Why posture matters

After a long day of work at the desk, then a long commute home, it is not uncommon for us to feel an soreness in the low back or a tightness in our shoulders or neck. Wouldn’t it be awesome to reach home from work at the end of the day pain free?

For this, we need good posture

Posture is the placement of our body parts relative to each other. It is the way we hold our bodies upright against the pull of gravity. In order to have good posture, our spine needs to be aligned; meaning to say, our spine expresses its three curves properly:

  1. bending inward at the neck
  2. curving slightly out at the upper back
  3. in again at the lower back.

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) indicate that good standing posture (as seen from the side) is the alignment of our ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle. When sitting, our head should be erect, and back posture should maintain the three natural spinal curves.

Sitting at our desk or in our car for extended periods of time causes the natural placement of our body parts to get out of sync. Our heads tend to jut forward, whether to see the computer screen better or to imply that traffic needs to move faster. Our shoulders (top of arm bones) tends to slope forward too, caving in our chest and lengthening out our upper back.

The list is endless, but other reasons why we develop bad posture include:

  • Unsupportive shoes
  • Genetics
  • Accidents or injuries
  • Being overweight
  • Low self-esteem
  • Weak muscles
  • Chairs which are too high or too low

Why Posture Is Important

Aside from looking confident and poised, here are a few reasons why having better posture is beneficial to you:

  • A slouching posture is detrimental to you circulation, as your ribs are caved over your chest and heart. In the long run, your vertebrae could deteriorate from slouching.
  • Bad posture is taxing to the body, as your muscles and joints might move unnecessarily. As such, you might experience fatigue or exhaustion, especially if your circulation is already affected.
  • Migraines might arise if you slouch over with your shoulders rolled forward. This is caused by muscle aches in the shoulder and neck areas, which causes headaches in the long term.
  • Poor posture also could lead to herniated discs (slipped discs).
    It also could cause misalignment in the joints of your body, which in turn affects the muscles in your body, the way you move and even impede your range of movement.

What You Can Do To Improve Posture

One of the best ways to improve your posture is to exercise:
By keeping your weight at optimal level, your body will have relatively good posture.

Strengthening the core helps to keep your spine in check. The core muscles include the abdominal group and the lower back muscles, as well as the thighs and glutes. The abs and lower back stabilise the lower torso to keep the spine upright, while the thighs and buttocks keep the hips in alignment.

And of course, stretch those tight muscles out!

Here’s an infographic to help you out:

Get health and fitness tips at Greatist.com

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