Have you ever been disciplined for slouching over a family dinner? or even asked to “Sit up straight,”. Some of these phrases are probably something you heard a lot as a youngster – while such statements are annoying for anybody, they are also not incorrect, and with good reason?
Your posture, or how you hold your body when standing or sitting, serves as the basis for all of your body’s movements and also impacts how well your body adjusts to external stimuli or stresses. These stresses can be anything like carrying weight or even sitting in an awkward and uncomfortable position, and the bigger one is the gravity that we all experience all day. So maintaining a posture is primordial for one’s health.
Posture refers to the way your body is positioned whether sitting, standing, or lying down. Your posture is a product of your habits.
There are two distinct types:
Dynamic Posture refers to the way you hold yourself when moving, such as walking, jogging, or leaning down to pick something up.
Static Posture refers to how you position yourself while stationary, such as while sitting, standing, or sleeping.
If your body alignment isn’t optimal your muscle might have to work extra harder to keep you upright and balanced. some muscles might become tighter and inflexible, others will be very loosened up. These dysfunctional adaptations impair the body’s ability to deal with the forces acting on it. Poor posture impacts on joints with extra wear and tear on your joints and ligaments, increase the likelihood of accidents even affecting organs like lungs less efficient.
Why Posture Matters?
More people than ever before are experiencing back, neck, shoulder, and limb pain, and at far earlier ages. While poor posture is not always the cause of these problems, it is frequently a contributing factor. Maintaining proper posture enables you to keep key muscles active and strong, hence reducing the number of aches and pains you encounter. Additionally, poor posture can lead to the development of more serious health problems including:
- Poor circulation
- Digestive problems
- Teeth grinding and jaw pain
- Reduced lung function
FACTORS THAT AFFECT POSTURE
We all don’t have had this shape of the spine since we were born. Babies have a small “C” shaped curved spine, the other curves above mentioned develop with time around 12 -18 months as the muscles strengthen and bones become hard. These curves serve the purpose of keeping us upright and absorbing some stress from small activities like jumping and walking, etc.
Numerous factors contribute to our changing posture as we age. Before going into detail about each element, it’s important to understand that our bones, muscles, and joints all form part of the musculoskeletal system, which defines our posture. The vertebral column, or backbone, is composed of bones (vertebra), joint-like gaps called intervertebral discs, and muscles.
- Age. has a significant influence on bones, muscles, and joints, and the back curves forward over time, resulting in a more stooped posture. In the aged, significant changes in postural attitudes can be detected. This is a natural part of the aging process.
- Height. The intervertebral discs alter the shape, which leads to spinal curvature. Gelatin-like cartilage separates each vertebra. These discs stiffen and lose flexibility with age, resulting in a compressed spine and a forward tilt termed kyphosis. These aging changes are known as senile kyphosis and are deemed typical. On average, every ten years, a person loses around a half-inch in height from their peak height.
- Muscle Mass. Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass with aging. Muscles shrivel and are replaced by fat and/or fibrous tissue, weakening them. Age-related muscular weakness adds to spinal curvature.
- Fat Deposition. Increased body mass might make maintaining proper posture more challenging. It has been demonstrated that persons who were overweight as children are inclined to have bad posture in maturity. A transition from a slim physique to one with greater fat also affects posture. Both genders start at 30. Fat tends to gather around the waist. Men acquire weight till 55 and women until 65. Weight redistribution adds to spine modifications.
- Injury-related Changes. Following an injury, muscles may spasm in order to protect the injured region. While muscle spasms can assist in stabilizing and protecting your injuries from additional harm, they also restrict your movement and produce discomfort. Long-term muscle spasms weaken muscles. Muscles that prevent an injury and those that continue to function normally may cause postural abnormalities. Massage and/or physical therapy can often help restore muscular function.
- Muscular Factors. Posture can be altered by weak or tight muscles. Pain might arise after a time. Muscle weakness or tension can occur when you maintain a posture for too long or undertake normal jobs and chores in a way that strains or overuses your muscles. A 2018 research in Scoliosis Spinal Disorders points out that posture is affected by muscular tension, strength, and flexibility. An active lifestyle may help you avoid poor posture.
- Technology Usage & Body Alignment. Whether you sit at a computer all day, use a tablet or mobile phone, or work with many devices simultaneously—can gradually misalign your body. If you text constantly, you risk developing text neck, a condition in which your neck is kept in excessive flexion, or forward bending, for an extended period of time. This may result in discomfort.
Our posture has an effect on our health and our ability to perform successfully in many areas of life. For example, those with rounded shoulders slumped backs, and necks that force their gaze downward do poorly in interviews, are viewed as less attractive and have a pessimistic attitude on life.
BENEFITS OF GOOD POSTURE
Many of us spend our workdays sitting, therefore it’s necessary that our bodies be aligned properly. It’s vital to understand how posture affects your health, as well as your capacity to perform successfully at work. Some of the advantages of better posture:
- Better Mood and Self-Esteem: Improved posture might help alleviate depression symptoms and boost your self-esteem and happiness as per research.
- More Energy: Poor posture has been shown to have a detrimental effect on energy levels, resulting in exhaustion. Maintaining proper body alignment may aid in your ability to stay focused and enthusiastic at work. Whether you’re delivering packages or caring for patients, maintaining proper posture can help you get more done in a day.
- Increased Confidence: Correcting your posture can have a positive effect on your self-esteem. According to one research, children who maintained an upright, confident posture had far greater confidence in their reasoning – and outperformed their peers on arithmetic exams. Confidence in your ideas at work will eventually aid in your success.
- Better Digestion: When your posture is correct, your internal organs are aligned properly. This results in reduced constriction of the stomach, intestines, and liver, allowing food and digestive fluids to flow freely. Slouching hinders your gastrointestinal system’s natural action, leaving you prone to digestive problems – including constipation and GERD.
- Fewer Headaches! Poor posture causes strain in the upper back, neck, and shoulders, resulting in headaches that present as a throbbing pain at the base of the skull and occasionally in the forehead. Headaches are inconvenient, and this serves as a reminder to maintain proper posture.
- Breathing Becomes Easier: When the body is properly positioned, breathing becomes simpler. Slouching can result in decreased lung capacity, which can result in shortness of breath. Breathing difficulties might impair your capacity to perform at your best.
- Increased Productivity: According to research, posture has an effect on productivity. If you’re in pain, wounded, or exhausted, or if you lack confidence, it’s probable that you’ll have difficulty being focused and productive at work. Because improved posture may have a beneficial effect on your mental and physical health, it helps you to be a more effective team member.
WHAT DOES A GOOD POSTURE LOOK LIKE?
When you look at the spine from the front or the back while standing, all the 33 vertebrae in the spine should look stacked upon each other in a straight line. From the side, the spine should have 3 curves; one at the neck, one at the shoulders, and one on the small of your back. If the vertebrae are properly aligned, you should be able to draw a straight line from just front of your shoulders, behind your hip, in front of your knee, and a few inches in front of your ankle. This maintains your center of gravity squarely above your base of support, allowing you to move effectively and with little fatigue and muscular strain.
Straight and symmetrical posture. It keeps your weight equally distributed across your body. This signifies different things based on your position.
Good Standing Posture
A neutral standing posture refers to your core (trunk/abdomen), your head, and your pelvis being vertically aligned. When you stand, your knees should be straight and forward-pointing, but not locked, and your weight should be evenly distributed between both feet. Your shoulders are lowered but stay (not up by your ears). In a neutral stance, your chin should be elevated to avoid a downward tilt. The position on your knees must be slightly bent not tight and hyperextended. keep the feet a little less than shoulder-width apart. Also, keep your feet flat on the floor.
This neutral positioning is excellent because it enables correct muscular contraction during movement. Additionally, neutral posture distributes your body weight evenly across your skeleton, minimizing stress on any one joint, muscle, tendon, or ligament.
Good Sitting Posture
When seated in a chair, particularly a work chair where you will be typing or using a computer, your arms and thighs should create right angles. This requires that your feet remain flat on the ground and that your thighs and forearms remain parallel to the floor. Your spine should be straight, not saggy, and your head should be in a neutral posture (with your chin up; not with your neck craning forward to see the computer screen). Supportive seats, such as ergonomic desk chairs, are an excellent method to maintain a neutral sitting position while working.
Good Lying or Sleeping Position
When you’re lying in bed, you’re likely to have a preference that seems natural to you. The majority of individuals prefer to sleep on their sides. The National Sleep Foundation, on the other hand, advocates sleeping on your back whenever possible to preserve a neutral spine. Some additional tips,
- As much as possible, sleep in a posture that maintains the curvature in your back.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach, particularly if your mattress is sagging.
- Choose a firm mattress and box spring combination that will not sag.
- Consider sleeping with back support (lumbar support) to improve your comfort.
Need more tips for a better goodnight’s sleep? Read our article for some amazing tips.
Good Walking & Running Posture
While walking, your hips should remain as level as possible, maintain a firm core, but avoid tucking your tailbone under or sticking your belly out and arching your back.
Avoid slouching too. To minimize back and shoulder discomfort while walking or standing, keep your shoulders down and back and focus on maintaining your spine extended. Rather than landing flat-footed with a thud, you should be rolling from your heel to your toe as you walk. Also, avoid extending your leg too far out in front of you. This increases the impact on your joints and causes you to move more slowly. If you want to limit your chance of injury, you should use a smooth, quiet stride rather than bouncing or lumbering along. Take care not to stroll in the incorrect shoes.
METHODS TO IMPROVE POSTURE
But if your posture isn’t great? Try redesigning your environment with the following methods mentioned below.
1. Be Mindful Of Your Posture.
Maintain an awareness of your posture when performing daily tasks such as watching television, dishwashing, or walking. Use your imagination to maintain a sturdy body alignment. Pretend a string is reaching from the top of your head into the air. To keep the head up and shoulders, hips, knees, and ankle straight imagine someone pulling on the thread. While sitting on a chair for office work or using your cellphone, adjust your screen or cellphone so it’s at or slightly below eye level to avoid straining your back muscles.
2. Getting Enough Support.
Sit with proper support for the buttocks, back, and thighs. If required, place a small pillow behind the back and align the hips and thighs with the floor. While sleeping, if prefer sleeping on your side, use proper neck support and also keep a pillow between the legs.
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight.
Carrying an excessive amount of weight can put additional strain on the muscles and cause the body to get out of alignment as per research.
4. Exercise Daily.
While any sort of exercise can help you improve your posture, particular activities can be extremely beneficial. These classes include yoga, tai chi, and others that emphasize bodily awareness. Additionally, it is important to perform workouts that strengthen your core (muscles around your back, abdomen, and pelvis). It is recommended to spend 10 minutes a day doing simple stretching exercises. It will help you improve your general health and your posture by keeping your body supple and active.
Additionally, there are specialized workouts that will assist you in maintaining proper posture. A healthy balance of core and back muscular strength is critical for supporting the upper body and maintaining proper posture. Learn more about specific exercises in our article here.
Consult your physical therapist before attempting any strengthening activities that you are unsure of.
5. Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing.
Along with strengthening the muscles surrounding the lungs, deep breathing can also help to realign tension patterns in the spine, which can result in an improvement in overall posture. A calm, steady breathing pattern strengthens the core, increases tolerance for high-intensity activity, and minimizes the risk of muscular fatigue and injury. Your objective should be to take balanced, equal breaths. Inhale deeply, count to 4, and then exhale deeply to the same count. If you’re uncertain whether you’re a shallow breather, exhale with your hand on your abdomen. Take a deep breath and watch your hand move. According to a 2018 study, exercising and stimulating the body’s deep muscles not only improved alignment but also boosted breathing capacity.
6. Wear Comfortable Footwear.
Always prefer comfortable footwear with adequate heel height and appropriate arch support. High heels can put more strain on your knees. In high heels, for example, you may find yourself losing your balance and walking differently than usual. This increases the amount of tension placed on your muscles and negatively impacts your posture. They may be trendy, but they are not easy to wear. This can cause back pain by misaligning your spine and putting pressure on your nerves.
7. Don’t be Low Rider.
Yes, it’s refreshing and comfortable to recline over a lengthy journey. However, it is detrimental to your posture. Rather than that, scoot your seat closer to the steering wheel. Make an effort not to lock your legs. Slightly bend your knees. They should be at or slightly above hip level. Don’t forget to support yourself with a cushion or rolled-up towel behind you. Determine that your car seat and headrest are properly adjusted to facilitate safe and comfortable driving.
8. Take a Break.
No one is capable of sitting with excellent posture all of the time; it takes a great deal of power to do so. Frequently change positions—every 20 to 30 minutes is advised in research. When you see your muscles becoming tired or you notice yourself slouching, stand up and walk about.
Improving your posture improves your mood. Sustaining a positive state of mind enables you to conduct yourself well. This positive cycle demonstrates why focusing on your body posture is one of the most effective ways to improve your appearance and overall health, both instantly and over time. The importance of good posture and health in maintaining the alignment of your spine, head, and hips provides a lot of health benefits for you. It is critical to maintaining awareness of how you stand, sit, and sleep in order to maintain a pain-free and comfortable existence to Prime With Time!