I often hear concerns from people regarding posture and their beliefs regarding spine health. So here’s an analogy I like to use when discussing this topic – Imagine holding your finger in an extended position for 30 minutes. After you relax the finger, do you think your finger will be comfortable? Yes. Did you harm your finger in any way due to holding it extended for 30 minutes? No. The same principle can be applied to your posture and spine.
Is It Really That Bad?
No position is inherently bad, but when we hold a position for sustained periods of time, that’s when we can start experiencing symptoms of pain and discomfort. The best posture is often the next posture. There is no universally accepted posture that people should strive for. Instead, avoid fatigue from staying in a position for long and remember to keep moving, even if it’s a little bit.
1. Should We Bother About Good Posture?
The thing is, your body structures are kept in place by the fascial sheath, which surrounds and connects all the muscles and joints. If fascial layers don’t slide freely against and across each other, it restricts the function of anything enclosed within them, which is the muscles and joints. As a result, no matter how hard you try to fix your body position or pattern of movement, you’ll only be able to do so for a limited period of time.
To fix that, we need to adopt an integrated approach, working with not only all of the body components (muscle/joints/connective tissues) but the mind as well.
Some of them can include:
- Body/mind connection
- Body awareness and exploration
- Building new sensory memories
If everything else you’ve tried to improve your posture or movement pattern hasn’t worked, adding in the missing link of mind training will do the trick. In the future, I’ll definitely be sharing some mind/body strategies I use to realign my own body. So, make sure to stick around for more.
1.1 Benefits of Good Posture
How is your posture while reading this article? If you’re like most people who sit for long hours behind a desk, it’s bound to be slightly hunched over. Developing a strong posture can help you become more productive, among other things. In fact, Good posture is important to your overall health and offers a variety of benefits including:
- Fewer Headaches
- Reduced Lower Back Pain
- Increased energy levels
- Less tension in your shoulders and neck
- Decreased risk of abnormal wearing of the joint surfaces
- Increased lung capacity
- Improved circulation and digestion
- Reduced TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain
- Improved core and scapular strength
- Better form during your workouts
- Appear taller
- Increased self-confidence
1.2 Great Posture in Every Position
“I’ve been told I have bad posture” is a sentence I often hear and subsequently get asked how to fix. Well contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a perfect posture. There are certain alignments that allow our bones, muscles, and soft tissue to function optimally, and naturally, different structures will be under more stress in different positions.
However, there is not a universally accepted posture that people should strive for as everyone’s anatomy is different. In addition, our body is extremely resilient and able to adapt to added stressors. Instead of finding what the perfect posture is, avoiding prolonged positions of rest is the best approach. Move often and add variety to your movements. Stand up, walk to another room, change your spot on the couch and take breaks.
2. What Causes Bad Posture?
If you sit in a slouched position frequently enough then you will be more susceptible to neck pain, headaches, TMJ, mid-back discomfort, and the list goes on. That’s the bad news.
But here is the good news. You can be proactive and break up your day by introducing variable spinal movement patterns to decrease pain and/or muscle tension. Can’t overstate this enough…Variability In Movement Is Key.
2.1 Problems Arising From Poor Posture
There are a lot of issues with respect to the poor posture such as:
- Back pain.
- Spinal dysfunction.
- Text-neck due to increased mobile usage.
- Joint degeneration.
- Rounded shoulders.
- Migraines and tension headaches.
- Shoulder, neck and back pain.
- Over-Pronated Feet.
- Anterior Pelvic Tilt
- High blood pressure.
- Heart disease.
- Reduced lung function.
- Stress and anxiety.
- Fatigue or low energy.
- Constipation and gastrointestinal pain.
- Lack of education or awareness of correct posture.
- Sedentary lifestyle.
- Occupational demands.
- Joint stiffness.
- Decreased fitness.
- Muscle weakness.
- Muscle tightness.
- Poor core stability.
2.2 Protect Yourself From The Damage Of Chronic Inflammation
Most of us do not think of posture while at work which may cause chronic back pain over a period of time!
3. Does improving posture help with weight loss?
Yes, Improving your posture can help you lose weight. Ensuring that your postural muscles are working correctly helps your body become increasingly efficient. This includes helping you lose weight and as a result, tone your body. Poor posture is the same as poor skeletal alignment.
3.1 How does posture affect weight?
Whenever you sit upright your muscles get elongated and not let it get slouched. Whenever muscles are slouched, they get tight which affects your weight as it will accumulate lots of fat tissues.
3.2 Does good posture help burn more calories?
Ensuring that your postural muscles are working correctly helps tone your body. Even simply engaging your muscles while at rest can help. And when you don’t, switch, stand up or take a walk.
3.3 How does good posture affect your weight and metabolism?
The body uses fat and water to balance weight, especially on a woman’s body. As a woman leans or slouches forward with her upper body (including head, arms, and breasts), her lower body seeks balance by adding extra pounds of water and fat to the hips and thighs. Proper posture also improves respiration, which improves blood flow and as a result helps in your metabolism.
I would also suggest sitting on a swiss ball and working for 2 hours a day. That helps in engaging your core and also as you can’t sit on the ball too long you will end up getting up more from the ball.
3.4 Exercises to Improve Your Posture
Get into the habit of sitting correctly. It may not feel comfortable initially because your muscles have not been conditioned to support you in the correct position. These exercises work by strengthening your core and buttock muscles, which in turn will help correct a slouching posture.
- Cat cow.
- Back extensions
- Standing cat-cow.
- Chest opener.
- High plank.
- Side plank.
- Downward-facing dog.
3.5 Tips and Precautions for Maintaining Good Posture
- Helps us keep bones and joints in the proper alignment so that our muscles are used correctly.
- Reduces the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together.
- Allows muscles to work more efficiently allowing the body to use less energy.
- Helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and even back and muscular pain.
4. Some General Posture Pointers
The 3 Rules of Posture are simple to learn, but for some, they’re difficult to make habitual. Not only are we training posture muscles, but we’re also training the big “muscle” between the ears…your BRAIN!
Just remember there are huge benefits you’ll get from improving your posture.
Avoid Slouching – Maintain a straight spine rather than slouching to the side. Avoid slouching forward or hyperextending
Chin Up – Keep your chin up with the head centered over the shoulders. Another way to achieve the correct head position for optimal voice: if you were gazing out to the horizon, look about 5 degrees below the horizon, and there’s your chin tuck.
Shoulders, Hips, and Knees – Keep your feet slightly less than shoulder-width apart. Your shoulders should be in a straight line directly over your hip bones. Keep the knees slightly bent.
It’s Worth It –Correcting your posture may feel awkward at first because your body has become so used to sitting and standing in a particular way, but with a bit of practice, good posture will become second nature.
If you have poor posture, you probably already know that just opening your chest and pushing your shoulders back won’t help you for very long.
What does our health expert recommend?
1. There is no such thing as the perfect posture.
2. Bad Posture, however, can be damaging in the long run.
3. Practicing good posture can not only keep you safe from chronic inflammation but also help aid weight loss.