Getting Straight On Your Posture: Why It’s Important and How You Can Correct It
‘Sit up straight! No slouching! Fix your posture!’ I’m sure I’m not the only that got told this as child. At the time, most of us probably thought very little of it, thinking it was just another thing we were told to do at a young age. We all know we should sit up straight, but after all, what’s wrong with just relaxing a little bit and getting comfortable? Well, as it turns out, quite a bit.
The truth of the matter is that developing good habits in healthy posture is not only important to our self-confidence and the way others perceive us, it can also be vital to maintaining good back and spine function and mobility in our older years, and allow us to avoid other health issues in the nerves and organs that are tied to poor spinal health. Folks who have had poor posture for long periods of time can often have trouble in numerous physical areas such as back and neck pain, trouble walking and reaching up, and in the most severe cases poor posture can even contribute to osteoporosis.
According to multiple sources, approximately 75-80% of adults report lower back pain at some point in their lives, and up to 15% of all sports-related injuries involve the spine. Lower back pain is not only the leading occupational injury, but it is the most frequent cause of activity & mobility limitation in people age 45 and under. Unfortunately, those numbers increase in older folks.
One of the problems that has led to an increase in people who have bad posture is the fact that a lot of them don’t realize the true consequences of not keeping your spine aligned well. It isn’t just about how you look, either – there are countless medical and health conditions that can develop from prolonged slouching and slumping. So don’t get too comfortable for too long if you want to avoid future spine and joint problems.
So what exactly are some of the common issues associated with bad posture, you might be asking? Well for starters, it has a seriously negative impact on your joints and the ligaments that hold them in place in your spine. The strain to compensate for the misaligned torso can lead to an increased workload on your hips, knees, and ankles, and it can even interfere with your digestive track and cause other abdominal issues. Muscle strain and fatigue are typical as well.
At this point you are probably wondering what you can do to try and correct these problems before they become serious and much more difficult to fix. Well, we’re glad you asked. Because the fact is there are a number of practices and exercises that you can begin to incorporate into your daily routine that can have a huge impact on your posture quicker than you may think. For starters, good posture plays an important role in many of our daily activities, such as:
- Lying down
Each of these activities have their own specific rules and guidelines as how to properly position yourself to keep your spine, shoulder, back, neck and head aligned properly. The most important thing to remember is that in any of these scenarios, you want your back to be as straight as possible, with your head up and your shoulders square. From the top of your head down to your hips should be a straight line. Here are some tips:
- When sitting, your legs should be even with or slightly above your hips, and your feet should be flat on the floor (or on a footrest if unable to reach). Avoid crossing your legs or leaning to one side.
- Try to avoid looking down at your phone or computer for long periods of time. Keep electronics at eye-level so you’re not straining your neck (not just your eyes).
- When standing or walking, you want the arms to be loose and relaxed, hanging (or swinging when walking) down by your side. The head should remain up and looking forward.
- While lying down, be sure your spine and your neck are supported comfortably, and you might even want to try sleeping with a soft pillow between your legs for added comfort.
- In addition, exercise can help strengthen the muscles that support the spine, and help to avoid back pain as we get older.
In addition to these, there are several other suggestions and recommendations you can find online in various articles and blogs that not only help with specific issues such as posture, but also with your overall health and general wellness.
If you care about posture, I know you care about fitness. I’ve created a 10 Day Jumpstart that is designed to give you an overall body, muscle, mind and dietary reset. Using only 20-30 minutes of your time a day, you can follow along with me while I help strengthen your core and show you how simple living a healthy lifestyle can be. This is a 10 day program that helps you build a foundation for creating your best self, starting with meal plans, shopping guides, breathing exercises, and workout plans for physical and mental strengthening.