You must have heard your parents or teachers telling you to sit up straight at some point in your life. Turns out they were right all along. Maintaining a good posture not only improves your confidence, but also helps improve your breathing, digestion and mental clarity. In addition, it helps reduce back and neck pain as well as the risk of injury. If that isn’t enough to make you sit up straight, keep reading to learn more!
Why does good posture matter?
Good posture is essential for healthy living as it keeps your bones and joints in alignment. As we mentioned, good posture also improves your confidence, in addition to improving your overall health and energy levels too. In comparison, poor posture can put extra stress on your muscles, joints, and ligaments, leading to pain and fatigue. It can also cause long-term back and neck problems, as well as poor blood circulation.
Now that you know why it matters, we think it’s vital you know about the spine before trying to correct it. Knowing the structure of the spine will help you improve your posture and reduce the risk of pain or injury. Come on, let’s read it!
Understanding the Spine
The spine has three natural curves that are important for good posture. The cervical spine, or neck, should have a slight convex curve (neck curve), the thoracic spine, or mid-back, should have a slight concave curve (mid-back curve), and the lumbar spine, or lower back, should have a larger concave curve (low back curve).
These curves should remain relatively neutral when standing and sitting in order to maintain good posture and to avoid pain, discomfort, and even injury if left uncorrected.
The effects of bad posture
The effects of carrying a bad posture for a long time are scary. It can lead to a variety of health problems, both in the short term and in the long term. Here are some of the most common issues that can arise if left unchecked:
- Back and neck pain: One of the most common consequences of poor posture is a pain in the back and neck. When you slouch or hunch over, it puts extra strain on your muscles and joints, leading to discomfort and pain.
- Headaches: Bad posture can also cause headaches, particularly tension headaches, as the muscles in the neck and upper back become tight and sore.
- Reduced lung capacity: When you hunch over, your lungs have less room to expand, which can reduce your overall lung capacity and make it harder to breathe deeply.
- Digestive issues: Poor posture can also affect your digestion, as slouching can compress your organs and slow down the digestive process.
- Poor blood circulation: Slouching can also impede blood flow to your extremities, leading to numbness or tingling in your arms and legs.
- Joint damage: Over time, bad posture can lead to wear and tear on your joints, particularly in your spine and hips.
- Poor balance and coordination: When your posture is out of alignment, it can throw off your balance and coordination, increasing your risk of falls and injuries.
- Fatigue and decreased energy: Poor posture can also cause fatigue and decreased energy levels, as your body has to work harder to maintain an inefficient posture.
What is a good posture and how to check it?
Good posture involves the correct alignment of your body while standing, sitting, or moving. Read below to know some ways to maintain it.
- Stand up straight with your shoulders back and down. Keep your chest up and your chin parallel to the ground.
- Keep your core muscles (abdominals and back muscles) engaged to support your spine.
- Distribute your weight evenly on both feet, with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Keep your knees slightly bent and your hips aligned with your feet.
- When sitting, keep your feet flat on the ground, your back straight, and your shoulders relaxed.
- Avoid slouching or leaning forward when working on a computer or phone, and adjust your desk or screen to maintain an upright posture.
Now that you know almost everything about posture, make sure you check it too. Try the following to check your body’s posture:
- Stand with your back against a wall, with your heels about 2-3 inches from the baseboard. Your buttocks and shoulder blades should touch the wall.
- Place the back of your hand behind the small of your back. You should be able to slide your hand easily between your lower back and the wall, without any significant gap.
- Look at yourself in a mirror from the side. Your ear, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle should all be in a straight line.
- When sitting, check that your feet are flat on the ground, your back is straight, and your shoulders are relaxed.
By paying attention and making corrections when needed, you can help prevent the negative effects of poor posture and improve your overall health and well-being. Stay safe!
Header photo courtesy of Joyce McCown from Unsplash.
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