The Importance of Posture

What is posture?

We all know slouching is poor posture. Sitting up straight it good posture. Posture is the position of our bodies that we choose and habitually hold our muscles in every day.

Poor posture results from certain muscles weakening. Muscle groups work together and against each other to achieve or hold certain movements. Some muscles tighten and shorten as they contract, while others lengthen and relax. As a result of the way certain muscles interact, some can become weak and contribute to poor posture habits.

How do we develop a certain posture?

Poor posture can come from daily activities we perform without even thinking about it. Slouching in our chair can cause our lower back muscles to weaken and tighten, resulting in aches and pains. Sitting for long periods of time in the car can result in tight hip flexor muscles, affecting our gait when walking or running.

Good posture has opposite effects. Sitting with a pillow behind your lower back for lumbar support minimizes the chances of developing back pain. Standing up straight with shoulders back allows your chest to remain open and your neck muscles to relax.

Why does it matter?

Poor posture, as briefly mentioned above, can cause all sorts of issues for people. Chronic pain, aches, discomfort, headaches, migraines, and more can all be results of poor posture. And on the flip side, correcting poor posture and developing good posture habits can reverse these issues.

How can I have better posture?

Posture is a habit. It’s a choice. The way to get better posture is to consciously be aware of the positions you are holding your body in. Here’s a few things you can do to ensure better posture.

1. Stretch. Stretching muscles that get tight and stiff from bad posture or by maintaining a certain position for too long is a great way to start improving posture. When you begin stretching, you probably won’t be too flexible because the muscles are tight and short. The more consistently you stretch, the more flexible and versatile your muscles will become, which is good! Click here to read about some great stretches to incorporate into your day.

2. Sit up/Stand up straight. Check your posture throughout the day. Slouching, arching your back, and other “lazy” positions aren’t good! Sit up tall and roll your shoulders back so they sit in their sockets, where they belong. Simply remembering this throughout the day as you slowly slouch down closer to your computer monitor can reset your posture and prevent aches later.

3. Strength. Exercise your core and your back. Most people with back pain have bad posture and weak core muscles. Strengthening your core helps take pressure off your back by allowing the muscles to handle the load you and gravity are placing on them when you sit or stand.

4. Take breaks. If you are sitting for long periods of time, break it up by walking around for a few minutes, or standing and stretching briefly. Likewise with standing for too long – stretch a little!

5. Yoga. Practicing yoga is an awesome way to stretch and improve muscle tone as well as posture!

Questions? Leave a comment!

Home Workout #2 – Stretch Routine

Here are some great stretches to look up and incorporate into your day. No equipment needed!  I’ve included the sequence I personally go through. Hold each stretch for 5 breaths or 30 seconds.

1. Standing up straight, lift both arms up with hands clasped. Gently arch backwards to stretch your back and open your chest and shoulders.

2. From there, gently bend over, keeping your legs straight. Reach for your toes (without bouncing!)

3. Standing up straight again, gently pull one arm across your body. Repeat other side.

4. Now, place your hands on your hips, raise one arm and lean over the opposite side of your body. Repeat other side.

5. Now stand with your legs apart. Gently lunge towards one side to stretch your inner thigh. Repeat other side.

6. Moving to the ground, lay on your back and hug both of your knees in to gently realign your spine

7. Remain on your back. Extend one leg so it is flat on the ground and hug the other knee in to your chest. Repeat other side.

8. From here, gently pull the hugged-in knee across your body with the opposite arm. Keep the opposite shoulder (the one on the same side as the bent knee) flat on the ground. This stretch will loosen your lower back and upper glutes. Repeat other side.

9. Flip over to your stomach and lay flat for Cobra. With your hands positioned on either side of your chest, gently push your torso up (keep your legs on the ground), and look to the ceiling to stretch your chest and abdomen. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed.

10. From here move on to Cat/Camel stretches. These involve crouching on your hands and knees while alternately arching and bridging your back to release the muscles.

11. Child’s pose stretches your muscles from your shoulders all the way down your back. From cat/camel, sit back on your feet and reach your arms forward on the ground. Lean your head close to the ground to ease into the stretch.

There you have it. Some really great stretches that will make you feel good, loosen up, and relax. Enjoy!