Are you sitting comfortably? According to recent surveys not many of us are. A recent study shows that one sixth of the Uk population suffers from back, spine and shoulder problems. And Bad posture is one of the big culprits for this statistic.
Good posture is not just about keeping up appearances. Studies have shown a fundamental link between bad posture and a range of conditions that can be caused or worsened by bad posture. In this blog, we will explore the importance of good posture and discover a few simple tips to help you stand a little straighter and hopefully feel better for it.
Why is posture important?
Our bodies are like a well oiled machine. Several systems, complex yet simple, work in tandem to keep your body functioning throughout the day. One of the most important elements of this is your spine. Your spine acts as a support beam for your entire body, keeping pressure and weight off your internal organs so they can perform their vital tasks. This is why bad posture can have a negative impact on a range of different bodily parts and functions.
How we hold ourselves affects our musculoskeletal system, the system that regulates how your tendons, ligaments and bones connect and work together. Putting extra pressure on one part of this system can lead to certain organs not performing their usual functions properly. You might not notice instantaneously, but over time bad posture and the pressure it puts on your body, can have some quite serious health implications.
Bad posture and how to avoid it
Half a lifetime ago, when I was attending secondary school, there was a trend of wearing your backpack as low as it would go. At the time, the words “you’ll regret that when you’re older” meant nothing to me and I was happy to lower my backpack, despite it not feeling natural on my spine. Over a decade later, and several chiropractor appointments later, I must admit, I regret it. Bad posture isn’t an overnight development, It’s the result of making the same mistake a series of times.
Our modern day lives don’t make maintaining a good posture easy. Technology has improved our lives dramatically, yet is one of the worst culprits for bad posture. Overuse of mobile phones for example, can lead to a condition known as text neck. This overextension of your neck muscles can lead to discomfort and can lead to the neck becoming deconditioned and unbalanced, making it harder to maintain correct posture. People who work desk jobs, or jobs where they are sat down for extended periods of the day, can be particularly vulnerable to bad posture.
Good Posture, happy brain
But posture isn’t just about physical impact on your body. Studies have shown a clear correlation between bad posture and poor mental health. The study found that those with bad posture performed worse during speech and focus based tests. So good posture isn’t just healthy for your body, it’s healthy for your mind. The study concluded that sitting upright may well be an effective way to reduce stress and improve mental cognition and focus.
Posture plays a big part of how we see ourselves and how others see us. Standing with your shoulders back without slouching the spine, can project an image of confidence and self assuredness. This basic method of boosting your self esteem can have a big impact on your outlook on life, and a positive impact on your mental health.
Top tips for Correct Posture
Now we’ve explored the causes of bad posture and the benefits of correct posture, here are some basic tips that you can implement in your day to day life. These tips will help you make little changes to your posture that could have a big impact on your body and mind.
Ergonomic Workstations. If your job requires you to be at a desk for several hours at a time, make your space work for you. Make sure your computer or laptop is at eye level to avoid straining your neck. Ergonomic chairs or standing desks can help promote correct posture for those who may be sat in a static position.
Stretch and strengthen. As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog, dynamic stretching is really important to prepare your muscles and body for the strains of the day. Stretching routines from Yoga and Pilates are great for strengthening muscles and promoting good posture.
Regular breaks. If you have to be sat down for extended periods, try to get up and stretch your legs and muscles frequently. This will promote good blood flow around your body, which in turn wakes up the body and mind, and prevents you from sitting in a position that is bad for your posture for too long.
Supportive footwear. Our feet have a natural curvature designed to support our spine and body. When this curvature is not supported by our shoes, it can apply pressure on the feet, which in turn can lead to painful symptoms of bad posture, such as bunions or plantar fasciitis, and shin splints.
Sleep position. We spend almost a third of our life asleep. So investing in a good mattress and bed is vital to maintaining good posture. Make sure your mattress is firm enough to support your body. If your waking up with discomfort, try changing your sleeping environment to suit you.
Use Props. There is a huge range of posture correctors, lumbar supports, cushions and footwear that can all promote good posture. Identify what area of the body you are suffering discomfort and see which of these options may be able to help you.
Stay Hydrated. Keeping the body hydrated is essential for maintaining healthy joints and plates. So a simple glass of water can help you on your way to an improved posture.
Good posture isn’t’ just about appearances. It’s a reflection of how you care for your body and mind. By taking a few simple steps to promote good posture, you can greatly reduce your risk of musculoskeletal issues and also feel a little better about yourself in the process. By implementing some of these tips, we hope you can take charge of your body and stand firm and tall against bad posture.