The Health Benefits of Good Posture
How often do you check your posture?
Has it worsened over time?
Do you spend a lot of time at a computer or desk?
Do you want to be healthier, happier (and maybe even a bit slimmer)?
Firstly, let’s look at the health benefits of good posture.
Good digestion is an absolute foundation for good health, and for many people, is the first thing that can go haywire when health deteriorates. Keeping your rib cage in a good position, free and open means your digestion can work that bit easier.
Whilst it might take a bit of effort initially to improve your posture, it will certainly help your breathing. Shallow breathing is very common in those suffering health issues. As your posture improves, your muscles relax, and the respiration system can improve; this can have so many knock of effects for your health and wellbeing. Just sitting straight and breathing deeply and effectively can work wonders – give it a try!
Prevent Bad Backs
Back problems are extremely common, and for some, unbelievably painful and debilitating. Good posture is absolutely vital if you have any issues whatsoever with back pain whether these are little twinges, or more regular and severe.
Tension is commonplace, and so many of us get so used to carrying tension in our bodies it becomes normal. But if your shoulders and upper back are tight, you can be sure there is some level of tension there. Of course you need to address the underlying issues, but working on your posture is simple, and easy to implement.
Muscle Tone and Slimming
As we age, muscle slowly but surely loses tone and function. This is often a key factor in the so called “middle aged spread”. From around 35 onwards, most people lose enough muscle yearly to account for 2 - 4 lbs of fat gained. So good muscle tone is extremely important. It helps with overall health and energy levels by helping your muscles to work efficiently and is definitely “anti-aging”! And for those who want to slim, working on posture can really help. Over time, the belly area can be the first to start heading in the wrong direction. Working on your posture consciously until it becomes normal and natural to carry yourself well, can make a huge contribution to your stomach and back muscles, and this will really help if you need to slim.
Studies have shown evidence of good posture improving both concentration and mental performance. One frequently referenced study found this to be the case more for men than women. We feel this must have been a poorly controlled study, as it is clear that if we are more relaxed, free of tension, breathing better, and digesting better, both sexes will perform better – it doesn’t really take a study to know this! And many would argue that good posture improves confidence, this is a more subjective matter, but it may well be the case for many people. Certainly, when confidence is low, we don’t tend to stand tall.
What Exactly is Good Posture?
If you have serious back problems, or struggle with any of these concepts, then we would recommend you consult with a back care professional such as an osteopath, chiropractor or Alexander Technique practitioner.
Good posture doesn’t mean your body needs to be stiff and completely straight, and the old test given to young ladies of carrying books on the head may be going a little too far! You want to have relaxation but healthy resistance through your body. What you are really looking for is a neutral spine with natural hollows in the lower back, middle back and the base of the neck, and a line running from ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and finally to your ankles. Simply raising your awareness on this issue can really help.
Try standing against a wall with your head, shoulders and bottom touching, and your feet a few inches out if you need to check your position. Adjust, and then check again.
- Lengthen your body naturally (without forcing)
- Check you are not collapsing at the stomach or arching your back
- Relax your chin and jaw (it is common to hold tension here) check your chin is level and not jutting out
- Relax your knees – flex a few times to check you’re not locking the knees
- Open and relax your chest and shoulders
- Relax your arms naturally; give your shoulders a shake if you need to!
- Look to be slightly weighted to the balls of your feet not the heels
And then all you need to do is maintain this! Sounds easy, but initially it may take a little work to create the right muscle memory.
This can often be a little trickier to achieve, and office based jobs are often responsible for poor posture.
- Rest feet evenly flat on the floor
- You want your hips and knees pretty much at 90 degrees
- Align your ears, shoulders and hips
- Distribute weight evenly; check if you are sitting one sided
- Stretch through the stomach and chest without forcing
- Breathe and relax
- Maintain the natural hollow in your back – (To test this lift as much and as straight as you can, you will feel this is too far, relax naturally allowing your lower back to flex slightly).
- Picture a string lifting and holding your chest upwards to feel the lift through your body
- Or what about imagining a balloon lifting you gently through your body – fun but effective!
- And finally, lift your shoulders, and STOP slouching!
To start with, this can be hard work. Try to maintain for ten minutes at a time, then relax, and perhaps even have a walk around. It may take several days to start getting those muscles working properly, but the benefits are huge.
But whether standing or sitting, don’t overwork these concepts, posture needs to be natural and have flow, so don’t push yourself to be overly stiff. Your spine needs to flex and move not lock into position. Go slowly but surely, and over time you will see posture improvement without it being forced and counter productive. And enjoy the process; this is a really simple way to improve your health and vitality!
More Ideas to Help You
If you are at a desk or computer all day, it can be very easy to slowly but surely through the day, and over time, slump into a poor position. It is also worth noting that if you are worried about your weight, sitting still for long periods of time shuts down fat burning enzymes. So, getting up hourly, at the very least for a minute to stretch and free up your muscles, and stroll round the office can really help your posture, your whole body, and your mind too!
Try a Gym Ball
There are lots of ergonomically designed chairs available for backs and posture, some are very expensive, but if you have serious back issues, may well be worth the investment. But one of the easiest, cheapest ideas is to sit at a gym ball if you are office / computer based. Rather than your muscles getting locked into one position, they have to work a little harder but without overdoing it. And not only can you easily work on your posture, but you can incorporate gentle movement through your working day which reaps its own benefits.
Try a Bit of String!
If you are falling into old habits, tie a bit of string from a top button hole to your belt. If it isn’t taut, you know you have collapsed through your body.
Being fit and healthy will directly impact on your posture. Yoga and Tai Chi would be highly recommended for this particular aspect of body awareness.
Relaxing will help your posture by eliminating overall tension, so make time for yourself to fully relax your body. This might be gentle swimming, or a massage, just do whatever it takes to look after your mind and body!
We hope this has been interesting and helpful for you on your healing journey. If you want better health and youthful energy every day, do have a look at our range of 100% natural and additive free health supplements - any questions - please get in touch!