The benefits of good posture has long been known. Yet for many people, there is a tendency to sit or stand awkwardly. At work, we bend over laptops for long periods of time in the workplace and we often fail to consider the damage we may be doing to our backs. Unfortunately, it is very easy to damage the neck and spine and when this happens, pain can be intense. It is true that the benefits of good posture cannot be overstated. We live sedentary lives and exercise less than we should so, core muscles which are vitally important for a healthy back tend to become weaker due to age. Without these supporting muscles, a poor posture and a lack of care can result in debilitating pain. It is also easy to reinjure the body leading to additional back and neck pain once the initial damage has been done.
We often take our health for granted at least, until we lose it. A serious back condition can limit movement considerably and cause time away from the workplace. Even lifting awkwardly or sneezing can cause damage. Where neck pain exists, headaches often occur, and a pinched nerve or back spasms can greatly impact life. By improving posture and being aware of the pressures on the back and neck, it’s possible to stay healthy and to avoid injury. This often means making subtle adjustments.
The benefits of good posture
When you think about your posture and make a conscious decision to stand or to sit correctly, you help your body to work efficiently, aligning bones and joints correctly. This enables muscles to work effectively and results in less wear and tear on the surfaces of the joints. It also reduces stress on the ligaments. In addition, standing tall means avoiding compressing the organs of the body and improves circulation. With this in mind, avoid crossing legs when sitting and aim for proper alignment of the spine. When you sit correctly, your lungs work properly, expanding fully when breathing. The head should be neatly stacked on top of the body and without the head leaning forward. If you find your head does this, you may notice stress and tension in the jaw with an increased potential for headaches.
How to achieve strong posture
General awareness of your posture will form a strong starting point. Once you become used to monitoring movement, you can start to work on those core muscles, strengthening them a little at a time. Try to work on exercises that increase muscular strength in the torso. These muscles support the back and reduce the risk of pain. Care must be taken not to overdo exercise or to strain as niggles in the back can easily lead to a flare-up. It is all about understanding how the body works and listening to it.
Improved flexibility and motion within the spine and joints are beneficial and makes good posture easier. Without this, biomechanics can be affected impacting the joints and leading to muscular strain. Try to imagine the muscles balanced on either side of the spine and although it takes time to develop awareness of posture, bad habits can be overcome by consciously correcting it.
The benefits of good posture – why yoga can help
Yoga can help to improve posture. It certainly increases awareness and improves flexibility and there is no need to strain. A little movement is better than none. A flexible spine is a young spine. Basic yoga poses work to strengthen the body and to ensure joints remain pain-free. Yoga brings a new sense of awareness as to how to stand and move and helps to reprogram the mind so that there is a more mindful approach. Take time to learn basic yoga poses including the most fundamental of all – Mountain pose. This teaches good posture. Use the breath to coincide with movement. Yoga is beneficial but good posture requires additional considerations.
When you sit in a chair, try to have your feet resting evenly and flat on the floor. Feel the floor beneath your feet. Imagine yourself grounded with spine erect and to avoid tension in the neck and shoulders, draw the shoulders up and then, down and back. Sitting incorrectly leads to pressure on the lower back. This impacts the spine, the discs, ligaments and muscles. Try to visualise the natural curves of the spine and then, keep the spine as straight as possible. Keep the jaw soft without it jutting forward as this places pressure on the neck and increases the risk of neck pain. Bend the knees a little when standing and also, when lifting.
Inflexible muscles reduce the range of motion – consider tight chest muscles as this pulls the shoulders forward. When core muscles are weak, it is easy for the body to slump and it is this that tips the body off balance. Working all the core muscles and increasing flexibility can have a beneficial effect on health generally. Basic yoga poses, awareness and strengthening exercises will make a big difference so that you can stand tall and be proud. There is no doubt that the benefits of good posture are far-reaching. Look after your back and it will look after you.