It’s not all that surprising to most people that having good or poor posture can make a real difference in your health and wellness, your vitality, and even your longevity!
Your posture also makes a considerable difference in the outward appearance and the attitude you have towards life that you convey to friends, family and business associates. It tells the world how you feel about yourself and your willingness to respond to life’s opportunities.
Operating with ‘Poor Posture’ will negatively impact your:
- Muscles & Tendons
- Outlook & Attitude
- Mental alertness
- Athletic performance
- Physical Attractiveness
Where as, practicing ‘Good Posture’ will positively impact all of the above!
People have found that poor posture can make them look, feel and act 10 years older than they really are. And conversely, good posture can help people look, feel and act 10 years younger than they really are. So if you are 45, do you want to have a vital age of 35 or 55… your posture will be a key factor in determining this.
Fortunately, it’s easy and simple to do.
In general, people underestimate the importance of proper posture. In order for us to do the day to day tasks we need posture. Each movement can be broken down into a few steps. Once you think about doing something, your brain tells your muscles to contract. This contraction moves your bones closer or farther apart from each other via your joints. Without this you wouldn’t be able to do the things you love to do like; swimming, volleyball, shopping, sitting, you name it. In order for you to do this well or without injury depends on your posture. Maximum agility and performance depends on the strength of your muscles. Specifically, your core muscles, the muscles located around your pelvis and mid-section. This is where your center of gravity is and where all your movements and posture originate.
In other words, your posture is very important for your health.
The next time you are in a crowded public area, take a look around. How many people are actually sitting or standing correctly? Chances are they are bent over, shoulders rounded, head tilted forward, and probably not very comfortable. The odds are stacked against you, literally. Gravity helps you continue negative posture patterns. And the only thing that helps you maintain a straight line is the strength and resilience of your body. Take a look at the top athletes in our society today, without even knowing it they have great posture. While training they have built their muscles to support their posture.
Two things can happen, physiologically, to encourage poor posture. First, one or more muscles can become weak from lack of use, called atrophy. Its not called “wasting muscle” for nothing. This can happen quite easily, having a sedentary lifestyle is one of the most common ways. Your blood brings vital oxygen and nutrients and takes away metabolic waste. When a muscle begins to atrophy it progressively loses its blood supply. Until it becomes so weak you can’t use it anymore. And since each muscle movement has a counter movement, if a muscle ‘dies’ the counter muscle will have nothing to work against. For example, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle that let’s your tricep, the big muscle on the back of your arm, atrophy you would have a very hard time straightening your elbow. Use it or lose it!
Second, your muscles can be overworked. When a muscle is overworked it can stay contracted. If it stays contracted it will not be able to accept new blood supply or eliminate waste. It turns into beef jerky. Not only does it prevent proper blood microcirculation, it can eventually pull on other muscles or bones causing postural deviations.
These two factors contribute to poor posture because they cause your body to become unbalanced. When your body is unbalanced it can not react or perform actions effectively. You will begin to feel stiffness, pain, and even immobility.
For many people this can happen very easily in the neck. For many reasons, people tend to tilt their head forwards, or let their neck slouch backwards. Whatever the reason, it’s very unhealthy. Think about it, your head weighs on average 8-10 pounds. That’s the same as a bowling ball. That bowling ball has to be balanced on your spine, one of the most crucial structures in your body! If you are tilting your head forward or backward you force your muscles to hold that weight for extended periods of time. Ouch!
Poor posture may be considered pandemic in our society. You should have a good idea of what good posture is and steps that can be taken to elevate the aches and pains that come from living a life with a misaligned body.
It can all start right now. Take a look at how you are holding your body. Whether you are sitting down, standing or walking.
Align your back with the back of the chair, and if there is lumbar support, use it.
Avoid rolling your shoulders forward, and leaning forward from the waist.
Flex your arms at a 90 degree angle if working at a table or desk.
Make sure your knees are at a 90 degree angle as well, with feet flat on the floor.
Now, if you could see your profile, can you make out a straight line from your ear to your shoulder to your waist? If not, make those adjustments.
Keep feet shoulder width apart.
Avoid locking your knees.
Make sure your head is balanced on the neck and your ears are aligned with your shoulders.
Keep your shoulders straight and pulled back.
Slightly tuck your tail bone, which will engage your abdominal muscles.
Make sure your head is balanced in your neck and your ears are aligned with your shoulders; look straight ahead as much as possible.
Keep your shoulders pulled back to avoid rounding them forward.
A slight swing of the hips with each step will help you with proper foot placement and length of step.
Swing your arms to maintain balance. The left arm should swing with the right leg, and right arm with the left leg. With each step, your heel should hit first, then the outside of the foot, then the ball of your foot.
Specific exercise and or yoga can be quite helpful in building supportive muscle structure. There is also a wide array of helpful alternative therapies to help with muscle pain and structural alignment. Some of these modalities are; Chiropractic, Rolfing, Tai Chi, Massage Therapy, and Cranial Sacral Therapy.
Also, the more you slouch, the more you begin to feel like a slouch. We have all heard the phrases; “Chip on your shoulder”, or “Feel the weight of the world”. People don’t realize it, but they do speak in literal terms. Chances are if you are rounding your shoulders forward, it may be an emotional issue that is expressing itself physically. Other people pick up on those clues. If you chronically use bad posture, other people may begin to think you don’t care, or you are depressed, or you’re angry. Having good posture will help you look better and feel better.
It is important to understand how and why your body is designed the way it is. Without proper posture of muscles and bones you will begin to feel pain which will eventually cause complications to your daily living. If left unattended, it can lead to devastating results, affecting your mind, body and health. Many causes of low back pain can come from weak core muscles that can not support the back. Throughout the day touch base with your body and see what kinds of adjustments need to be made. There are many ways of helping yourself maintain proper alignment. The more you work with your posture the easier it will become to stand or sit up straight. You will be healthier because you will have better circulation, more confidence, improved nerve stimulation, and more energy. This will contribute to a younger vital age.
- May 2013