Were you ever told to ‘stand up straight’ when you were a child? For many of us, this refrain was a common one. The aim behind it is to maintain proper posture, but is that really an important goal to achieve?
The truth is that good posture impacts a variety of different areas of your life and can have a significant impact on your health. Let’s take a look at why posture matters and how you can improve your own.
Why does posture matter?
Posture references the way that your body is aligned and positioned and how gravity impacts it. We don’t often think about it, but gravity exerts force on our muscles, joints, and ligaments. In order to help ensure your body is under the least amount of stress possible, it’s important to keep your body optimally aligned.
Your posture is the main way that you do this while standing, sitting, and lying, and it has a big impact on your balance. Your balance, in turn, affects how efficiently you move and can improve or decrease your ability to dance or play sports.
There are a few ways to help improve posture as you stand. The most important is to practise mindfulness about how you’re standing. It’s important to keep your shoulders even, your chin parallel to the floor, your spine neutral, and your hips and knees balanced, even, and pointing ahead. Don’t overarch your back or slouch and allow your shoulders to roll forward. Take the time to look in a mirror and perfect your stance.
Once you understand how proper posture should look and feel, be mindful about the way you’re moving through your day and correct as needed.
Sitting tends to be the main area where we allow bad posture to run rampant. The same basic rules from standing posture are true with sitting posture. Don’t lean forward or backward – keep your spine straight and your shoulders back. Keep your knees at even heights and face them forward. Try not to brace yourself on your desk or chair, either, and instead use your abdominal muscles to keep your body upright. Pay attention to the position of your head, too, and make sure you keep your chin as parallel to the floor as possible.
The longer you sit, the more likely you are to fall into improper posture so, if possible, get up and move around every hour or so.
While sitting posture is where most of us fall short, sleeping posture is probably the hardest to correct. If you ever wake up with back or joint pain, for example, then it’s possible your sleeping posture is throwing off your spine alignment and placing pressure on certain parts of your body.
We tend to rely on our mattresses to keep us supported while we sleep. If yours is old or if the firmness is too hard or too soft, it might not be adequately supporting you as you rest. A new mattress that is designed to optimise spinal alignment could help. Do your research so you know what to look for.