How to Have a Good Posture
How many times did your mom tell you, “Sit up straight!” or “Don’t slouch”. She was doing you a favor by trying to ensure your good posture.
Far too often, though, as adults, we slip back into all those bad habits that can lead to poor posture. Let’s explore why good posture is so good and why bad posture can lead to complications.
Muscles Do The Heavy Lifting
The biggest problem is that we don’t consciously maintain our posture. Our muscles do the hard work, but we need to make sure these muscle groups – hamstrings, large back muscles and abdominal core muscles – are strong and supportive.
When these postural control muscles function properly, they prevent gravity from pushing us forward, therefore we can more easily maintain good posture and balance.
Good posture is critically important for our health. After all, posture is what helps us sit, stand and walk with the least strain on these muscles.
What Poor Posture Does To Your Body
On the other hand, poor posture can lead to excessive strain on these muscles. People with poor posture hunch forward or have “phone neck”, meaning the head is tilted forward. If you sit for long periods in the workplace, you tend to bend forward at the waist to hunch over your keyboard. As a result, your shoulders slouch forward and pretty soon, these muscles become weakened over prolonged periods. Then, you are more prone to low back pain and even injury.
Over time, the decreased flexibility makes your posture worse, and factors like obesity and even the shoes you wear can contribute to poor posture.
Can You Correct Your Posture?
Don’t worry too much, however, because poor posture can be corrected. It is a matter of readapting your muscles and joints to a better postural position. This starts with you having an increased awareness of your posture. For example, every 30 minutes while sitting at your desk, make a conscious note of your posture. Chances are, your shoulders are slouching forward, so roll them back!
When you slouch forward, your core abdominal muscles become relaxed, so be sure to “suck it in” and engage your core as you sit.
There are other things you can do to ensure a better body position while you sit:
- Use a footrest to rest your feet on to reduce strain on your lower back.
- Don’t cross your legs while you sit
- Adjust your chair height and chair back to a proper position
- Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.
- Set a timer to get up and stretch or walk around at least every hour
With conscious efforts and by replacing bad habits with good ones, your posture will change from bad to good in no time at all.
If you work in front of a computer all day you may want to see Dr Allard to assess if some adjustments would be helpful to “jump start” your efforts to maintain a proper posture.