Posture is more than looking poised or confident, it is about how you stand, sit, walk, sleep, and how well your body functions overall. Not only that, good posture will promote body alignment, enhance breathing, promote circulation, and eliminate back pain. Keep reading to find out more about posture and how to improve it.
Posture is your body position when sitting, standing, and walking. Correct body posture encourages even distribution of weight, decreases joint discomfort and degeneration, and boosts strong muscles and ligaments.
More About Good Posture
The goal of achieving the right posture is to have a neutral spine, where the body retains proper alignment of its three curves--cervical, lumbar, and thoracic.
Correct Posture When Standing
A good standing posture is where the shoulder, hips, knee, and ankles align in a straight line.
To determine your standing body curve, stand straight with your back, butt, shoulder, and head against the wall with the heel about six inches away. If you struggle to attain the alignment, it is an indication your spine is misaligned or curved.
The cues for good standing posture include
Chin parallel to the floor
Shoulders aligned with hips and ankles
Weight evenly distributed in both feet
A proper sitting posture is achieved when your hips, elbows, and knee bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor.Sitting down for extended periods can affect your spine alignment, circulation, and cause back pain.
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It is challenging to maintain a great position all the time, so take a break often to stretch and exercise. You can carry stretch straps for a portable and effective workout.
Benefits of Good Posture
Upright posture is vital not only to your body image and confidence, but also your health in general.
A good posture will keep your bones and joints in right alignment and decrease the pressure off your back and shoulders.
Promotes Proper Breathing
Slouching can shorten your muscles, affect lung capacity, and obstruct your breathing. By improving your body posture, you can add a real boost to cardiovascular health.
Eliminates Back Pain
Poor body position will affect your back and abdominal muscle, ligaments, and tendons, and put too much pressure on your back.
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While you work on improving your posture, try a TENS unit to alleviate some of the pain in the meantime. Simply connect the pads and adjust the therapy to your liking.
What Causes Bad Posture
Bad posture is not abrupt but occurs over the course of time, and it may be as a result of improper body positioning, disease, injury, and genetics. Determining the underlying cause is crucial in choosing a holistic treatment.
Some of the causes of bad posture include:
After an injury, your muscle will spasm to protect the affected area. However, extended muscle spasms can weaken the back, limit movement and cause pain, and eventually affect your posture.
While only a small part of the body, the truth is that misaligned feet can lead to affect the back, neck, and shoulders. Be sure to correct gait imbalances and other foot conditions as they crop up to ensure full body health.
Bone and muscle degeneration increase with age and can heighten the risk of spinal stenosis--the narrowing of the spinal cord. Spinal stenosis predisposes you to scoliosis and other posture-related conditions.
Extended use of computers will weaken your back muscles and cause rounded shoulders. Leaning forward and sitting for long periods can also cause fatigue, joint stiffness, and reduce blood circulation to your bones, tendons, ligaments.
High heels, unsupportive bras, worn out shoes, and heavy backpacks will not only worsen your posture but can lead to severe back pain.
Types of Bad Posture
A variety of posture treatments are available, but before getting started on treatment you need to know what type of posture you have. Learn about the different varieties below:
Kyphosis is the forward rounding of your spine, and it’s common in senior women. It can be caused by broken vertebrae, osteoporosis, disk degeneration, congenital disabilities, and sometimes cancer.
Kyphosis is asymptomatic, but you can experience chronic back pain.
Flat back occurs when your spine loses its natural curve and becomes flat. This posture may develop because of degenerative disc diseases, compression fractures, lumbar post laminectomy syndrome, or arthritis.
We all have a natural curve of the spine. But when the curve is exaggerated, it can cause hyperlordosis, which is common in obese and pregnant women.
Forward Head Posture
Poking chin develops when the cervical bone falls to the anterior position. Forward head posture is caused by sleeping with too many pillows as well as slouching.
Signs of Bad posture
According to the American Physical Therapy Association, bad posture presents a range of visible signs including potbelly, rounded shoulders, and bent knees when walking and standing. Learn to identify all the signs and symptoms of bad posture below.
Improper posture can cause different health problems.
Compression of lungs and diaphragm
Kyphosis can decrease lung capacity, obstruct their function, and interfere with your breathing. Furthermore, improper posture weakens your abnormal muscles and constricts the movement of the diaphragm, affecting your digestion.
Weakened back muscles can affect your walking, ability to stand, and also cause pain when you lie down. Decreased mobility can in turn lead to further problems with posture
Forward head posture affects stress, mood, memory, depression, and at times can increase the risk of asthma and heart disease.
How to Fix Bad Posture
Poor posture is reversible with the correct treatment. Here are a few remedies to help improve posture, tighten muscles, and correct the abnormal curving of the spine and vertebrae.
Use an Ergonomic Chair
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Ergonomic chairs conform to your body’s shape, support the spine, and keep joints and tissue in correct alignment. These seats are also customizable to help you attain the correct height. Additionally, you can boost comfort with a lumbar support pillow that contours to your back and relieves pressure off your spine.
Sleep with Proper Body Alignment
Posture doesn’t apply only to standing and sitting--you need to sleep in proper alignment to protect your back muscles and ligaments.
A cervical pillow can turn every night into a soothing neck massage. ( See Product )
A supportive mattress will go a long way in providing both comfort and body alignment. Choose a pillow depending on your sleeping position, for example, a cervical pillow is ideal for back sleepers as it supports head and neck.
Wear a Posture Corrector Brace
Support and improve your posture all day with this lightweight brace. ( See Product )
A posture corrector brace is designed to be worn around the back and shoulders. It pulls the shoulders into their natural position, reduces pressure on the spine, and relieves stress on your back.
Hip flexor muscles are located around the inner thighs and pelvic region, and they enable you to run, jump and stand properly.
Hip flexors tend to weaken if not exercised, causing them to shorten, tighten, and cause rounded shoulders. Strengthening this muscle group is essential, and various stretches can help with that. Learn how to perform the hip flexor stretches here.
Posture Correction Exercises
Rounded shoulders and hunchback postures are the most common issues, especially among people who spend long hours sitting. A few posture exercises can help to correct and tighten your shoulder muscles.
Upper Back or Thoracic Spine Foam Roller Stretches
Upper back exercises help to relieve pain, reduce tightness, realign your spins, and improve posture. These workouts are simple and effective, as long as you follow the proper guidelines.
Superman exercises, if done regularly, can alleviate back pain, strengthen hamstrings, glute, and back muscles.
Chest stretch helps to loosen biceps and shoulder muscles, increase flexibility, improve circulation, and posture.
Planks engage a wide range of muscles and strengthen your core. If done correctly, planks can improve posture, balance, flexibility, and reduce back pain.
How to perform plank exercises.
Also, you need to strengthen the core (your abdominal and lower back muscles that connect the spine and pelvis), and exercises like Tai Chi, yoga and Pilates are great because they target your entire core.
Posture Correction Treatment
Osteopathy is a non-invasive therapy that improves health and strengthens the musculoskeletal framework. This holistic approach is used to correct a variety of situations including posture caused by pregnancy and injuries.
Chiropractic therapy is another treatment suitable for scoliosis and hunchback posture. The treatment seeks to manipulate specific areas of the joints as well as stimulate the body’s natural healing process.
Before you engage in any of the posture corrector treatments, assess your body alignment to know the type and severity of your posture. If in doubt, speak to a chiropractor and doctor, especially if you have an underlying medical condition like scoliosis.
Jessica Hegg is the content manager and at ViveHealth.com. With vast product knowledge and understanding of individual needs, she aims to share valuable information on making smart buying choices, overcoming obstacles and overall improving the quality of life for others. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living healthy lifestyle.
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