Your Ultimate Guide to Posture Management
What is posture?
No matter who you are or what your profession is, having a good posture is the key to a healthy and long life. Unfortunately, our current lifestyles have made way to us ignoring the way we treat our body, and putting excessive strain on it. This results in chronic pain and poor health in our later years. The sooner we take note of it, the sooner can we change the way our posture is for the better.
Posture refers to the “position” your body takes under different circumstances. It can also refer to the arrangements of body parts relative to one another as a response to the effects of gravity.
There is no single posture that can help us do all kinds of tasks. Different activities require different postures, all of which need to be ideal. A good posture is one that helps your body perform an activity in the most efficient manner, while utilizing the least amount of energy. Such a good posture will allow you to move in the way you want with the least amount of strain or damage done to your body.
Why worry about good posture?
Remember the times when we were continuously being told to sit straight? Well, it was not just for disciplining children, but a lifelong lesson.
Good posture is extremely important because it enables your body to function optimally. A good posture promotes movement efficiency and endurance. The long term effects of good posture are multiple, all of which lead to spikes in your level of health and well being.
Maintaining a good posture during different activities throughout the day can help prevent a lot of pain. A poor posture usually means misaligned bones, muscle joints and ligaments. This puts more pressure on them than required, which eventually leads to pain in different parts of the body. Most of the people with chronic back pain can trace the cause to years of faulty postural habits.
The practice for good posture needs to start young and turned into a regular discipline. It is not only for preventing back pain, but a good posture also contributes to a great appearance. It is a sign of confidence, poise and dignity. The most famous celebrities and politicians are people who maintain great postures, and hence are more appealing to look at.
A good posture helps the muscles, joints and tissues to be in their natural form. It helps your postural muscles work more efficiently, as they are correctly aligned, thereby allowing the body to move freely.
Long term effects of poor posture
Sitting, standing or lying in the same position for long can put an unnatural level of strain on our muscles, joints and ligaments. This is the biggest reason for back pain, neck pain and even shoulder pain. Here are some long term and damaging effects of poor posture:
Change in Spinal Curve
Your spine has a natural curve which can get damaged over years of sitting or standing with poor posture. Putting too much unnatural pressure on the spine can cause long term pain and discomfort due to imbalance.
Poor posture compresses your digestive organs, leaving them incapable of optimal functioning. This impacts metabolism and can negatively affect the body’s natural ability to process the food it consumes.
The chances of developing cardiovascular issues is higher in people who sit all day with a bad posture. This can lead to a lower life expectancy!
The major cause of the most commonly known chronic back pain is a bad posture. Spending a lot of time sitting with bad posture can make even young people experience back pain and disc degeneration.
The essential elements of a good posture
A posture needs to meet several conditions to be called a good posture. For example, while standing, a good posture is a straight vertical alignment of your body from the top of your head, to the body’s center to the bottom of your feet. Similarly, a good sitting posture is one in which the spine and head are erect, and the neck is straight.
A good posture does not mean to be in pain to get it right. It is the position your body is designed to take naturally by using the least amount of energy. A good posture does not inhibit any kind of ongoing activity that you might be doing, and it lets you switch over to the next relevant movement with natural ease.
A good posture is absolutely vital to good health and it helps you in the following ways:
Regular slouching shortens your frontal muscles and tendons, which decreases the body’s ability to take deep, ling breaths. Practicing a good posture can improve your breathing ability by as much as 30%!
No Back Pain
Prevention is better than cure! Instead of spending thousands of dollars and hours on medical treatment, a good posture guarantees no back pain for the rest of your life.
A good posture strengthens your muscles and lets them work in their most natural form. Sitting and standing correctly can strengthen your core, buttock muscles and back extensions, thereby relieving you of stress and tension.
Altering your posture from a slouch to an upright position can significantly improve your mood and energy levels. Having a good posture does not only have physical benefits, but it also affects your mental health, automatically bringing in more optimism.
Improving posture also means opening up your body to better oxygen supply and blood circulation, which enables neurons and synapses responsible for memory open up. This increases a human brain’s capacity to concentrate and focus.
Improved Body Language
A bad posture with slumped shoulders gives out a bad impression of under confidence and depression. A good posture is a sign of power and confidence, which we see celebrities and famous politicians do very well!
How do I improve my current posture?
A good posture isn’t just about sitting or standing properly or about looking good. A good posture is holistic and includes everything from how to sit, stand, walk or sleep. All these positions deeply affect our health, mood and overall happiness quotient.
Here are the top ways that can help you achieve a good posture:
To start with, test your current posture with a professional and learn where your flaws exist. You can also test your back and neck posture against a wall. This will help you find areas that you need to work on while standing.
While you stand, be more aware of your feet and their positioning. It is important that you put equal weight on both your legs while you stand, ensuring that your body weight is equally distributed across both feet.
Regular exercise that focus on strengthening your core can help you correct your posture and also maintain it. Yoga, pilates or strength training are very useful ways of fixing your posture and also adapting yourself to better positions.
Our current lifestyles involve a lot of sitting be it at our work desks or in the car, which is why we need to do it correctly. When you do have to sit, make sure you have a good chair that supports your back. The best way is to sit at a 135-degree angle as that puts less strain on your spine.
How often have you woken up with a pulled neck muscle or back pain after a night’s sleep? This happens when we wreck our posture while sleeping. Our posture while sleeping depends on a wide variety of factors such as our mattress and the pillows we use.
Breathing is key
Breathing is one of the core components of good health. This is because how we breathe can deeply affect our movements and feelings. Lear about ways to breathe more effectively, focus on your breathing patterns from time to time and try breathing exercises that focus on lengthening your spine, engaging your waist muscles and lower core muscles.
Another 21st century addiction are mobile phones and tablets. These devices are looked at for hours at a stretch, mostly at the cost of craning the neck down. Instead of bending your neck down to look at your phone, try holding it up straight in front of you.
Laptops have definitely made our lives easier. They are portable, can be carried around and help us slouch while we work. But this isn’t right! If you spend a lot of hours at your work desk, you need to fix your workstation. Figure out your ideal desk height, while standing and sitting, and keep your feet flat on the floor. Make sure you look at your screen without bending your head or neck down.
Practice Posture Correcting Exercises
A good posture is a result of the muscles of the body aligning properly, allowing for efficient movement. Here are a few simple exercises and stretches that you can incorporate into your workout program:
Good posture starts with a strong core including the abdominals, lower back, oblique’s and hips. Strong core muscles help you to hold your body in an upright position, thereby improving balance. This helps you move your body with greater control and ease, and also bids goodbye to the occurrence of pain and injury. Weak core muscles put more pressure on other muscles to over perform, which results in weakness and pain. There are several examples of people who have been able to eliminate lower back pain through regular core training.
Here are a few simple exercises that you can do at home to strengthen your core muscles:
- Stomach crunches
- Sit ups
- Plank holds
- Side planks
- Back extensions
- Standing side bends
Rounded shoulders are very common but they are actually a result of hours being spent slouching or sitting/standing improperly. Daily mundane activities such as watching television, driving car, or sitting and working on a laptop leads to this postural abnormality. These forward reaching positions lead to the chest, shoulders and hip muscles to become shortened and tight, while the upper and middle back muscles start to weaken.
This posture can be improved by doing shoulder exercises that strengthen these weak upper back muscles. The stronger the upper back is, the more flexible will the chest become. This will enable the shoulders to naturally pull back, which is a sign of improved posture.
Here are some simple exercises for shoulders:
- Reverse dumbbells
- Shoulder press
- Side raises with dumbbells
- Standing stretch
- Torso stretch
- Shoulder rolls
- Chest arm rolls
The way your hips are shaped define your posture to a great extent. Hips should be seen as neutral and levelled up when seen from the side. Hips tilting forward is also a postural abnormality which can lead to lordosis. This is common for those who sit for most of the day with their legs bent. This is a sign of weak muscles in the hamstrings, glutes and abs. It can be corrected by improving the flexibility of your thighs and hip flexors.
Here are some simple exercises for strengthening hip muscles:
- All core exercises listed above
- Leg raises
- Hamstring stretches
- Standing quad stretch
- Hip stretch
- Head and neck exercises
Spending hours, days, weeks and years with your head and neck forward tightens the front and side neck muscles, weakening them. The position of your neck and head are also crucial components defining a good posture. The neck muscles need to be strong and firm in order to be able to hold your head directly above your shoulders. This is why the neck area needs to be fixed and tightened up, so that the head can center itself appropriately. These exercises can also reduce the occurrence of neck pain.
Here are some exercises for the neck with minimal force:
- Neck stretches using hands
- Neck retraction exercise
- Headrest exercise
- Chin glides
Use technology as a posture corrector
The hustle and bustle of today’s life does not leave us any time to look after ourselves with so much care. Thankfully, technology has developed to make our lives easier, by helping us alert about our health and fitness goals.
One such revolution in the field of posture correction is Strack. Strack is a tiny wearable posture corrector device that vibrates every time you slouch. It helps you get in touch with your natural position.
All you have to do is attach this decide to your back or collar and start your journey towards a taller, straighter and healthier you.
Here are the features of Strack that will help you enhance your well being:
- Posture management
Every time you put on a bad posture, Strack alerts you with a gentle vibration. This helps you stay aware and turn good posture into a habit.
- Progress monitoring
Strack enables you to monitor your daily, weekly and monthly progress by syncing the data onto your device. All you need to do is download the free app available both on iOS and Android.
- Inactivity alert
Strack acts as a true coach by alerting you when you have been inactive. This will ensure that well needed breaks from your desks to keep that blog circulation going never skips your mind.
- Your personalized trainer
Strack comes with a default training mode which lays down the path for your to achieve great posture in as less as 30 days!
- In built pedometer
Strack’s in built tracking helps you count every step that you take, enabling you to aim higher with your fitness goals.
Improving one’s posture is not going to happen overnight. Bad posture is a result of years of misalignment of muscles and tissues, and correcting that will also take ample time. The earlier you start, the better it is. Like they say, prevention is better than cure. To speed up the process of recovery, consider making adjustments to your daily life, with discipline taking the center stage. Start with the exercises mentioned above, and consult a professional to understand your current posture details.
A great posture will not just make you look younger and fit, it will also play a paramount role in changing the way you look at yourself. Your athletic performance will improve and you will be free from developing any kind of pain in the future. Take action now to start your journey to become the best version of yourself.