Can You Improve Your Health With The Right Posture?

Posture

Correct posture is an important component of health

If you were to describe how a confident person would look like, chances are having a strong, upright posture would be one of the qualities.

Your posture reflects your personality and gives an indication of your general state of health.

Although a sloping posture is associated with ageing, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Improving your posture has many health benefits:

Reduce Back And Neck Pain – Good posture reduces pressure on the neck, upper shoulders and lower back.

Lose Weight – Chiropractor James Emmett says good posture can help you lose 350 calories a day because it releases tension all over the body which gives you a feeling of having better control.

Breathe Better – An upright posture allows more oxygen to flow through the cardio-pulmonary system. Blood is able to deliver more oxygen to the different organs for more efficient functioning.

Improve Memory – A study by Indiana University revealed babies’ memories are linked to their posture. The more upright the stronger the ability to recall.

Manage Stress Better – Poor posture has been identified as a by-product of stress. Maintaining good posture improves self-esteem and confidence.

There are many ways you can improve posture. First let’s start with your normal day-to-day activities:

Sit Up Straight!

We’ve heard that command so many times since our kindergarten days. “Sit up straight!” usually pre-empted “Eat your vegetables!” from our mothers.

But our elders knew from experience there was more to maintaining the correct position than just showing respect.

Slouching increases pressure on the lower back because the spine is in a curved position.

Keeping our shoulders sloping forward adds tension on the neck and on the lower back. By sitting up straight, the spine is straightened out and there is less pressure on the lower back.

To sit up straight, you just have to align your back with your chair.

Keep your shoulder squared and straight and your neck, back and heels must be aligned.

Bad Posture

Bad posture is often just a bad habit that’s formed over time

When driving, keep your lower back pressed against the back of the seat and your head level with the head rest.

Standing Posture

When you’re standing in line for the next Hollywood blockbuster movie, take some time to observe the standing posture of everyone on the queue.

Those who are not standing in a squared position would appear to be the most annoyed and impatient.

Standing for an extended period is uncomfortable for them because their lower backs and knees are strained from taking most of the pressure.

A squared standing position means finding a stance that gives you the best balance.

Remember that everyone has different bio-mechanics. There could be a degree of misalignment in our bodies that we have not noticed and this could throw off our sense of balance.

Achieving a stable position allows weight to be distributed throughout your body and takes away pressure from your lower back and knees.

Stand on the balls of your feet, keep your upper body upright and position your neck as if you are trying to touch the ceiling with your head.

Sleeping

The rule is simple: Sleep on your back. But this is easier said than done. As we all know it is difficult maintaining just one position when sleeping.

If you belong to the majority of sleepers who constantly change position in their sleep, here are a few tips you can consider:

•    Buy a firmer mattress
•    Place a pillow between your knees if you like sleeping on your side.
•    Use a pillow that keeps your head, neck and shoulders aligned.

Walking

You can easily tell if a person came from the military from the posture when they walk.

Their upper bodies are upright, shoulders remain squared, head is kept up; eyes straight ahead and they maintain a confident cadence in their stride.

This is how they are trained to walk in the military because they do extensive physical activities almost every day. Their backs must always be in good condition.

While walking is a low-impact activity, every time you plant one foot ahead of the other, you put pressure on your lower back because it constantly shifts to keep you in balance.

When walking, maintain the principles of a good standing posture and follow a heel-to-toe transition pattern.

Once you have implemented the necessary improvements in your normal daily activities, you could take some time during the week to do exercise that could improve your posture.

Here are a few of the best exercises to improve your posture:

At Home:

Leg Holds – Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift the right knee and pull it toward your chest. With your lower back firmly pressed on the floor, slowly straighten the left leg and keep it slightly off the ground.

Move slowly back to the starting position and repeat the same motion by switching legs. Start out with just one set of five to 10 repetitions.

Crunches

Crunches: Maintain tension on your abs at all time, don’t ‘collapse’ onto your upper back at the end of the movement

Crunches – Lie on your back with knees bent. Cross your arms on your chest and slowly, deliberately lift your upper back off the floor and toward your knee.

Go as high as you can and hold the position for a count of “one thousand one”. Five to 10 repetitions with good form will suffice.

Plank – Start the position on your elbows and knees. Slowly extend your legs out until your body position assumes the starting position of the push up except that your elbows are supporting your upper body. Try to hold the plank position for at least one minute.

The Gym:

Romanian Deadlift – Hold a barbell in front of your thighs. Your grip should be just outside the outer part of your thighs. With shoulders squared and both feet angled outward, bend forward until the barbell passes a distance approximately 10 centimeters below your knee.

Maintain a slight bend on your knees all the time. Go back to the starting position and repeat. Use a weight that you can comfortably hit 10 repetitions in perfect form.

Kettlebell Swings – Adopt a position with your feet aligned with your hips. With chest up, shoulders back and down, squat and pick up the kettlebell which should be placed in the middle of your stance.

Drive your heel and initiate the swing from your hips. Imagine your hips are like a hinge. Keep your arms straight and use the power of your lower body to bring the kettlebell up to chest level. Repeat 10 times.

It’s fascinating to think that every day movements we take for granted could have serious repercussions on our posture and overall health.

With these simple adjustments and by finding more time to exercise, you could improve your posture and go through life with reduced risk of lower back pain.

It takes time to implement these changes. The key to improvement is repetition.

The more often your body goes through a series of movements, it will adapt to the mechanics and the more natural it becomes.