For many people, posture has become a subconscious habit. Many times, if you’re not intentional about maintaining proper posture, you may find yourself slouching over your laptop for hours on end until, one day, your shoulders, neck, and back start to hurt.
“Good posture is a foundation for good health,” says Wendy Katzman, a physical therapist and former professor at the University of California San Francisco. Keep reading to learn more about why it’s incredibly important to pay attention to your posture, what can happen if you neglect it, and the simple fixes you can make to improve it.
Why Is Good Posture Important?
Not only does practicing good posture help prevent neck, shoulder, and back pain, but it improves breathing, and digestion while helping you to maintain flexibility and balance. Bad posture, on the other hand, can lead to a variety of long-term health problems. By making a few lifestyle adjustments, the negative effects can be easily avoided. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that posture can affect your life.
1. Back Pain
When you practice incorrect posture over long periods, several areas of stress may develop within your muscle tissue, spinal joints, and discs. Hunching over your desk or laptop for hours on end or standing strains your back, core, and abdominal muscles. Not only does this lessen the blood supply they are receiving, but over time, you may start to develop stiffness and weakness in your mid and lower back.
2. Poor sleep
While posture is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when figuring out why you’re not sleeping well, it’s a factor to consider. This is especially true for people who spend the majority of their day sitting at a desk. Poor posture can lead to neck pain, back pain, and increased stress levels which ultimately can interfere with your ability to get quality sleep.
Not only can slouched posture after a meal trigger heartburn caused by acid reflux, but it puts pressure on the abdomen, which can force stomach acid in the wrong direction, explains Dr. Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist at Harvard. Limited evidence also suggests that digestion in the intestines slows down when you slouch.
4 . Mood and energy levels
Those who practice good posture tend to have more energy, are more alert and are generally more aware of their surroundings. When you’re sitting upright with a straight back and proper posture, the body and mind are running at much higher levels, leading to an increase in energy. If you tend to slouch or lean over when sitting or standing, your breathing, heart rate, and adrenalin levels may slow down, causing you to feel sluggish.
What Does Correct Posture Look Like?
When a person exhibits good posture, they’re standing tall and focusing on aligning the position of the spine. You don’t want to be leaning forward or backward. Keep your shoulders down and back, head level, and feet about shoulder-width apart.
Source: Tone and Tighten/Youtube
When standing, keep your shoulders back and relaxed, your abdomen pulled in, and your weight balanced on both feet placed hip-width apart. You also want your knees to be relaxed and your head to be directly over your spine. When sitting, whether you’re working at your desk or lounging on the couch, try to be mindful of slouching and shoulder hunching.
The Benefits of Good Posture
As you can see, good posture isn’t just about how you present yourself. Having poor posture can help improve your overall physical and mental health and well-being. It can help you stay focused and more energized throughout the day and can help improve your mood, too. It can also reduce the risk of back and neck pain, especially if you work an office job or sit for long periods during the day. Making a few simple changes to your posture will help improve your life!
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