When you stop being a slouch about your posture, you could benefit from better health. Standing up straight is commonly emphasized for reasons of appearance, but the benefits are not purely cosmetic. The Kansas Chiropractic Foundation lists a litany of general problems caused by poor posture. It turns out that slumped position is affecting your muscles, joints, digestion, and energy.
Energy levels can drop and fatigue can set in because your muscles are working harder to keep your slouched stance. This can lead to pain and muscle stiffness later in life, and potentially arthritis. All of this can reduce your range of motion, too. Muscles change to fit the hunched posture: they either shorten or lengthen. As a result, they cease to function as they should.
Back pain, especially lower back pain, is a major health issue associated with poor posture. The Harvard Medical School’s Family Health Guide states that most people develop back pain as a result of everyday life — although for some, it does develop as the result of an injury. To minimize back pain, general fitness is recommended, but the best practice is good posture.
Bad posture isn’t necessarily a conscious decision, and environment can be a factor contributing to how you sit and stand. Hunching over at your desk all day, staring down at smartphones and tablets, and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle are habits that have slipped into society and are pieces of the posture problem. The good news is that you can fix your less-than-straight spine. The bad news is that unlike the practices that lead to it, correction needs a conscious effort.
Since you plan on perfecting — or at least improving — your posture, a basic definition of what that is, exactly, is important. The American Chiropractic Association defines posture as the way we carry or hold ourselves while standing, sitting, and lying down. Poor posture is possible in each of those positions, and you may need to work to change one, two, or all three.
To stand properly, you’ll want to keep your knees slightly bent and knees shoulder-width apart. Your shoulders should be pulled back, stomach tucked in, and your arms hanging at your side. Align your earlobes with your shoulders, and try not to push your head forward; distribute your weight mostly to the balls of your feet, but if you will be standing for a long period of time, shift weight from one foot to the other.
A correct lying down position is dictated by comfort and your mattress, but sleeping on your stomach is advised against. You may also want to place a pillow between your knees if you sleep on your side to help matters.
Sitting, the Cleveland Clinic explains, is a bit more involved. There are ways to find your best posture depending on the chair and activity. You can have better posture by driving by using back support, and adjusting your steering wheel. In a regular chair, evenly distributing your weight on your hips, and planting your feet on the floor are just two of the tips offered.
Making these gradual adjustments will slowly straighten out your posture, and more assistance can be found in specific exercises. WebMD highlights six moves you can do to get a stronger core, which aids posture because it helps you keep your body fit and properly aligned. Yoga Journal has an in-depth look at the various practices you can utilize to improve how you sit and stand, while Shape has specific poses you can add to your fitness routine.