How many times did you slouch and your parents remind you to sit up straight? Many a time, right? Yes, it was annoying. You probably didn’t know why it was such a big deal as a child. But, as you grow up, you realize that good posture has many advantages.
Having a good posture is essential, especially when it comes to your health. Here we’ll take a closer look at all those benefits of having good posture, what good posture is, and what you can do to improve yours. Let’s get started!
What Is a Good Posture?
Posture is your body’s position when you lie down, sit, or stand, using muscle tension to support yourself. Great, but what is good posture? With a good posture, your ears align evenly with the shoulders back, and you’re in a relaxed position.
In turn, this helps to align the spine. Your spine comprises the three curves found at your neck, the middle of the back, and your lower back. When you have a proper posture, it helps maintain these curves naturally. Posture happens naturally without you thinking about it.
Your postural muscles provide good posture to prevent gravity from working against you. In addition, muscle groups give you balance when walking or moving. Hence, having a good posture helps you with your activities to prevent muscle strain throughout the day.
We can break it up further as there are two dynamic and static postures. Your static posture is the position you maintain when not moving, like standing, sitting, or sleeping. The opposite happens when you have a dynamic posture as you are moving, like walking, running, or stretching.
What Affects a Good Posture?
One is slouching, and sometimes it is a bad habit, but there can be physical reasons contributing to poor posture. These can result from tight muscles or a smaller range of motion, making it challenging to position body parts correctly.
Other contributors can be your core muscles or the strength of your legs, leading to how you carry yourself. These muscles include your abdomen, back, pelvis, buttocks, and sides. These muscles connect to the bottom and top half of the body.
With weak core muscles, you end up moving your top part of the body more forward than the bottom half ending up looking slumped. Even the modern lifestyle of today contributes to poor posture. For example, you look at your computer for several hours a day without changing your position.
On the other hand, you keep looking down at the phone without changing position. As a result, you end up slumped forward doing activities instead of standing or sitting up straight.
Benefits of Good Posture
Good posture is not only about being more comfortable but helps improve your health and well-being. When you are mindful of your posture, it allows you to make corrections when needed to achieve proper posture to reap the following benefits.
Improves Athletic Performance
The fact is that your posture does not only affect you when you sit or stand. Your posture can also affect you when working out. For example, good posture helps you have an engaged core with a neutral spine when doing squats to help prevent hurting yourself.
Having a slouched position when trying to exercise will make it harder for you to stay balanced and also take in oxygen. Whatever type of sport or exercise you’re going for, you’ll find it easier when you have a good posture.
This is also vital in weight lifting, even with fairly light weights. Trying to lift anything with a bad posture can put incredible pressure on your back and cause serious injury. You’ll always need to keep your back as straight as possible whatever you’re doing.
Decreases Back and Joint Pain
Sitting in front of our computers looking at the screen with a forward head posture puts strain on your neck, upper back, and shoulders. However, when you align your body correctly, your joints and ligaments have less stress and do not result in chronic overuse.
Even sitting or standing slouched for a long time or sitting/standing crooked puts pressure on your lower back and hip. Therefore, when your body is uneven, you feel more issues and pain. With a good posture, you do not feel pain.
This isn’t just a short-term issue either. If you are sitting in front of a computer for many hours a day, any bad posture can add pressure that can strain your joints over time. Changing your posture can feel odd initially, but it’s worth it to protect yourself in the long term.
Improves Lung Capacity
Poor posture negatively affects your breathing to fill your lungs. For example, when you slouch, it shortens the muscles at the front of the body. As a result, it reduces the ability to breathe air fully. Hence, you are compressing your lungs. On the other hand, when you sit or stand taller, your lungs have more space to expand to bring in more oxygen.
It seems obvious when you think about it, but your lungs are fighting against your body when you have poor posture. Just think about when you’re exercising, and you’re struggling for breath. You’ll always lean back and puff out your chest. You need to be in a similar position all the time.
Whether you sit or stand, dropping your head while dropping the shoulders creates tension and leads to headaches. Likewise, if you have a posture with a forward head, you get more long-lasting headaches. The reason is that it increases tension in the muscles in the back of your neck. You can reduce the pressure to lessen headaches when you correct your posture.
Many people blame other factors for their headaches, such as stress or light sensitivity. Headaches can be very hard to diagnose, so if you suffer from them, correct your posture and see if it helps. There’s a good chance you’ll benefit from this lack of tension.
Assists the Anti-Ageing Process
Posture can affect your body as you age. When you stand with a poor posture, it results in stress on your joints. The joints become painful and stiff. When you maintain a good posture during your lifetime, you are more mobile as you age and look younger.
You may see many older people who seemingly have a permanent slouch. This can be from the lack of good posture over their lifetime. If you want to be fit and agile in your 70s and 80s, you need to start working on your posture today.
Kyphosis is an excessive outward curvature of your spine and causes a hunched back. There are a few causes of it, such as abnormally shaped vertebrae, abnormal development of the spine, or even spinal injury. While these can lead to kyphosis, one of the biggest causes is poor posture.
You can prevent kyphosis when you maintain a good posture by being aware of sitting or standing. The condition often doesn’t have symptoms, but it can cause back pain and tiredness. For most people, their concern is embarrassment about how they look.
Thankfully you can prevent this condition by avoiding slouching, sitting correctly, and avoiding constantly carrying heavy bags. This can be especially important for schoolchildren and heavy backpacks with poor support. Regular exercise such as running, swimming, and yoga can also prevent kyphosis.
Provides Better Digestion
Having a good posture helps with digestion as a slouched posture hinders normal gastrointestinal system activities leading to digestive distress like GERD or constipation. In addition, a good posture aligns your internal organs, leaving less compression on your liver, intestines, and stomach. In turn, this allows the free flow of your food and digestive juices.
As with headaches, poor digestion can be attributed to many factors, making diagnosis difficult. If you make these changes, then there is a good chance that your digestion issues may improve.
As with your digestive system, when you compress your vital organs, the body’s circulation is poor, and your organs do not work well. For example, crossing your legs cramps the blood flow, leading to poor blood circulation.
Therefore, to avoid this from happening, a proper posture provides the correct alignment of the organs. If you find that your extremities are often cold, then it may be down to your posture.
Improves Core Strength
To constantly be in the correct position, you need your postural muscles to work correctly. With good posture, your core muscles are going to be more efficient. There are many advantages you’ll have from having better core strength.
One of the most obvious is that it improves your balance. Good core strength will also make you better at running, better protects your internal organs, it’ll help you to be more powerful, and it’s vital when you’re older to keep you mobile.
If you find that staying in the correct posture is difficult, do exercises to improve your core strength. This will get you into a very healthy cycle as having the right posture will further increase your core strength so you can get all these benefits.
Improves Mental Wellbeing
With good posture, your muscles need don’t need to work as hard as when slouched. This means you are not using as much energy. With good posture, you are not wasting energy as you use your muscles efficiently, providing you with boosted energy.
Furthermore, it also helps improve the flow of oxygen that affects your brain. The more nutrients your brain neurons receive, the more your brain appreciates the increased circulation. When the neurons become nurtured, it keeps you sharp to concentrate.
This, in turn, leads to a good mood as you sit and stand up straight without the depressed look when looking slouched with slumped shoulders and the head hanging down. Instead, you feel relaxed and happy with an open upright posture leading to improved mental well-being.
A Flatter Stomach
Did you know that a good posture could make you look ten pounds thinner? Yes, it can, as poor posture creates a thicker potbelly look. Standing or sitting tall lengthens your body frame, distributing the weight to make you look slender.
Not only will you look lean, but also others will notice you, and you will come over self-assured and poised, leading to more confidence. If you look at the most confident people, they usually have great postures.
How to Have a Good Posture?
As you can see, good posture has loads of advantages for your health and is not only about sitting or standing straight. It is part of your long-term health to make sure you hold your body the correct way.
There are many ways you can improve your posture. Here we’ll look at some basic tips to have better posture before looking at exercises you can do.
Improvements for a Good Posture in General
- Always be mindful of your posture during your activities like washing dishes, walking, or watching TV
- Remain active doing exercises to improve your posture, as some can be helpful. These include tai chi, yoga, or other workout classes that help focus on your body awareness. In addition, you can do exercises to strengthen your core muscles around the abdomen, back, and pelvis
- Try to maintain a healthy weight as extra weight weakens the abdominal muscles. This results in problems around the pelvis and spine, leading to lower back pain and hurting your posture
- Work at a comfortable height when sitting in front of your desk, making food, or eating dinner. If you find you are slouching to do daily tasks, then reorganize your workspace
- Wear comfortable shoes as high heels throw you off balance putting stress on your muscles
Improvements for a Good Posture When Sitting
- As you spend a lot of time in front of a desk sitting at school, home or work, try to switch positions often
- Take breaks from what you are doing by walking around the home or office
- Every so often, stretch your muscles to help relieve tension
- The best is to keep your feet, ankles, and knees in front of you on the floor and not cross your legs
- If your feet cannot touch the floor when sitting, use a footrest
- Keep your elbows close to your body with your shoulders relaxed and your back fully supported
- Ensure your hips and thighs are supported on a well-padded seat and parallel to the floor
- If you find yourself slouched over a best, then either use an adjustable chair to put you into the correct position or use another desk that is the right height.
Improvements for a Good Posture When Standing
- Always stand with the shoulders back and upright with the back. Try and keep your ears in line with your shoulders at all times
- Pull in your stomach and place most of your weight on the balls of your feet
- Keep your head level and let your hands hang down your sides naturally
- Lastly, keep your feet at shoulder-width apart
You can develop a good posture to look good and feel great when practising these improvements. Alternatively, you can do the following exercises to help build a proper posture.
Good Posture Exercises
For improving your posture, you can do a few exercises:
#1 Reduce Lower Back Pain by Doing Bridges
- Bridges help strengthen your abdominal and gluteal muscles as your body will rely on them instead of your lower back
- Lie on the floor on the back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground
- Now, tighten your core but do not change your back position
- Lift your hips while lowering your torso off the ground and contract your gluteus maximus muscles
- Next, slowly lower the hips to the ground
- When you stretch your core, upper back, and chest muscles, you will notice a pain reduction in your lower back
#2 Lessen Headaches Stretching Your Neck Muscles Using Head Retraction
- Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat
- Now, pull your chin back towards the floor, trying to make a double chin
- Hold the position for 15 seconds and repeat the steps ten times
- The exercise helps strengthen your neck muscles that are often stretched out and weak
#3 Increase Your Energy Levels by Twisting Your Torso to Strengthen Your Side Abs
- Sit comfortably with your knees bent on the floor
- Lift your feet about six inches off the floor
- Next, tighten the core while rotating your upper body and elbows from side to side
#4 Lessen Tension in the Neck and Shoulders with a Neck Stretch
- Stand with your spine and neck straight in front of a mirror
- Tuck your chin slightly backward to feel a slight tension of the clavicle muscles and the lengthening of your posterior part of the neck
- Hold the position for three seconds and repeat 15 repetitions
#5 Strengthen Core and Lower Back Muscles with a Hip Flexor Stretch
- Start with a lunge position with one knee on the floor and extend your leg backwards
- Keep your opposite leg at a 90° angle in front of you with your foot planted on the floor
- Next, engage your core by pulling up slightly and repeating using the opposite leg by placing its knee on the floor
#6 Increase Your Lung Capacity
- Stand with the feet placed at a hip-width distance
- Interlock the hands by placing them behind your back
- Hold the position for 20 seconds to help stretch your chest and pectoral muscles
Alternatively, you can place your forearms at shoulder height along with a door frame. Then, put one foot in front of another and shift your weight forward to feel your chest stretching and hold for 60 seconds.
#7 Become More Self-Confident
- You can stand or sit with a neutral spine
- Next, shift your shoulder blades to your back
- Now, lift up both your arms to a 90° angle at your sides
- Next, pull your shoulder blades together as if squeezing them, still keeping your arms extended backwards naturally
- Do three sets of 12 reps
#8 Look Taller With Forearm Plank Exercises
- Lie front side down on the floor and keep your forearms parallel with your feet at hip-width apart.
- Tighten your core muscles and lift up your torso off the floor.
- Look down between the elbows and keep your shoulder blades pulled back with the core tight. Do not stick your hips out in the air.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds, but you can stop sooner if it starts to decline. Repeat three sets of these exercises.
#9 Improve Your Core and Scapular Strength
- Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground with even weight distribution on both your hips
- Slightly tuck in your core and flatten your lower back
- Relax your arms to the sides and raise them up simultaneously over the head
- Now, bring your arms back to your starting position
#10 Improve Your Circulation and Digestion
- Lie on the floor on your back and place a foam roller underneath your rib cage in a horizontal position
- Place your arms underneath your neck to support it
- Gradually extend your spine over the foam roller and hold it for five seconds. Then, take a deep breath and move up slowly, two inches at a time
What is good for your posture?
A good posture is when you sit or stand straight and do not look slouched with a bent back, and your shoulders are hanging down. In addition, standing or sitting up straight relieves muscle tension, making you look taller.
What are the advantages of upright posture?
An upright posture helps you breathe deeper and increases your oxygen flow to the brain. Hence, you can stay focused as it gives you mental clarity to deal with daily tasks. Furthermore, you will become more confident looking taller, and it helps boost your health and well-being.