We all remember being told as kids to ‘sit up straight’ or ‘stop slouching’ (or we’re busy telling our own kids the same thing now!) – but what is ‘good posture’ and why is it so important?
What is good posture?
Good posture is an important part of our long-term health. It involves positioning the body correctly to make sure our weight is evenly balanced. It involves standing, sitting, lying, or lifting in the way, in each case, that puts the least amount of strain on the musculoskeletal structure.
Remember: The key to good posture is the position of the spine. This involves maintaining the natural curves of the spine – at the neck, mid/upper back, and lower back – without increasing any of them.
What are the benefits?
Ensuring our posture is optimal can be pivotal for ensuring long-term good health. To quote Deepanker Dass: ‘Posture is your superpower’. This superpower can manifest in multiple ways – both physical and mental/emotional.
The physical benefits are wide-ranging, combining to form a natural solution for many health concerns:
A healthier back with stronger back and core muscles. Good posture is a workout – and the more you work on it, the better your stability, balance, and range of motion. Boosting those back and core muscles also means you’re less likely to ‘throw your back out’ – or have your spine go out of alignment, reducing the likelihood of pain caused by the constriction of sensitive nerves.
Reduced wear and tear in the joints. Proper spinal alignment saves the discs, joints, and muscles of your spinal column from pressure and strain. Maintaining correct posture can also reduce wear and tear in the hips and knees.
Increased respiratory efficiency. Yes, your posture affects your lungs, too! Standing up straight with your shoulders thrown back allows full mobility of the thoracic cavity – providing full lung capacity. Breathing freely and fully is good for metabolism and great for physical performance.
Fewer headaches or reduced severity headaches. Recurrent headaches can stem from tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back. When we correct ‘tech neck’ with good posture, often those pesky tension headaches can also be corrected in the process.
Improved digestion and circulation. With rounded posture comes compressed vital organs – not great for their optimal performance. Likewise, healthy blood flow requires proper alignment and avoiding positions that can cramp circulation (such as crossing your legs while seated). When you sit up and stand up tall, digestion can function optimally, and your circulatory and central nervous systems can perform as expected.
Let’s face it, you feel more confident when you’ve got good posture. If you’ve ever had that feeling after a Chiropractic visit of standing up a little taller and straighter and feeling a little more poised and positive – this is the everyday feeling that good posture can bring. (Scientists have even proven this!)
When the bones and joints are in correct alignment, it allows your muscles to be used as they’re intended – meaning less fatigue and more energy. Good posture makes an incredible case for working smarter, not harder. This is relevant for good sleep posture, too – healthy spinal alignment overnight will see you waking up fresh and ready to greet the day.
Three things you can do today to improve your posture
Good news: ‘poor’ posture can be improved – particularly if we start being mindful of our positioning during everyday activities – like sitting at a desk, watching television, driving, or walking.
When we sit, stand, walk, or move, our body follows previously learnt motor patterns. So, if the body has learnt to slouch, that is what it will do. Stretching eases the body beyond these unhealthy patterns, loosening and lengthening muscles so that new patterns can be formed. Gentle exercises, such as those in yoga or Pilates, and particularly those that strengthen the muscles in your core, can also help with posture correction.
2. Take breaks!
We’ve all heard that ‘sitting is the new smoking,’ but standing static for too long can also cause difficulties for your back muscles and joints. If you’ve been sitting too long already today – get up and move around. Similarly, if you’ve been on your feet for an age, take a load off (and maybe get down on the floor for some stretches!)
3. Book an appointment with your friendly Northcote Chiropractor!
Chiropractic care promotes better posture using spinal-alignment techniques that target your bones and joints. The chiropractic approach also incorporates stretching techniques, take-home exercises, and guidance on proper posture. These therapies can help to restore balance, stability, and range of motion – basically giving your posture superpower a cosmic boost.