At some point in our lives, we have all been told to “sit up straight” or “stop slouching.” Bad posture is a habit, usually, and is the main reason for the parental nagging.
We often only think about posture when we have a problem: our back starts to hurt, or our hips feel out of line. The truth is, posture is a part of us every second. Sitting, standing, bending, reaching, even sleeping all take our posture into account.
Having good posture is a habit just as bad posture is. If you correct bad posture, you will see the benefits near immediately.
Before you can begin fixing a problem, you need to understand what the problem stems from. In the case of posture, you need to realize that everything you do is posture related. Head up, chest out, back straight, shoulders square: these are the signs of good posture.
Chest in, shoulders hunched, weight forward: these are the signs of bad posture. Which one best describes you right now?
Why should you worry so much about posture though? Let’s take a look:
Bad posture can result in a lot of different side effects. You should realize that every part of our body is connected to every other part in some way. That “way” is through our spinal cord.
When you stand or sit with poor posture, you are placing undue stress on the spine, which in turn will cause aches, pains, and even injury.
The characteristics of a good posture are to think of yourself as a puppet on a string. That line is running from the top of your head right through the center of your body. If you can imagine that string being attached to the ceiling, you should be able to stand tall, with your head up, and have good posture.
According to research from Duke University, 8 out of 10 people will suffer back pain in their lifetime. With the only exception being trauma directly to the spine, each case of back pain can be traced back to bad posture.
Every time we stand or sit with bad posture, we put our body out of alignment and cause some parts to work harder than others. Generally, this leads to muscle fatigue, and why you are sore at the end of your day.
In other circumstances, it can cause you to have more severe side effects such as herniated discs, inflammation of the joints, arthritis and may even require surgery. The same research from Duke University estimates that Americans spend over 25 billion per year for back-related surgeries, medications, and physical therapy.
The good news is that poor posture habits can be reversed. Just like any other bad habit, you can train your body always to use good posture. You can get in the habit of sitting up straight and not slouching, which aside from the health benefits, will make your nagging parents proud.
Training for good posture just takes practice. Learning to think about it consciously more often. When you look in the mirror, for example, check your posture. When you are driving to work, are your hands even on the steering wheel, or is one higher than the other, causing your shoulders to slope?
When you are sitting at your desk or the table for dinner, is your back straight and your shoulders back, or are you slouched over and humping your shoulders?
We can’t all make it to the gym everyday or attend a yoga class, although that would be perfect. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t train our bodies to have better posture and get into good habits during our workday or downtime at home.
We have provided some exercises that you can do to help correct poor posture. These will help to remind you of good posture habits as well as alleviating back pain and muscle fatigue.
If you get in the habit of doing these daily, you will find yourself thinking less about your posture and maintaining a proper poise throughout the day. It is never too late to correct your posture.
Take Breaks and Stretch
We sit at the computer for work all day long. It is almost inevitable that bad posture will creep in while you sit there staring at the monthly reports. To correct bad posture at work:
- Take a break every 30 minutes to stand up and walk around.
- Nod your head front to back and side to side to work out the neck.
Lock your fingers together and turn your palms away from you. Straighten your arms at shoulder height and push your hands away from you.
This simple stretch will help you tighten your core and give balance and strength as you breathe.
- Start on your hands and knees with your back straight and head up, facing forward.
- Straighten your right leg out, level with your back and point your toes towards the ground.
- Tighten your core and buttocks to maintain stability while extending your left arm in front of you.
- Turn your palm inward, so your thumb points towards the ceiling and inhale, holding the breath for 15 seconds.
- Exhale as you bring your arm and leg slowly back to starting position.
- Repeat with the left leg and right arm.
Continue to repeat until you have held your inhale for a total of 60 seconds for each side.
This exercise will maintain proper posture throughout the movement, which will help muscle memory for good posture habits while stretching to release tension and pain.
- Step your left foot back, so both feet are flat on the floor.
- Square your hips and grab your forearms behind your back.
- Exhale as you bend forward from your hips, being mindful not to roll or round your spine.
- Exhale and inhale 5 times and then rise to the starting position.
- Reverse legs (right leg back) and repeat exercise.
With time, practice and conscious effort, you will have better posture and less fatigue. You can lower your risk of injury, need for surgery or physical therapy and improve your overall health.
All by taking care of your posture.
Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.