Posture is the position of your body parts in relation to each other while standing, sitting, and performing daily tasks. When your posture is good, all parts are perfectly aligned and the body is well-balanced. The natural curve of the spine is maintained and there is no undue stress on any joints, ligaments, and muscles.
How good posture helps…
- Breathing becomes easy, deep and full. This enhances oxygen supply to all the organs.
- You can slim your waistline by 3 – 4cm simply by standing straight [Try it with a measuring tape].
- With an erect posture, the abdomen is not cramped, which facilitates proper functioning of the intestine.
- An upright posture enhances the perception of age and beauty. That's why all fashion models have to undergo postural training
- Thought process and concentration improve because now the brain doesn't have to focus more on aligning the body. It's a matter of devoting resources.
- Good posture reduces stress on the muscles of the neck and back and also keeps the spinal discs in place. Lack of attention to posture is what's responsible for an alarming increase in back and neck pain in desk workers.
- Improved posture directly effects your body language and self-esteem. Posture is one of the first three things people notice about a person, the other two being hair and eyes.
- Good posture reduces the chances of injury and muscle strain; helps you move more easily and more powerfully.
How does posture go bad?
You're not born with bad posture; you cultivate it as you grow up without realising the damage you're doing. During all the activities you perform in a day, not standing upright, sitting stooped and slouching at your desk causes the natural curves of your spine to reduce and gradually disappear. This makes the head to protrude forward and the hips to tilt ahead, which starts a cascade of physical and psychological changes. The top three culprits behind an incorrect posture are…
- Habit and lack of education and awareness.
- Muscle imbalance and a weak core.
- Workstations and chairs that are not ergonomically designed.
Incorrect posture leads to…
- Neck and back pain problems
- Muscle spasm/tightness
- TMJ [Temporomandibular joint, the area around the jaw] problems
- Reduced endorphin production
- Mid-back pain
- Decreased range of motion
- Low back pain
- Increased fatigue
- Reduction of vital lung capacity
- Gastro-intestinal problems
- Cramming of internal organs
- Loss of overall height [postural distortion]
- Emotional instability
- Loss of balance or dizziness
- Arthritic development
- Hip, knee, ankle, foot issues.
Incorrect posture can even cause disc pathologies which need back surgery. Psychologically, it makes you feel less energetic, lowers self-esteem and adds worry lines on your face.
What to do…
Correcting your posture seems like an uphill task, but it isn't. Primarily, it involves a basic knowledge about assuming a correct sitting, standing and sleeping posture. Secondly, you need a strong and balanced musculature to maintain this posture.
- Take frequent breaks from continuous desk work.
- Check posture every 30 minutes.
- Stretch regularly.
- Get postural check-up.
- Use backrest and footrest.
- Stretch: If you spend long hours in front of a computer, make it a habit to stand for a few minutes every half hour and stretch.
- Strengthen your core: Pilates and yoga help build abdominal and pelvic muscle strength or core; these muscles form the foundation for good posture.
- Support your back: No matter where you sit, use a back rest while sitting and avoid sagging sofas, which do not support your back.
- Eat right: Bones need calcium for good strength. Also, role of vitamin B12 and vitamin D is well proven for good health of bones, muscles and nerves. Make sure you eat a balanced diet.
Getting a postural check up would make you aware of your present postural status and then you can work with your doctor to attain a balanced posture. This would certainly add life to your days!
Check your posture often. Not just while sitting, but even when you are standing or walking. With practice, correct posture becomes second nature.
Did you know?
A recent study concluded that an individual's 'Overall Health Status' decreases significantly with a forward head.
Check your posture
Stand sideways in front of a mirror with your torso bare and observe the following.
- Is your chin/head jutting forward? Yes/No
- Do you have a hump on upper back or is it rounded? Yes/No
- Are your shoulders rounded and falling forward? Yes /No
- Is your lower back arched or swayed? Yes/No
- Is there an outward curve in your lower back? Yes/No
- Do your ankles roll in, causing your arches to flatten? Yes/No
- Are your hands directly beside your thighs? Or do you hold them more towards the front of your thighs? Yes/No
- Is one shoulder lower than the other? [Side view] Yes/No
Give yourself one mark for every Yes and zero for every No.
- 1 – 3
- Mild postural problem
- 4 – 6
- Moderate postural problem
- 7 – 8
- Severe postural problem
"The correct way to sit is:
- Keep your back completely supported with the backrest, which should be at an angle of 90 – 110 degrees.
- Keep the shoulders braced back and neck aligned above shoulders.
- Keep the laptop or desktop at eye level.
- Make sure your seat has armrests and a footrest to make this position comfortable.
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