As a child, you might remember your parents reminding you to sit up straight and not to slouch. What might have been annoying then is actually pretty good advice now. Here’s why good posture is so important when it comes to your health.
What Is Good Posture?
Your posture is the position your body takes when you’re standing, sitting, or lying down. Proper posture is when your body parts align the way that they should when using the right amount of muscle tension to support yourself.
Good posture is when your ears are aligned evenly over your shoulders. Your shoulders should be back and relaxed. This helps to align your spine, too.
Your spine has three curves: one at your neck, one in the middle of your back, and one in your lower back. Proper posture helps to maintain these natural curves.
Posture is unconscious, so you don’t have to think about it. Certain groups of muscles, called postural muscles, help your body to hold good posture and to keep gravity from working against you. These muscle groups also help to keep you on balance as you walk or move. Having good posture helps to avoid straining the muscle groups needed to do daily activities.
There are two kinds of posture: static and dynamic. Static posture is the posture you maintain when you’re not moving. This would be when you’re sleeping, standing, or sitting still. Dynamic posture is the opposite. It’s how you hold yourself when you’re in motion. Examples of this are when you’re walking, stretching, or running.
What Can Affect Posture?
Slouching isn’t just a bad habit. There can be some physical reasons that contribute to poor posture. Muscles that are too tight or that have a smaller range of motion can make it harder for you to position parts of your body correctly.
The strength of your legs and core muscles can also affect your posture and the way you carry yourself. Your core muscles include muscles in the:
These muscles connect your top and bottom halves. Weak core muscles can cause you to slouch or to move your top half forward more than the bottom half.
Additionally, our modern lifestyles may contribute to poor posture. Looking down at our phones or sitting at a desk for several hours a day working on a computer changes the way we hold ourselves. You may notice that you are slumped forward when performing these activities, rather than sitting or standing up straight.
Benefits of Good Posture
Good posture isn’t just about how you present yourself. Having poor posture can actually affect your physical and mental health.
Better mood and energy. One of the best benefits of good posture is the way that you feel about yourself. Improving your posture can help you stay focused and more energized throughout the day. This can help improve your mood, too.
Research also suggests that good posture can lead to more self-confidence. When you carry yourself well and feel good about yourself, you’re less likely to experience depressive thoughts. This can give you more self-esteem and a better feeling of pride and confidence in yourself.
Bone, joint, and muscle health. As mentioned, your posture depends on your muscles and bones. When you align your spine correctly, you put less stress on your joints and bones. This can lead to less overall pain or reduced chances of developing problems like osteoarthritis.
Even though there are tons of exercises out there to help you improve your core muscle strength, doctors say that practicing proper posture is one of the best ways to help tone this muscle group.
Better breathing and fewer headaches. When you sit or stand up straight with your shoulders back, you’ll find that it’s easier to breathe. There’s more room to open up your chest for deeper breaths. Practicing poor posture, such as when you’re slouching over, can cause tension in your shoulders and neck. This can lead to headaches in your forehead or the back of your skull.
Improved spine and neck health. By practicing proper posture, you help reduce the risk of back and neck pain. Slouching or hunching at a desk can affect the way your spine grows. Back pain is actually one of the most common reasons why people miss work. If your job requires you to stand for long periods of time, standing properly can help you fight back against fatigue and leg pain or cramps.