How to improve posture and why it's important
Having good posture can play an important role in your physical and mental health. Practicing good posture when you’re sitting or standing can help prevent injuries, reduce joint pain, boost your energy levels, and improve your self-confidence. You can use this guide to help you understand what good posture is, why it’s important, and how it can help you improve your overall health.
What Is Good Posture?
Good posture simply means that when you’re sitting or standing, your body has the proper alignment. You can train yourself to have correct posture, which puts less stress on your muscles, joints, and ligaments. There are several ways you can check to see whether your posture is good. The following indicates what correct posture looks like when you’re standing:
- Chin parallel to the ground.
- Neutral spine that follows the natural curve of your back.
- Arms at your sides with straight elbows.
- Slight bend in your knees so that you’re not locking your joints.
- Body weight distributed evenly between both feet.
The following indicates what correct posture looks like when you’re sitting down:
- Feet flat on the floor.
- Back straight.
- Shoulders relaxed.
- Knees and hips resting at an even height.
Why Is Good Posture Important?
Having and maintaining good posture can help you improve your physical and mental health. Some key benefits of having the right posture include:
- Reduced back and neck pain: When you stop slouching and your posture is good, it means you’re properly aligning your spine, which reduces the pressure on the tendons, ligaments, and muscles in your neck and lower back. This reduced pressure can often help alleviate any neck and back pain you may be experiencing.
- More energy: Good posture means that you’re using your muscles properly, which helps to reduce the stress on your joints. Improving your posture can also help to relieve muscle fatigue, which can make you feel more energetic.
- Better digestion: When you slouch, you’re compressing your abdominal organs, which means that they have to work harder to digest food and process nutrients properly. Good posture, however, allows these muscles to function properly, which helps to reduce the chance of common digestion issues, such as acid reflux or constipation.
- Fewer headaches: Poor posture leads to increased tension in your neck muscles, which can cause severe or frequent headaches. By improving your posture, you can often reduce muscle tension, leading to fewer headaches.
- Improved form when exercising: When you exercise, having good posture can help you stay balanced, which reduces your risk of common injuries. Whether you’re running, dancing, or playing tennis, maintaining good posture can help you improve your form.
- Better mood: While it may not seem obvious, having good posture can improve your mood. It helps to reduce any pain while improving your energy levels, causing you to feel happier and more confident in yourself.
How Can You Improve Your Posture?
Whether you want to reduce your joint pain, perfect an exercise technique, or give yourself a confidence boost, there are many ways you can practice good posture. Below are a few useful tips that may help you improve your posture:
Check Your Posture
Often, you may be slouching without even realizing it. Check your posture as you perform everyday activities, such as working at your desk or cooking dinner. It may be helpful for you to set reminders so that you can see how you’re doing. For example, you could set a daily phone reminder to sit up straight in the afternoon when you may be feeling more tired.
It’s impossible to have good posture all the time, so give yourself frequent breaks to move your body. If you sit a lot during your workday, try to move every 30 minutes. You could, for example, get a drink of water, go to the restroom, or chat with a colleague. When you’re at home watching TV, give your muscles a break by moving your body during commercials or between episodes of a show.
Optimize Your Work Area
If you work at a desk, optimize your work area to help you improve your posture. Adjust your chair so that you’re sitting at the correct height. When bent at a right angle, your knees should be the same height as your hips. It may be helpful to place a lumbar cushion or a rolled towel behind your back so your spine stays in its natural alignment. If possible, use a height-adjustable standing desk as it can also help improve your posture.
Stand Up Taller
It sounds simple, but standing up taller can help improve your posture. Imagine yourself standing against a wall and then try and keep your shoulders back. Hold your head level and pull in your stomach. Make sure your knees are straight and your hips aren’t sticking out. Taking the time to practice good posture can help this alignment feel more natural over time.
Stop Looking Down at Your Phone
These days, many people are guilty of tilting their heads to check their phones. Instead of looking down to check your text messages or social media notifications, lift your phone up so that it’s level with your eyes. Over time, this action can help reduce the strain on your spine, leading to better posture.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
Some shoes, including high heels, can alter your balance and put more stress on your nerves and muscles. Instead, opt for comfortable shoes with low or chunky heels. Practical footwear can help you relieve back pain and improve your posture.
Regular movement and exercise can help you develop good posture. While all types of exercise can be helpful for your posture, try to incorporate exercises that work to strengthen your core and tighten your abdominal muscles. Non-impact exercises, such as yoga or tai chi, can also be helpful because they train you to be aware of your body.
Do You Have Back Pain? Schedule an Appointment With Dr. Lyn Ward
If you have neck or back pain, it may be related to your posture, or it may be due to other common issues. Make an appointment to see Dr. Lyn Ward at Orthopedic Specialists of North Texas, which serves Dallas-Fort Worth and the surrounding area. Dr. Ward and the other orthopedic specialists have extensive experience in joint pain and muscle issues, including sports medicine and general orthopedics. They can diagnose the reason for your pain and provide you with effective treatment options. Contact us today to make an appointment or request more information.
Good Posture Bad Posture by David B. Gleason is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0