Our posture impacts us more than we think.
Having good posture means your spine is neutral and all the muscles surrounding your spine are balanced and equally supporting your body weight.
To check your posture when sitting down: Your feet should be flat on the floor and your weight evenly distributed on both hips. Your back should be mostly straight and your shoulders relaxed but not turned forward. Your ears should also line up over your collarbones.
When standing up, your legs should be slightly bent at the knee to avoid locking or hyperextending your knee joints.
Here are 5 reasons why having a good posture is important and how to achieve it:
1. Fewer headaches
Poor posture is actually one of the contributing factors to getting tension headaches, due to the increased muscle tension in the back of the neck. Correcting your posture can also decrease the frequency of tension headaches you may experience.
Improve your posture: Head Retraction Exercise
To do this, lie flat on your back, feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Pull your chin towards your chest like you’re trying to make a double chin. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds and repeat 10 times.
2. Increased lung capacity
Slouching compresses your lungs. If you sit taller and stand straighter, your lungs will have more space to expand and take in more air. Good posture improves your breathing.
Improve your posture: Push out your pecs
Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart. Lock your hands behind your back and hold for 20 seconds. This stretches your chest and pectoral muscles to relieve your lungs. Take deep breaths during the stretch and exhale slowly as you return to your normal standing position.
3. Less tension in your neck and shoulders
A forward head posture puts muscle strain on your neck, shoulder, and upper back. Good posture aligns joints and ligaments in these areas so they are less stressed and avoid being subjected to chronic overuse.
Improve your posture: Neck Stretches
Straighten your spine and stand straight. Slightly tuck your chin towards your chest. You should notice a slight tension in your clavicular muscles and an extension of the muscles at the back of your neck. Hold this position for 3 seconds and repeat 15 times.
4. Lesser lower back pain
Prolonged periods of standing or sitting in a slouched position puts a huge amount of stress on your lower back, leading to more frequent or even chronic lower back pain.
Improve your posture: Do bridges
Bridge exercises engage and strengthen your glutes and your core so your body learns to rely on them rather than your lower back.
Lie flat on your back, feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Tighten your abdomen without changing your back position. Lift your hips and lower torso off the floor by squeezing your glutes. Slowly lower your hips back down and repeat the exercise.
5. More energy
When you have good posture, your joints and bones are in correct alignment, allowing your muscles to function as they should, causing less fatigue and more energy.
Improve your posture: Torso Twists
This exercise strengthens your obliques so that the right muscle groups are activated when you’re either standing or sitting down.
Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Lift your feet about 6 inches off the floor. Engage your core muscles as you twist your upper body and elbows from side to side.