When was the last time you thought about your posture? As it turns out, sitting and standing correctly is essential to good health and well-being. If you’ve been slouching, it’s time to stand up tall and embrace the benefits of holding your body correctly.
Bad posture develops out of habits such as watching TV or looking at your phone for a long period of time, sitting at a desk, failing to exercise or following a sedentary lifestyle. When you spend your day hunched over, it becomes the way you hold your body. Fortunately, there are ways to correct this.
The Great Benefits of Good Posture
There are numerous benefits to good posture, both medical and otherwise. Having good posture:
- Improves Your Breathing: Practicing good posture opens up your lung capacity, leading to improved breathing. This may increase your oxygen capacity by about 30%. When you’re slouching, it puts pressure on the lungs and hampers your ability to fill them properly.
- Increases Energy: When you slouch, you put more pressure on your muscles compared to when you stand or sit properly. This can be exhausting to the body, so you’re more likely to get tired. Improve your posture and you’ll see your energy levels increase.
- Supports Digestion: When you practice poor posture, it puts a lot of strain on your gastrointestinal system. Slouching compresses the organs, making digestion more difficult. However, if you improve your posture, both your digestion and circulation will get better.
- Lessens Lower Back Pain: Slouching puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the back and spine. Over time this can cause damage and may create lower back pain. However, you can diminish this discomfort by learning to use correct posture.
- Boosts Brain Health: Good posture increases the amount of oxygen that gets to your brain, improving concentration and other cognitive facilities. In addition, there’s improved circulation to the brain — which improves overall functioning.
- Reduces Neck and Shoulder Stress: In many cases when you slouch, it puts a huge amount of tension on the neck and shoulders. This is especially true if you dip your head forward. Good posture can lessen this tension by taking the pressure off.
Exercises for Developing Good Posture
If you have poor posture, you can change it by engaging in a few simple exercises a few times every week:
- Shoulder Blade Squeeze: For this exercise, either stand or sit with your back straight. Stretch your chest forward while pulling your shoulders back. Bend your arms at a 90 degree angle and hold them just above your hips. Finally, move your elbows back and pull your shoulder blades together tight. Hold for 15-20 seconds.
- Upper Trapezius Stretch: Stand upright with your feet apart. Take your left arm, stretch it behind your back and grab your right arm. Pull the wrist towards the right in a gentle way.
Then, tilt your head towards your left shoulder. Hold this position for a minute and then switch.
- Levator Scapulae Stretch: Sit straight with your hands at your sides. Raise your right arm forward and then reach back and grasp your right shoulder blade, applying pressure. Staying otherwise still, rotate your head 45 degrees to the left. Tilt your chin down and feel your neck muscles stretch. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
If you’ve dismissed the idea of good posture in the past, you may want to change your mind. With the amazing benefits of this practice, it’s worth putting time into learning how to sit and stand correctly. Correct posture is an essential part of good health.
In addition to good posture, there are other things you can do to lessen the stress or pain in your back, neck, and shoulders and improve your confidence and general health.
Contact us at Active Back to Health Centre to make an appointment for massage, acupuncture, orthotics, counselling or laser. You can also see a chiropractor or naturopathic specialist.