too long is also a bad posture.
Wearing heavy bag packs and walking with humped back
Heavy bag packs are posture killers as they are very stressful to neck, shoulders and arms especially the ones worn on the same shoulder always. Wearing heavy bag packs on one shoulder is again a posture mistake which can lead to strain and pain in that shoulder.
Bending forward from your back
The muscles around hips are the most powerful muscles in your body so make sure you always hinge (push back) from your hips while bending forward and keep your weight towards the heels so as to activate the muscles that are responsible for protecting the natural “S” curve of your spine from turning into “C” curve which is majorly responsible for ruining your posture.
Weak feet makes you slouch as they roll inward and causes serial distortion which causes a global collapse of the support system of the body. Make sure you lift your feet while walking and not sliding it to the floor. It is also considered a posture mistake that many people do.
Working with arms out in front
People working on computers constantly try reaching computers using large shoulders, arms and chest muscles which when under-stretched and over-used can lead to pulling of head and shoulders forward which are again a posture mistake.
Previous neck, back and shoulder injuries
Some old school injuries can lead body to adapt chronic stiffness and poor posture which is a result of shortening or forming scar tissue in short tissues and muscles.
You must be wondering what you should do to address this issue. The good news is here are some tips to correct your body posture and enhance your overall personality.
Tips to enhance standing posture
A good standing posture and a healthy spine have an inward curve in the lower back, the inner curve at neck and outward curve at the shoulder.
Here are some tips to enhance your standing posture:
- To achieve this posture keep your feet on floor few inches apart and stand straight.
- Distribute your weight over the balls of your feet and if you are wearing heels put your weight forward enough so that weight is distributed on each foot. You’ll feel a bit movement in your abdomen and chest when you do this.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed and squared not rounded or hunched.
- Pull your belly button toward your spine to form stability.
- Keep your chin parallel to the floor, your neck and head in line with your shoulders.
- Pull your head up and back and try reaching the ceiling with the top of your head. This makes you look leaner and taller.
Stand with your back against a door or wall with your shoulders, head and butt touching the wall or door. Initially, it may feel uncomfortable and awkward but don’t worry gradually you will develop a good posture and once your body is trained for this standing posture you will start feeling confident and comfortable about your posture.
Secondly, you can roll up a bath towel and put the rolled towel into the curve of your back. Stand against the wall with appropriate posture. This rolled towel should fit and this exercise will help you get the feel of the curve you are getting at your lower back.
You will feel light and tall once you adapt this posture. It may be bit awkward for people who are accustomed to slouching. Ladies, you may feel conscious about your breasts as they may be more prominent now.
Tips to enhance sitting posture
Throughout the day we are sitting most of the times be it from house to car, sofa to bed or office desk to the cafeteria. But our body is designed to move and not stay in one position. So we should make sure that although we sit whole day we should keep changing positions. Our body is not built to sit upright all day on one chair.
Well, it’s impossible to avoid sitting so why not adapt a good sitting posture so that it does not impact our health.
Here are some tips to enhance your sitting posture:
- To start with make sure while sitting you land your feet on the floor rather than crossing your legs.
- To make sure that your weight is evenly distributed while sitting adjust the chair height so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees in order to create a downward slope of your thighs. Doing this will distribute your weight between feet, hips, lower back and thighs.
- Your abdominal muscles should be firm but not that tight to make you feel uncomfortable while sitting. Your shoulders should be open and relaxed. Your neck and head should be in a straight line with your spine.
- If you are in front of the computer or in office make sure the computer monitor and keyboard are right in front of you and your screen at eye level so that you don’t have to bend your neck.
- If you are working for long hours then make sure your chair is designed to give proper support and designed as per your height and weight. If not possible use a small cushion or pillow to get lumbar support.
- Align the back of your chair with your back to avoid leaning and slouching forward.
- Adjust your chair 75 to 90 degrees angle at your elbows. If the angle is more than 90 degrees then you are either sitting too close or slouching.
- Take short standing breaks as even if you are sitting in a perfect posture you need to stand and stretch, walk a bit and exercise a bit. So keep moving while sitting.
Once in a while check your back position by place one hand behind your lower back if there is a curve or not. If there isn’t any gap place a lumbar support cushion. After every hour or half, an hour take a break from sitting and get up walk for two-three minutes to keep your hamstrings and lower back from tightening up.
When you sit with your feet n floor you will notice your thighs more as you are not crossing your legs. They haven’t grown so don’t let them bother you.
Tips to enhance walking posture
- If you want that perfect walking posture to start with a good standing posture as walking with good posture is an extension of good standing posture.
- All you need to do is keep your shoulders back, head up, eyes looking straight ahead and chest out.
- Avoid pushing your head forward as it makes you look lean and short.
- Avoid pushing your head backwards as it looks awkward when you walk.
- Simply stand straight and walk.
Tips to enhance driving posture
A good driving posture is not just important for good posture’s sake but is also important for safety concerns.
Here are some tips to enhance your driving posture:
- A achieve a good driving posture you need to have a good sitting posture first.
- Your cars seating system and protective systems are designed for sitting properly and can actually help out in event of a collision.
- Keep your head rest and back against the seat.
- Make sure you maintain a proper distance from steering wheel and pedals by adjusting the position of your seat.
- If you are bunched up with your chin on top of steering wheel then you are too close and if you are leaning forward, reaching for the wheel or pointing your toes then you are too far.
- Your headrest should be middle to support your head. Tilt the head rest as required but maintain a distance no more than 4 inches (10 cm) between the back of your head and headrest.
- If you are slouching and leaning while driving you might feel drowsy and that may be big safety concerns as you may land into an accident.
Tips to enhance sleeping posture
While it is difficult to maintain a particular sleeping posture as we are not able to maintain it consciously while sleeping, however, your sleep have an effect on your waking posture.
Here are some tips to enhance your sleeping posture:
- Use a good quality mattress that is firm so that it can help you maintain a proper back support.
- If you have a habit of sleeping on your back let me tell you this is the best sleeping position. It keeps your shoulders straight and usually more comfortable than sleeping on the stomach side. To maintain it you can put a small cushion under your knees and a good pillow below your head to give the body a proper support.
- If you prefer sleeping on your side, in order to get a proper support slip a small flat pillow between your knees to keep your spine aligned and straight.
- Use a pillow to provide alignment and support to your shoulders and head. Don’t take too many pillows as it can lead to bending of your head in an unnatural position which can be hurting and make you feel stiff and groggy.
Train your core muscles
To keep your musculoskeletal system tuned up so that your body can support your posture it’s important to keep yourself in shape and you need to train your core muscles.
Here are some tips to train your core:
- Lie straight on your back with legs bent at 90 degrees at knee and feet placed on the floor.
- Pull your belly towards the spine and hold it at the end.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat it eight times in a day. Repeat this daily.
- Maintain this position even if you are getting tired and not using all the muscles of back and butt.
- Breathe normally and train your core to maintain this position during normal activities in day to day life.
- You can also perform another exercise to engage your core and train it so that your body can adapt above postures.
Additional creative ways to enhance overall body posture
Fill your belly
Breathe properly by inhaling slowly from nose and filling your belly with oxygen and then hold your breath for few seconds and exhale. This technique can be helpful in standing by forcing your chest to fill and then straighten. Repeat this daily for at least 10-15 minutes as this can be very helpful in getting adapted to good postures.
Distribute your weight evenly on foot
Standing incorrectly and putting your weight entirely on effect can lead to posture problems like serial distortion. Mostly we ladies wear heels the stress on knees, ankles, lower back and hips increases. Practice standing with your weight evenly distributed on entire foot.
Take a picture
Taking a picture can help a lot in checking your body posture. Ask a friend t click a picture or check your pictures on Facebook and try matching these points like tucked stomach, raised chin, straight back, forward chest and squared shoulders. If you cannot draw a straight line anywhere on your body in the picture then yes you need to focus on your posture.
Or you can even stick pictures of proper posture and put them on the wall of your room so that you can see them, follow them and correct your posture. You can even set the timer to remind yourself after every half an hour to correct your posture. This can really help and you can correct your posture with very little effort.
The shoulder roll is another creative way of practising good posture. Moreover best part is one can do it anytime while sitting or in standing position as well. All you need to do is just roll your shoulders up and backwards pulling your elbows back in order to push forward your chest. Repeat this until you feel comfortable and make sure your lower back isn’t pushing forward your chest too much. Practice this before your next presentation and you surely will love your posture.
Avoid shoes like high heels and thick soled shoes as they are terrible for posture and feet. Feet are the foundation of correct posture and the more strong aligned feet the stronger aligned body. A Pair of high heels or wedges can be culprit for your slouching. Prefer wearing sneakers or flats to practice even weight distribution and to strengthen and stabilize your feet for long run.
Learn to do wall angles
You can do wall angles by standing straight with feet shoulder width apart with the back of your head, glutes, shoulders touching the wall. You can test and see how straight posture feels like.
Use props and tools
Use props like lumbar support pillows and seta wedges which can help in maintaining spinal curves while sitting. These props and tools can also decrease the posture stress on the back.
Have someone to tape a giant X from shoulder to opposite hip
Tape a giant X on your back from hips to opposite shoulder. Wearing this entire day helps retrain your back and keep your shoulders square and firm. Do it every day and change the tape each day.
Do these three movements
Do these three movements daily and your shoulders, elbow and back will be at the correct position. This can be really helpful in retaining the correct posture. All you need to do is roll your shoulders down and then back. Pull your elbows back towards your pants back pockets. Doing this presses your scapula up against ribs.
If you can’t remember that you need to keep your posture right then this can help. Think of a unique colour or object. Every time you think about that colour or object check your posture. This really work.
All these tips can help you a lot in keeping that perfect posture. Follow these tips to stay active, alert, health and well postured as a good posture define your personality.