Posture impacts your health and confidence more than what you think. Paying attention to how you stand or sit can bring so many benefits ranging from reduced pain levels to a boost in your self-confidence. But for many individuals, this simple gesture can be very difficult to achieve.
Their body has been so used to slouching that a few seconds of being conscious with the body’s proper alignment can be a tough task. In order to enjoy the health benefits of good posture, you need to consciously take extra effort to change some of your poor lifestyle habits.
Being more aware of how you hold your body while standing, sitting, or lying can do great wonders to your overall wellbeing.
What is good posture?
Good posture means that your bones and joints are in proper alignment. It includes the way you hold your body when moving and when you are in a static position.
The goal is to follow the natural curves of the spine so that you can prevent back pain, improve your breathing, digestion, and flexibility. Although it may sound simple, many people fail to follow this recommendation.
Millions of people worldwide find slouching as their normal posture. The suboptimal position affects not only their physical appearance but also the different crucial processes in the body.
Before you suffer from any of the negative impacts, here are some of the postural habits that you should consider while at home and at work to help you correct them, if necessary.
Mind how you sit
Do you ever recall your teacher or your mom telling you to sit up straight? Sitting in a slouching position is one lifestyle habit that can be difficult to correct.
In today’s world, the environment encourages more sitting. You spend hours in front of the computer doing office works. The long hours put stress on the back muscles and lead to poor posture.
As you read this article, you know you are sitting straight if both your feet rest flat on the floor and your weight is evenly distributed on both your hips. Your back is straight and rests on the chair, shoulders are relaxed and ears are lined up over the collarbones. If you fail in any of these checklists, it means you are sitting inappropriately.
Being more mindful on how you sit is a habit that you must begin. Straighten up your back right now and if possible, use lumbar support to promote the natural curves of your lower back. You must also ensure that your workstation is well optimized to promote proper sitting.
Avoid hunching forward at your desk by keeping your computer and mouse not too far from you. There are companies who value good posture and prepare workstations that are ergonomically designed to promote proper body alignment while seated.
Looks comfortable, but that is not a good position to read your book in.
Move around frequently
Given your sedentary lifestyle and the long hours, you spend in front of the computer and sitting on your office chair for the duration of your work shift can put a strain on your back.
Another lifestyle habit that you must begin is breaking your routine every 30 minutes to one hour. Always remember that even the “best in posture employee” cannot keep a perfect posture if seated all day.
It takes a lot of strength to keep the back well aligned in a stationary position. Once the muscles get tired, you will find yourself slowly slouching. Before you even reach this point, stand up and move around.
Since your too busy schedule can at times be the hindrance in maintaining a good posture, try to be more aware of the time. Set a reminder on your computer or on your phone to stand up and change position no matter how engrossed you are at your work. Stretch those muscles to relieve the tension.
A minute of stretching, standing up and walking, or doing short errands offer a few seconds of rest to your back muscles. Plus, these breaks are also good for your heart, metabolism, and digestion.
Be conscious of how you stand
Similar to sitting, standing should also be a conscious effort. Keep your shoulders and back well aligned. Sticking your bottom out, leaning on one leg or carrying heavy backpacks, put uneven pressure on your back and hips.
Over time, this can cause muscle strain and affect your posture. To correct it, get into the habit of standing with your weight evenly distributed on both legs. Keep your chin level with the ground, stomach in, and shoulders back.
Allow your arms to dangle naturally on the sides. You can also lean your back against a wall or door to get a feel of the correct posture. Allow only the back of your head, shoulders and your butt to touch the wall.
Apart from paying attention to how you stand, you should also avoid carrying a too heavy load on your back. You must also know that your footwear can affect your spinal alignment. Choosing the right shoes benefits not just your feet but also your back.
For ladies, wearing high heels is not recommended if you will have to stand for long hours. These types are prone to unstable posture and put more pressure on your lower back. Long hours of walking and running requires shoes with shock absorption capacity.
Limit your phone use
With the introduction of smartphones, where everything is right there on your fingertip, more and more hours are spent using phones. However, it turns out that your phone is not just addicting but it is also bad for your posture.
On average, a person spends two to four hours per day looking down at their gadgets. The habit leads to what is called “text neck” symptoms. The term was introduced after reports of neck pain associated with prolonged phone use. Looking down at your phones put your neck and head at their unnatural angle which encourages bad posture.
The forward head posture and rounded shoulders predispose an individual to more pain in the neck, back, and shoulders.
But since complete elimination of smartphones is not possible, experts recommend taking effort to look at your phone with a neutral spine and limit its use so that you don’t hunch over for several hours. In a neutral position, only around 10 pounds of pressure is applied on your neck compared when you look down, the tilted neck at 60 degrees bears 60 lbs. of additional weight which leads to the neck pain.
How much time do you spend every day sitting a position like this?
Review your sleeping position
People spend one-third of their lives sleeping. Thus, it is crucial that you also promote good posture even when you are lying down. Your pillow must be under your head and must allow the normal curvature of the cervical spine.
Avoid sleeping on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest. This position only worsens your posture. You must also avoid sleeping on your stomach since this can cause undue strain on your neck and back. In fact, sleeping on your stomach is considered as the worst position for your posture. Recommended positions include having a pillow under your knees, or on your side with knees slightly bent. It will also help if you have lumbar support at night.
If possible, you must also invest in good quality mattress. Choose one that allows you to rest comfortably and wake up pain-free.
Make necessary adjustments when driving
Your posture should also be a priority while driving. Your spine’s position is important to ensure your safety. This is because the protective system protects you best if you are seating properly. If you are leaning forward or reaching for the wheel, these mean that your seat is too far from the pedals and steering wheel.
Move your chair closer. Adjust your headrest making sure that the middle of your head rests on it. Lean against the seat and adjust it to a comfortable position.
Incorporate regular stretching in your daily life
Exercise is definitely one of the best ways to maintain the normal alignment of your spine and to strengthen your core muscles.
But before you freak out with the idea of exercise, know that these may include even mild stretching, raising your arms upwards and sideward, tilting your head from side to side and forward and backward, and breathing deeply in all of these positions. The simple gestures release the tension build up in the muscles and stretch your joints.
Correcting a poor posture is something that does not happen overnight. You need to work hard for it and change your daily habits.
With your constant conscious effort to improve your back, the little things you do can accumulate over time. However, you will also be happy to see immediate results.
Your appearance is the very first benefit that you can get in practicing good posture. The other health advantages will follow as you continue the habit. You will just be glad one day that back pain is already a thing of the past. Your back, neck and shoulder muscles are in their best state. No more soreness and stiffness, and the best part is that you will boost your overall health and confidence.
Author-Bio: Marcus runs the site Strengthery where he likes to write mostly about weight training, weight loss, and other health-related topics. He prefers a balancing approach to health and fitness where the amount of effort needs a corresponding gain in order to be worth it. He is also a massage junkie.