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Posture is about far more than looking confident and poised. Sitting or standing in the right position makes sure our bodies function properly. Here we look at posture and how to improve yours starting today.
Is It Really That Bad?
Just what’s so terrible about having poor posture, besides not looking as sharp as you could? Quite a bit as it turns out. When you slouch or slump, so does your spine, leading to bad circulation. This can cause vertebrae to deteriorate over time. Chronic fatigue can also result. Coupled with circulation issues, the result can be early exhaustion. Chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain can also result from the strain of bad positioning. Fifty percent of working Americans suffer from back pain, and it’s the second most common reason for doctor visits. Twenty five percent of those with back pain suffer from a herniated disc, which may be caused by poor posture.
What Causes Bad Posture?
Bad posture isn’t always a sign of laziness. As a nation, weight issues are becoming more common, and weight gain changes how our skeleton and muscles support themselves. We also tend to be less active, which can lead to increased risk of disease. Chairs, hunching at work, unsupportive mattresses, and even low self-esteem contribute to these problems.
Great Posture in Every Position
Here’s a quick test to check your posture. Stand with the back of your head against a wall, place heels 6 inches from the wall. Your buttocks and shoulder blades should touch the wall. There should be less than 2 inches between your neck or small of the back and the wall. A larger gap indicates bad posture and a curving spine.
When sitting, keep your head straight and not tilted up or down. Keep your shoulders back and try to relax. Sit with your knees slightly lower than your hips. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Don’t try to keep your back ramrod straight, and don’t work without support for your arms. Don’t tuck your feet under the chair or cross your legs above the knees.
When standing, keep your shoulders back and aligned. Use your stomach muscles to keep your body straight. Slightly bend your knees to ease pressure on the hips, and use quality shoes that offer good support. Don’t stick your chest out. Instead, try to keep your chest perpendicular to the ground. Don’t stand in the same position for long periods of time, and don’t wear high heels when standing for long periods of time.
When walking, keep your chin parallel to the ground and hit the ground with your heel first, then roll onto the toe. Keep your stomach and buttocks in line with the rest of the body. Don’t look down at your feet. Don’t arch your back.
When running, keep your head up and looking forward. Keep your arms loose and elbows at a 90 degree angle. Lean forward slightly, and hit the ground with the midpoint of your foot and roll it forward to the toe. Don’t hunch your shoulders, bend at the waist, or lift your knees too high.
When sleeping, use a firm mattress that provides support. Minimize spinal curves by using pillows as necessary or upgrading your mattress. Stretch before bed to ease tense muscles, and sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs, on your back, or under your knees for better support. Don’t sleep on your stomach. It can cause pressure on the cervical spine. Don’t sleep with a tall stack of pillows that causes your neck to bend unnaturally.
Improve Your Lifestyle to Improve Your Posture
Did you know just keeping your weight down can do wonders for improving your posture? Exercise can also strengthen muscles, which help hold your body in the correct position.