What does “posture” refer to?
Good posture involves more than simply standing up straight. It is a term that refers to how we hold our bodies, whether we are standing up or seated. This includes the placement of our feet, the positioning of our legs, hips and backs, and how we hold our necks and heads. A general rule of thumb is that our bodies should be held in alignment.
Examples of poor posture include the following:
- A curved spine, either while standing or while sitting down
- When standing, feet that are not placed flat on the ground
- A bent leg while standing, resulting in the hips not being level
- Standing with the neck twisted or the head held at an angle
Why do I have to pay attention to my posture?
Good posture creates many benefits to physical and mental health, including the following:
- Better energy: People who practice good posture habits tend to sleep better than those who don’t, possibly because they experience fewer aches, pains and injuries. During their waking hours, they have more energy and higher levels of productivity.
- Fewer back problems: Poor posture can result in pain and stiffness in the back and neck, while also aggravating the symptoms of existing injuries and conditions. Due to stress on the muscles in the upper back and neck, poor posture can also lead to more headaches.
- Less pain in the knees, hips and feet: Poor alignment can lead to knee pain and stiffness, plantar fasciitis and loss of stability and flexibility in the hips.
- Less shoulder pain: A hunched posture (slouching) can result in inflammation and pinching of the tendons in the rotator cuff – the muscles connecting the upper arm to the shoulder. If left untreated, this can lead to a more serious injury, such as a tear in the rotator cuff.
- Better mental health: Good posture can improve self-confidence and reduce anxiety, leading to better overall mental health.
How can I improve my posture?
The following tips can help you improve your posture for better physical and mental health:
- When standing, try to keep your body in a straight line, without being too rigid.
- Gently roll your shoulders periodically, to keep them from becoming stiff.
- When seated in front of a computer, practice good ergonomics. Your feet should be flat on the floor, your wrists should be level while typing, and your screen should be at eye level.
- If you spend long periods of time sitting, get up and walk at least once every thirty minutes.
- Simple exercises like seated pelvic tilts and bridge poses can help improve posture.