How many times have you heard Stand up straight! when you were little? Do you remember being nagged for slouching at a family dinner? Although it might be very annoying, it’s not wrong at all.
Your posture, the way you hold your body when you’re sitting or standing, is the base for every movement your body makes and can determine how well your body adapts to pressure. Pressure can mean number of different things. It can be carrying weight or sitting in an awkward position. But the biggest pressure we experience all day, every day, is gravity.
If your posture is crooked your muscles have to work harder to keep you upright and balanced. In result some muscles will become tight and inflexible. Others will become confined and lazy. Over time, these dysfunctional adaptations impair your body’s ability to deal with forces on it. Poor posture inflicts extra wear and tear on your joints and ligaments. Which increases the likelihood of injuries and chronical pains. Poor posture also make some organs for like your lungs, less efficient.
Researchers have linked poor posture to tension headaches, back pain and sleep deprivation although it isn’t the exclusive cause of any of them. Posture can even influence your emotional state and your sensitivity to pain. Are you convinced now? Are those enough reasons to aim for good posture?
Sitting in an awkward position for a long time can promote poor posture, and so can using computers and mobile devices, which encourage you to look downward. Many studies suggest that on average our posture is getting worse. Current conditions of our environment at work, school or during transportation, are certainly not helping us. So, if you won’t start working on your posture it will only be getting worse and worse.
What does good posture look like?
When you look at the spine from the front or the back, all 33 vertebrae should appear stacked in a straight line. From the side, the spine should have three curves: one at your neck, on at your shoulders and one at the small of your back. These curves help us stay upright and absorb some of the stress for activities like walking and jumping.
Symmetric straight posture keeps your center of gravity directly over base of your support, which allows you to move efficiently with the least amount of fatigue and muscle strain. If you’re sitting, your neck should be vertical, not tilted forward. Your shoulders should be relaxed with your arms close to your trunk. Your knees should be at the right angle with your feet flat on the floor.
How to start?
But what if your posture isn’t that great? Identify what good posture look like and check what you need to fix. There are many great ways to improve your posture, like yoga, training your core muscles or stretches. Chose what fits you best. But remember that first you need to be conscious of your own body.
Body, Brain, Energy
It’s also not enough to just have a good posture. Keeping your muscle and joints moving is extremely important. In fact, being stationary for a long period with good posture can be worse than regular movement with bad posture. When you do move, move smartly. If you sit a lot, get up and move around on occasion, and be sure to exercise. Using your muscles will keep them strong enough to support you effectively, on top of all the other benefits to your joints, bones, brain and heart and the level of your energy. You really should Stand up straight!
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