We all remember those early days of school when parents and teachers told us to “sit up straight, and put your shoulders back!” It seemed to run against the very core of our tendency to slouch – a tendency that becomes all the more irresistible as we go through life hunched over our books and laptops during work and study. But as some of us have learned the hard way, good posture really is integral to good health – after all, it’s our bipedal nature that is one of the principal features of the divide between our primate ancestors and us. The good news is that while bad posture can lead to a series of problems, it’s never too late to train yourself into a habit of keeping your back straight.
Why you need good posture
Our bodies are under constant pressure in one form or another, whether we spend our workdays in front of a computer or out on the construction site. It’s easy to become accustomed to the positions that our work seems to demand, but in reality, we’re actually not making our situation more comfortable in the long-term by slouching and bending. Bad posture means that you’re making your muscles work extra hard, and increasing the risk of long-term back pain and joint damage as well as fatigue and headaches. Dr Sol Cogan of HealthQuest, the official chiropractic of the Detroit Lions, strongly believes that good posture – as well as chiropractic treatments – should form part of a series of small but major lifestyle adjustments which individuals can make to improve their health. Cogan recommends consulting with a licensed chiropractor that can help you to develop personal posture improving exercises that will not only reduce the pressure on your spine, but keep your body younger and stronger, too.
Good posture, as any professional will tell you, is important for many reasons aside from benefiting your back and neck muscles. It also allows better digestion as well as improved airflow to the lungs. Start practicing good posture and you’ll be amazed at the results – who knows, you may even vow to never go back to disappearing into your office chair again.
Tips for maintaining good posture
If there is one key element to good posture, it’s awareness. It’s easy to forget how we’re sitting when we’re engrossed in one project or another, which is why designating a few minutes every half hour to get up, stretch, and walk around is so important not only for circulation but reminding ourselves to sit properly too. Small exercises can make a world of difference, while more engaging exercises like snow angel stretches in the morning and evening, as well as core-strengthening activities like weightlifting, pilates and yoga can help your body improve as well as provide some well-needed release for the mind. Posture should not, after all, be a conflict of interest where relaxation is concerned; it should feel natural and calming. Yoga is a great way to acclimatize mind, body and soul alike to the idea of happy posture.
When standing upright, you should be able to draw a straight line from your ear lobe to shoulder, hips, knees and ankles while standing. Each posture should be seamless from one position to the next without too much strain, and the same applies to sitting posture, as well. It’s especially important for women to support the spine as well as sit up straight. This means both feet flat on the floor, back straight, and shoulders back with arms placed slightly below chest level for optimal comfort and proper positioning. For people who find they spend long periods in front of the computer, an ergonomic chair that offers sufficient back support is recommended, as well as desk level (neither too high nor too low) and computer monitor level (which should be aligned with direct field of vision, slightly lowered). Ergonomically optimized, spacious workspaces with easy access mean a more productive work output, and, most importantly, improved employee wellbeing.
Of course, good posture also comes with a few common sense habits, as well. Eating healthily, exercising and getting plenty of vitamin D will strengthen bones and muscles, enabling easier posture. People who are struggling with their weight my find that good posture can be difficult to maintain because of the additional strain on their body, so if you are one of those people, it’s important to get yourself down to a manageable weight that lets you sit straight, and everything will come into place.
It’s easy to get distracted and absorbed in the many tasks which comprise our everyday lives, but think of it this way – one of the best favors we can grant ourselves is to get back to basics, especially when it comes to our health and wellbeing. It’s amazing what simply changing your posture can do – not only will you feel better instantly, but also you’ll be keeping your body healthier for the long years to come.