It’s a commonly accepted fact that regular exercise helps improve overall health and wellbeing. But the degree to which it can help us is often underestimated. As we exercise, our bodies become more flexible, stronger and better aligned, allowing us to move more freely and with better, more healthy posture. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of improving our posture through fitness and how it can help us move better and feel better.
1. Get Up, Straighten Up: Benefits of Proper Posture
There’s no question that proper posture should be part of your daily health care routine. Not only can proper posture help improve your overall physical condition, it can also lead to numerous benefits.
Good posture starts with the spine, the main support for the body. When we slump or sit in a hunched position, the lungs are restricted and breathing is less efficient. Our diaphragm and abdominal muscles are weaker when in this state, leading to shallow breaths and less oxygen uptake in the body. However, when the spine is in a neutral position there is less compression in the chest and the rib cage is able to expand more for better oxygen uptake. As a result, breathing is deeper, allowing for better oxygen levels in your tissues.
Improved Digestion and Immune System
At the same time, good posture helps to ensure that your internal organs are in the correct position and that there is no extra stress on the muscles and ligaments of the abdomen. This makes it easier for the digestive process to proceed, helping to break down and assimilate nutrients more effectively. A stronger digestive system leads to a stronger immune system.
It’s undeniable that poor posture can lead to pain in the neck, back, and shoulders. Body fatigue and muscular strain are common indicators of bad posture and can make daily activities difficult to perform. By standing and sitting with correct posture, there is less strain on the muscles, which can reduce the risk of injury and fatigue. Additionally, good posture can provide relief to existing pain since it improves the proper alignment of the spine and joints.
The following are a few additional benefits associated with proper posture:
- Reduced stress on joints
- Increased energy levels
- Better concentration
- Improved self-confidence
- Reduced headaches
Correcting your posture not only has the potential to improve your physical health, it can also lead to psychological benefits. As the saying goes, “stand tall and own the room”, good posture will make you look better, feel better, and help you reach your goals!
2. Uncover the Hidden Issues Beneath Poor Posture
Poor posture is not just about looking less attractive or feeling a twinge of pain in the neck. It is indicative of certain subtle underlying issues that require attention. Here’s what to look out for.
- In extreme cases, poor posture may be due to structural misalignment of the spine caused by conditions like scoliosis.
- More often than not, a slump or leaning forward in the upper body is due to weakened postural muscles that may have been overused in daily activities.
- If one side of your body is weaker than the other due to an injury or poor training habits, it may lead to postural imbalances and create the need for compensation.
- One way to assess compensation patterns is to observe the body from 3 sides – front, back and one side.
Look out for subtle signs, such as leaning of the head to one side, uneven asymmetry in the shoulders or a misalignment of the hips. These are indicators of poor posture due to muscle instability or compensation patterns.
Searching for the underlying cause of poor posture is the key to correcting the postural issues and preventing further injury or discomfort.
3. Move Better: How to Improve Your Postural Alignment
When it comes to improving your posture, it’s all about thinking about the alignment of your body. Poor postural alignment can lead to musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and increased injury risk. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Stand Tall. Focus on pulling your head up, your shoulders back, and your pelvis in a neutral alignment.
- Get Moving. Regular exercise that focuses on balancing strength and flexibility can help reduce postural pain and improve your posture.
- Engage Your Core. Strengthening your core muscles will help you maintain proper posture while standing, walking, or sitting for long periods of time.
- Sleep Right. Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive to prevent neck and back pain while you sleep.
- Listen to Your Body. If any area of your body starts to ache, take a break and check your posture.
Postural improvement takes time, but with the right tools, knowledge, and practice, it can be achieved. A good way to start is to take a few moments throughout the day to check your posture and make adjustments if needed. These small changes can make a big impact on the quality of your movement, comfort, and overall health.
4. Take the Challenge: Exercises for Posture Perfection
Want to create a better posture while working from home? Regular body exercises can help strengthen and improve your posture. Read on for a few exercises to get you started.
- Cobra Pose – Lie face down with your hands by your sides. Press your pelvis into the ground and press your hands firmly into the floor. Slowly raise your torso up off the ground while keeping your hips pressed down. Hold this pose for a few breaths before releasing back to the ground. Repeat 10-15 times.
- Cat-Cow Pose – Begin on your hands and knees, with your shoulders directly over your wrists. Inhale and lift your chest while pressing your pelvis down towards the floor. Exhale and curve your spine reaching your head towards your thighs. Inhale and reset back into the first position. Do this 10-15 times.
- Overhead Reach – Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Place a light weight in one hand and straighten your arm over your head. Make sure to keep your shoulder pressed down away from your ears. Reach the weight towards the ceiling and hold for 30 seconds. Do 3-5 reps on each side.
- Wall Angels – Stand with your back against the wall and your feet hip-width apart. Place your arms against the wall and keep your shoulder pressed down. Move your arms up and down in a butterfly motion. Repeat 10-15 times.
These posture perfection exercises can help improve your posture and give you a stronger body. Do these exercises every day for best results.
5. Stronger You: How to Keep Positive Postural Habits
Keeping your posture “upright and strong” is key for avoiding back pain, poor circulation, and other negative health effects. To help you stay strong, here are five tips for forming stronger habits that keep you feeling confident and energized:
- Align your spine: Your spine should be in a neutral position – relaxed but straight. Keep your head up and chest out to form a healthy line from your neck down to your hips.
- Be mindful of the angle of your elbows: Keep your elbows close to your body rather than extending outward. This helps in keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- Proper leg placement: Crossing your legs while seated contributes to a host of joint, muscle, and posture-related issues. To avoid discomfort, keep your knees at a 90-degree angle and keep your feet resting flat.
Take breaks throughout the day to stretch and adjust your posture. Much of our day-to-day tasks involve sitting, so it’s important to take steps (literally) to allow your muscles and joints to reset. Set a timer or reminders on your smartphone to remind you to move, and make sure your desk and chair height are properly adjusted.
Optimize your sleeping position to set the tone for a better posture. Whether you are sleeping on your back or side, gently tuck in your chin and make sure your spine is in a neutral position when you are resting.
Strong posture is something that takes time and effort. But with the right steps and attitude, you can improve your posture and enjoy more mobility, better posture, and a healthier life. With a little bit of practice and determination, you too can stand up for better body posture.