Over the past two weeks, we have shared how posture impacts overall wellness as well as how it can affect your weight loss efforts. “Good posture” means maintaining the natural curves of the spine, and is also referred to as keeping a neutral spine. When we maintain a neutral spine, there is a minimal amount of stress on the frame of the body.
Of course, what is considered a good posture depends on the activity. You won’t have the same posture sitting as you will when doing Yoga. Sources share that posture falls into two categories:
- Dynamic posture is how you hold yourself when you are moving, like when you are walking, running, or bending over to pick up something.
- Static posture is how you hold yourself when you are not moving, like when you are sitting, standing, or sleeping.
People most often consider static posture- how we sit at our desks, on the couch, etc. Cumulatively though, it is just as important to address and correct posture throughout all the other moments in the day, to really improve our body’s alignment and function.
Improving how we hold ourselves can initially seem like a daunting all-day task. Slowly build into your routine habits and moments to “check in” on your posture to get the routine started.
- Adjust your posture when changing activities: When you start a new activity- from washing dishes, sitting to watch a show, or even going for walk- take a moment to position and align yourself comfortably and with the right tools. This might include a pillow to support your lower back, the right shoes to ensure your gait is aligned, or adding a cushioned floor mat near your sink to better cushion while you stand and clean up.
- Exercise, but learn how to do it correctly: Physical activity is crucial to maintaining overall health. Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, which in turn helps joint function. Exercise can also help keep you more limber and builds strength that helps posture. Core strength is particularly important, as your body relies on those muscles (which include muscles in your back, pelvis, and abdomen) to support your entire body. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous or particularly taxing- movements incorporated in low impact activities like Tai Chi, Yoga, and even just walking can help build strength. Take the time to first learn proper form to prevent injury. Once you feel comfortable with the movements, make sure you maintain good posture throughout the activity to best support your body.
- Watch your weight: Extra weight can weaken your abdominal muscles, put extra strain on your pelvis and spine, and also lead to back pain. Ultimately, all these factors can impact your posture.
- Wear supportive, low-heeled shoes: Higher heeled shoes change the alignment of your body, shifting your center of gravity and your posture. Save those heels for special occasions, if you use them at all, to help keep your body in tip-top shape.
- Check the ergonomics of your spaces: As we shared over the past couple of weeks, ergonomics at work and at home are important to address.
- Switch positions: Changing positions helps prevent fatigue, which can lead to slouching, leaning, and other poor postures.
Other times to consider your posture include:
Using smart devices
Cases of dorsal humps or dowager humps, a fat pad that builds up at the base of the neck, have increased significantly as the usage of smart phones and devices has become a daily norm. The body develops the fat pad in an effort to better support the weight of the head when in a forward- tilted position for a prolonged time.
Day after day, looking down at your phone or tablet can result in some serious discomfort and the emergence of a hump. To help maintain a healthy posture, raise your device to eye level, keep your shoulders back, and make sure you’re looking at your device straight-on. A new study suggests that looking down at a cell phone is the equivalent of placing a 60-pound weight on one’s neck.
Reclining while driving may sound like a more relaxing option when you pile into the car. But, it can lead to you craning your neck forward and slumping over. Instead, pull your seat close to the steering wheel. Bend your knees slightly, and adjust the seat if possible, to keep your knees aligned with your hips. If needed, use a pillow or other support behind your back.
Posture matters when you’re sleeping, too. Sleeping in a position that isn’t natural for the body (like sleeping on your stomach, with your head turned to the side), or having a mattress that doesn’t help support your body is something you immediately feel when you wake up. Choose a mattress that helps hold your spine’s natural shape. Read more here, for how to select a mattress that can help reduce pain and keep your sleeping posture strong.
Something as simple as standing or sitting up straight can have a tremendous impact on both our physical and emotional well being. Tune in next week for simple ways to improve posture.