Getting It Straight
Improve Your Posture for Better Health
- Sit up straight! This common request may have been how you first heard about posture, the way you hold your body. Posture isn’t just about how you look. How you position yourself can help or hurt your health over your lifetime.
Posture is not only about how well you sit, but how well you move and go about your daily life.
- How you hold yourself when you’re not moving—such as when you’re sitting, standing, or sleeping—is called static posture. Dynamic posture is how you position your body while you’re moving, like walking or bending over to pick something up. It’s important to consider both static and dynamic components of posture.
Posture can be affected by many things: your age, the situations you find yourself in, and your daily choices. For instance, children may have to adjust to carry heavy backpacks to school. Pregnant women move differently to accommodate growing babies.
Your posture involves your musculoskeletal system. This includes your bones, muscles, joints, and other tissues that connect the parts of your body together. It’s what provides form, support, stability, and movement to your body.
How you hold yourself can either align or misalign your musculoskeletal system. Throughout life, this system must adapt to the type of work you do, the hobbies you enjoy, how you use electronic devices, injuries, and even the kind of shoes you wear.
You may think that sitting with slumped shoulders or bending at your back instead of your knees sometimes won’t hurt you. But small changes in how you hold yourself and move can add up over a lifetime.
Years of slouching wears away at your spine to make it more fragile and prone to injury. Holding your body and moving in unhealthy ways often leads to neck, shoulder, and back pain.
Poor posture can also decrease your flexibility, how well your joints move, and your balance. It can impact your ability to do things for yourself and increase your risk for falls. Slumped posture can even make it more difficult to digest the food you eat and breathe comfortably.
Our bodies change as we age. These natural changes make it especially important for older adults to maintain good posture, strength, flexibility, and balance. Older adults tend to adopt a progressively hunched posture. When shoulders continue to round forward over time, it creates excessive loading on the shoulder joint. This can create injury and limit the independence of older adults.
It’s never too early or late in life to work on improving your posture and how you move.
One way to improve your posture is to be aware of it in the first place. It’s important to take a look at your posture before it becomes a problem. Yoga, tai chi, and other types of classes that focus on body awareness and mindfulness can help you learn to feel what’s wrong in your own posture. They also help you connect your physical posture with your emotional state, offering benefits in both areas.
Be mindful of your posture and how you’re moving. Think about lifting your head, pulling your shoulders back, and tightening your abdominal muscles in everyday situations. Be aware of repetitive postures, like regularly lifting heavy objects, and holding positions for a long time, like sitting at a computer all day at work.
If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, make sure you have a good setup. It’s important that your workstation fits you the best it can. You should also switch sitting positions often, take brief walks around the office, and gently stretch your muscles every so often to help relieve muscle tension.
The foundation of good posture is having a body that can support it. This means having strong abdominal and back muscles, flexibility, and a balanced body over your life. Another way to improve posture is to lose weight, especially around your gut.
Leave a reply →