With everything that you have to juggle in a day, your posture may not be something you think about regularly – but perhaps you should.
Proper posture is directly related to overall health. This means more than avoiding a hunched back in later years. When you are properly aligned, your muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons can all work efficiently as nature intended, meaning you’ll be less inclined to suffer from aches and pains.
Standing up straight also allows your internal organs, especially those involved in digestion, to work properly, as they are not being crowded or cramped. Your central nervous system also takes a breath when you stand tall. Rounded, hunched shoulders limit the amount of oxygen entering the lungs.
This lack of air signals to the brain that there is a problem, and places the body into a fight or flight mode. This evolutionary response results in feelings of stress, anxiety and irritability, which over time can lead to a multitude of chronic health conditions.
Strutting your stuff (so to speak) can also be a major confidence booster. When researchers from Ohio State University asked individuals to sit up straight or slouch, the slouchers exhibited far less confidence in their thoughts and ideas versus those who sat up. Walking tall also sends the signal that you are self-assured, a good quality to have when meeting potential employers or clients.
But posture isn’t just about slouching shoulders. Your feet, knees, hips, shoulders and the way your body supports your head (which is equivalent in weight to that of a bowling ball) are all associated with proper posture.
This all-important alignment isn’t cookie-cutter, as each individual has their own unique physiology, gait and bone structure, meaning good posture for one doesn’t necessarily equate to good posture for another.
So how do you improve your posture when the demands of life keep you hunched and slumped? Here are a few tips to get you started on a path to a straighter spine.
1. When working on a computer, be sure you thighs and torso form a 90 degree angle with your feet placed flat on the floor. Never place a laptop on your lap and be sure to keep the keyboard close enough to you so that your arms aren’t reaching.
2. Invest in a hands-free device if you spend a lot of time on the phone. Balancing a phone in between your shoulder and ear places strain on your neck.
3. Avoid lugging over-stuffed purses and bags. If you don’t need it, don’t carry it. If you can’t avoid hauling a heavy load, a backpack will distribute weight more evenly than a shoulder bag, and one you can tote on wheels is your best bet.
4. Invest in a firm mattress and avoid piling on the pillows, which accentuate slouching even though you are at rest.
5. Practice makes perfect. Whether you are at home in the kitchen, working in an office, driving your car or simply relaxing, assess your posture and be sure you aren’t in a slouched position. A few minor adjustments will pay off in the long run, as attaining your ideal posture will soon become second nature.
-The Alternative Daily