The Importance of Good Posture

By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai

Good posture is about more than standing up straight so you can look your best. It is an important part of your long-term health. Making sure that you hold your body the right way, whether you are moving or still, can prevent pain, injuries, and other health problems.

What is posture?

Posture is a term used to describe a position of the body or the arrangements of body parts relative to one another. Ideal postures are those assumed to perform an activity in the most efficient manner utilizing the least amount of energy.

  • Dynamic posture- is how you hold yourself when you are moving, like when you are walking, running, or bending over to pick up something. It is usually required to form an efficient basis for movement. Muscles and non-contractile structures have to work to adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Static posture- is how you hold yourself when you are not moving, like when you are sitting, standing, or sleeping. Body segments are aligned and maintained in fixed positions. This is usually achieved by co-ordination and interaction of various muscle groups which are working statically to counteract gravity and other forces.

It is important to make sure that you have good dynamic and static posture.

All activity begins with a posture and ends with a posture. The relationships between body parts can be controlled voluntarily but to do this would require too much concentration. During normal functioning one’s postures and adjustments to postures are automatic and occur quickly. [1]

Your spine consists of three natural curvatures that need to be aligned correctly so that your weight is evenly distributed over both of your feet.

The three curves include:

  • Cervical curve – this is the curve in your neck that has a slight forward curve.
  • Thoracic curve – this is the curve in your upper and mid back that has a slight backwards curve.
  • Lumbar curve – this is the curve in your lower back that has a slight forward curve.

Good posture involves having your ear, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle aligned vertically from the side. In many cases, you’ll need to train your body to maintain good posture so that the least amount of strain is placed on the joints, muscles, and ligaments of your body.

Health Benefits of Good Posture

Maintaining proper posture has many benefits including: [2] [3] [4]

Prevent strain on your body- If your back is not in alignment it will place stress and strain on other places, and that strain has an impact on the function of your nerves and the signals they send to your entire body. When you practice good posture you are helping your nerves to function optimally and reducing the strain put on other parts of your body by things not quite lining up as they should.

It makes you look good– It’s not vain to want to look your best, and good posture will help you to look better too! When you stand tall and straight you not only look better, you also look more confident to the world. Next time you go in for a big job interview or a give a presentation at work, practicing good posture will give other people a good impression of you and probably help you to feel better too.

It’s good for relieving back pain- When you practice good posture you are putting less strain on your joints. When the pressure is taken off it can make a world of difference for joint pain, including back pain. Poor posture can often inflame arthritis if you have it and cause abnormal wear and tear of the joints – so good posture is good for you now and in the future, helping to prevent any ill effects of arthritis or even curbing the development of it!

It builds strong muscles and ligaments- If you sit in a posture that isn’t natural for your body your muscles don’t do the work they should be doing. Some may not be utilized to their fullest extent while others might be utilized too much, causing muscle imbalances that can lead to pain. Your ligaments also benefit from good posture because they don’t have to work as hard to hold joints together in an improper alignment.

Negative Health Effects of Poor Posture

There are a variety of factors involved in poor posture, with the most common factors being obesity, pregnancy, stress, and weak and/or tight muscles. Poor posture has a variety of negative health consequences, including: [4]

  • Creating muscle imbalances in the body.
  • Accelerating wear and tear on your spine, making you more susceptible to injury.
  • Increasing the risk of neck, shoulder, and back pain.
  • Decreasing flexibility of the body.
  • Interfering with your balance, increasing your risk of falling.
  • Impairing digestion of food.
  • Impairing breathing.

Tips for Improving Posture

There are a variety of things you can do to improve your posture, including: [5] [6]

  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Stand up tall. You’ll feel better and look better slimmer, even. Pretend you’re standing against a wall to measure your height. Hold your head straight and tuck in your chin. Your ears should be over the middle of your shoulders. Stand with your shoulders back, knees straight, and belly tucked in. Don’t let your booty or hips stick out. Straighten up so you feel like your head stretches toward the sky.
  • Sit all the way back in your chair. Place a small, rolled-up towel or lumbar cushion behind your mid-back to protect your spine’s natural curve. Bend your knees at a right angle and keep them the same height, or a bit higher, than your hips. Place your feet flat on the floor.
  • Beware of ‘Text Neck’- On your smartphone all day long. Take a minute to stretch your neck. When you tilt your head down to check messages it really strains your spine. Over the course of a day or year that can add up. For a better view, lift the phone up and move your eyes, not your head.
  • Sky-high shoes also put more weight on your knees. Choose a lower, chunky heel for daily wear.
  • Skip the soft, saggy mattress. Choose a firm one that helps hold your spine’s natural shape. Side sleeper- Bend your knees slightly but don’t hug them. Place a pillow under your head so it’s level with your spine. Back sleepers should ditch the thick pillow and opt for a small one under the neck.
  • Too many pounds around your belly puts added stress on your back. You need strong muscles to support your spine. A well-designed workout plan will keep your body and spine in tip-top shape. And that’s important. Engaging in regular physical activity that focuses on balance exercises as well as stretching and strengthening for your core muscles.
  • Adjust your computer monitor to help with your posture. If you work on computers at an office, angle the monitor slightly upward so that it forces you to sit up. However, don’t set it so high that you push your chin out to see it
  • Take standing breaks when you’re sitting for long periods. Even if you’re using perfect posture while sitting, you need to stand up and stretch or walk every hour or so. Just walking around the room or getting out of your car for a few minutes can help.

Small changes you start right now can lead to great gains in the long run. Try some of these simple techniques, and you’re closer to a healthier.

References:-

  1. https://www.stretching-exercises-guide.com/what-is-posture.html
  2. https://www.h-wave.com/blog/why-good-posture-matters-and-bad-posture-can-hurt-your-health/
  3. https://www.thejoint.com/california/mission-viejo/mission-viejo-31163/190480-why-you-should-improve-your-posture
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/posture-benefits
  5. https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/ss/slideshow-posture-tips
  6. https://www.wikihow.com/Improve-Your-Posture
  7. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Posture

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