Benefits of Good Posture and Tips to Improving Yours
In today’s society, people have become largely sedentary. Many jobs require sitting at a desk in front of a computer for several consecutive hours a day. Even when we are not working, often we will be sitting in front of a TV. According to a survey in 2013, most Americans will sit for an average of 13 hours a day! Combined with an average of 8 hours of sleeping, that leaves only 3 hours of being on your feet!
One of the biggest problems that arise from sitting for 13 hours a day is bad posture. The sitting, coupled with the advent of handheld technology, leads to good posture becoming a rarity. One of the most common forms of bad posture is Forward Head Posture (FHP). In a report from the National Posture Institute in 2012, it was estimated that 80% of Americans have varying degrees of Forward Head Posture.
Having bad posture is a widespread phenomenon, but why is having good posture important? To answer this question, here are several benefits to having good posture. We will also provide some tips to help you improve yours.
What is Good Posture?
Good posture revolves mostly around two body parts: your spine and your hips. Your spine has 3 natural curves. The top is the cervical, the middle is the thoracic, and the lower is the lumbar spine. Good posture for your back means that there is no excessive curvature of any spinal regions. Most posture misalignments come from altering these curves. For example, Kyphosis is the excessive forward rounding of the thoracic spine.
The second part of good posture is the hips (pelvis). With good posture, the hips are neutral, which means you could draw an axis through them (think back to geometry class) and there would be no tilting to the sides, the front or to the back. In Kyphosis, the spinal curvature also results in an anterior (front) pelvic tilt.
Benefits of Good Posture
Having good posture is like having the tires on your car properly aligned. For a car, when the tires are aligned, everything functions perfectly and efficiently. When they are out of alignment, there is excessive wear, difficulty controlling the car, and increased risk of accidents. Your body is no different. There are many benefits of having good posture here are just a few them.
1. Having Good Posture Reduces Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain and bad posture go hand in hand. This condition is so widespread it’s almost unbelievable. A study in 2012 reported that 70% of Americans experience lower back pain!
Lower back pain comes from two sources. The first is too much compression on the lumbar spine. Remember, the lumbar spine is the lower spinal region. Having this area bear too much weight will result in compressing and irritating the vertebrae. The second source is from muscle strain. In many postural misalignments, the back and hips are out of place, which pulls muscles and ligaments with them. When these muscles try to keep everything in place, they become fatigued and can be strained. This phenomenon is known as compensation.
Having good posture will reduce compression on the lower spine and reduce the fatigue of the stabilizer muscles in the back and pelvic area.
2.Having Good Posture Decreases Wear on Joints
Your posture provides the foundation for all movements. Having altered posture will result in altered movement patterns, which can cause problems. When your posture is changed, the body’s biomechanics also change, which also alters stress on your joints and muscles. In a report from Dynamic Chiropractic Canada, Doctors found evidence that altered body posture results in detrimental wear on joints and bones.
In cases of Anterior Pelvic Tilt, the tilting tightens hip flexor muscles, which also lengthens the abdominal muscles. This alters front leg muscle response and core stability. Anterior Pelvic Tilt is extremely common among those with occupations that require them to be bent over continuously. Such jobs include farming and desk jobs.
Having good posture will reduce this excess wear on your joints and muscles. This will also reduce musculoskeletal and joint pain. In today’s society, with so many jobs requiring sitting for long periods of time, this can be difficult. However, the benefits are definitely worth it.
3. Having Good Posture Will Improve Your Looks
Everybody at some point has seen a poster for an action or superhero movie. On that poster, does the main character have bent over shoulders and a jutting out stomach? Of course not! They are standing tall and erect with their shoulders back and chest out.
One of the reasons that these famous actors and actresses look so good is because of their posture. Naturally, being insanely rich and having an army of trainers and chefs helps, but it all starts with their posture. Having good posture, according to research, makes you look taller, slimmer, and more attractive.
An article posted in WebMD discusses a study done at the University of Louisville that proves this point. In this study, they took 60 women and had observers view them while standing. Some cases, the women were slouched. And others, they were standing straight. Participants consistently stated that the standing straight women were more attractive. If perception equals reality, then this is a surefire way to alter people’s perception of you.
4. Having Good Posture Will Improve Your Confidence
This benefit naturally follows from improving your looks. Having good posture conveys an air of confidence and ability. To illustrate this point, picture two teenage boys sitting in a classroom. One is leaning over his desk, shoulders rolled forward, and his eyes are glazed over. The second is sitting up straight, his shoulders are straight, and his eyes are alert. Which boy would you say is paying attention? Which boy would you say has a future ahead of him?
Another good example is to use a job interview. It is said that most interviews are decided in that first 15 seconds of an interview. If you have 15 seconds to make an impression, would you ruin it by slumping forward or slouching in your chair? Of course not! You would walk into that office straight and tall like you know that job was yours. That is what good posture can do for your confidence.
How to Improve Your Posture
So you know that good posture is important. You also know that yours probably needs some work. The question is how do you fix it? Well, in today’s society there are many answers to this question. Here are just a few of them.
Visit a Chiropractor
A quick fix that will definitely be beneficial is to visit a chiropractor. For those of you who don’t know, a chiropractor is a doctor that specializes in the hands-on manipulation of body structures. Most chiropractic work focuses on spinal manipulation and other treatments.
Visiting a chiropractor can be especially beneficial if you have lower back pain. As previously stated, back pain often comes from compression of the lumbar spine. Having a chiropractor adjust your spine so that this is no longer happening goes a long way towards reducing back pain.
Corrective and Strength Exercises
While chiropractors are a good short-term fix, without other measures, the problem does not get better. One of the best long-term things you can do to help your posture is exercise.
Your body has a very finely balanced system of muscles that keep everything in place. When that balance is upset, the result is often pain and injury. Targeting certain muscle groups in your workout routine will greatly improve your posture. These areas include your back, neck, rear shoulders, glutes, and hips.
One of the biggest components of using exercise to correct these areas is flexibility. If you have anterior pelvic tilt, then your hip flexor muscles are tight. Consequently, you will need to incorporate stretching into your routines to fix this.
Before you begin any exercise routine, the best thing to do is consult with a doctor and a certified trainer. The doctor can assess what your specific diagnosis is. The trainer can then take that information, run his or her own assessments, and create a program for you that will benefit you the most.
A third option on the path to good posture is with technology. Over the years, there have been several devices invented to help correct or maintain a certain posture. While some are reserved for hospital patients, others are on the open market for purchase today. Here are just a few of them:
This device is a brace that goes around your clavicle (shoulders) to help correct rolled shoulders. The idea is that you put around your shoulders, tighten it until your shoulder is position is optimal, and go on about your day. This device is designed to be worn for long periods of time at work, at the gym, or around the house.
The best feature of this device is that it is unobtrusive. The design is slim enough and comfortable enough to wear under a shirt. Also, since it is discreet, nobody would even know you were wearing it.
It’s 2018, there’s an app for everything. Now, there’s an app for improving your posture. The Lumo Lift is a virtual coach that uses a tiny sensor that you wear that sends data to your phone. This app will track how long you maintain good posture, and when you start to have bad posture. If this happens, your device and/or your phone will start to vibrate to alert you to fix your stance.
The benefits of this technology are numerous. The device is small enough to clip on to your shirt and let you forget it’s there unless it alerts you. Also, the app has a progress tracker so you have another way to see if your posture is changing.
If your job requires you to remain seated for most of the day, then it is crucial for your lower back to have support. This ingenious device is a portable lumbar spine device. While only some computer chairs offer lumbar spine support, the BetterBack gives support no matter what you’re sitting on.
Considerations For Posture Improvement
With any method of treatment, it is important to consider what will fix the issue permanently. All of the mentioned treatment options do have validity and will have good effects on your posture. However, it is important to think about what will work in the long term. For example, using the BetterBack or another ergonomic support device will reduce strain on the lower back. However, exercise and flexibility training will strengthen the stabilizer muscles which keep the back aligned.
Conclusion: Stand Up for Yourself
If you experience lower back pain constantly and you’ve had enough, don’t wait to make a change. Take steps to improve your posture today. You won’t regret it. This article covered a lot of information, and hopefully, you found some helpful tips and insights. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.