Why is it important?
Who cares if you’re a bit hunched over or if you have a sway back?
Well, posture is very important. On the surface it has an effect on our day-to-day appearance. It also runs deeper than that. Today we are going to look at the negative effects poor posture can have on the body, the positive effects good posture has and how to improve your posture.
The negative effects of Poor Posture
Poor posture can lead to;
- Poor posture places strain on both the upper and lower back, this can result in back pain.
- Poor posture also puts pressure on your posterior muscles, which has a negative impact on your neck. Whether your shoulders are hunched forward or your head is aimed down (think computer and mobile phone use), the strain put on your neck can lead to tension headaches caused by tight muscles.
- The three main curves of the spine should ideally form a ‘S’ shape when aligned properly. Over time, poor posture can cause the natural curves to alter; this will put excessive pressure in the wrong positions of the back often leading to pain and discomfort.
- Poor posture can throw out your entire system of muscles. You may find yourself tossing and turning to find a comfortable position at night for your neck and back, this can lead to hours of lost sleep and over weeks and months it quickly adds up.
- If your sitting posture is poor it can lead to digestive issues. Compressed organs can slow the digestive process and cause you to feel bloated and sluggish.
The Positive Effects of Good Posture
Good posture will;
- When we stand well we allow our muscles to function efficiently. This reduces the number of muscles overworking and becoming short and tight and the opposing muscles becoming long and weak.
- If muscles are being used more efficiently, the body will use less energy.
- With the muscles working efficiently our structure (bones/joints) are in the ideal position and therefore the amount of excess wear and tear they receive is reduced.
- If the spine is in its natural “S” curve load is properly distributed throughout the spine and reducing / eliminating many forms of back pain
- With all of the above factors taken into account good posture will just make you look and feel more confident. You’ll stand a little taller with your chest lifted and shoulders open and it will only have a positive effect on how you see yourself and how others view you.
How do you improve your Posture?
My advice would be to begin by strengthening your core. The abdominal muscles are there to support the internal organs and the spine and essentially hold us upright so it’s a great place to start.
Secondly, and especially for those who work at a desk 30 plus hours per week, work on opening up the chest and strengthening the back muscles. This will help to counteract the position your body sits in each day.
Finally, find your centre!
By this I mean imagine the mid line of your body and then lengthen it out, this will “lengthen” your spine and make you feel a bit taller. Mastering this alone should help you improve your posture. If you’re struggling there is a Pilates exercise called “The Wall” which is great for aiding this. Give it a go and you’ll have better posture in no time.