Champions Stand Tall: Tips to Improve Posture

How many times have you heard these words?

  • Chin up
  • Chest out
  • Shoulders back
  • Stomach in
  • Tailbone slightly tucked

These are all attributes of those who have good posture.

Why is posture so important and why is it stressed to us at a young age?

Posture is the way you naturally position your body against gravity while you sit, stand or lay. If we have learned the incorrect way to stand, sit or lie, good posture may require more thought and sometimes training.  As a result of good posture, your body puts less strain on your muscles and ligaments during movement or weight-bearing activities.

Interestingly, the way you “hold” yourself can actually affect the alignment of your musculoskeletal system. Your musculoskeletal system is made up of bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and other connective tissue that help provide form, stability and movement to the body. It may seem minor, but over time, your posture, while doing certain activities, can influence the way that you stand, sit and lay. If you develop bad posture, it can lead to injury and pain.

Good posture may be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but may also affect your confidence.   Tweet This! A study done at Ohio State revealed that students who sit up straight may actually have increased confidence in their own thoughts. Researchers found that people who were instructed to sit up straight were more likely to believe thoughts they had written about their qualifications for a job versus those who did not.

Benefits of maintaining good posture.

  • Reduces abnormal wear and tear on joints which may help to reduce the effects of arthritis.
  • By keeping bones and joints in the correct alignment, muscles are used properly.
  • Contributes to positive appearance.
  • Prevents strain and overuse.
  • Efficient use of muscles allows the body to use less energy which helps decrease fatigue.
  • Decreases ligament stress.
  • Reduces backache and muscular pains.

How do I test my posture?

The Wall Test
1) Stand with back of your head touching the wall and your heels six inches from the baseboard.
2) With your buttocks touching the wall, check the distance with your hand between your lower back and the wall, and your neck and the wall.
3)If you can get within an inch or two at the low back and two inches at the neck, you are close to having excellent posture. If not, your posture may need professional attention to restore the normal motion of your spine.

More tips to improve your posture…

It is never too late to strengthen your core and work on your posture. In fact, as we age, it becomes increasingly important to maintain good posture. Here are some tips to assist you with sitting, lying and standing healthier.   Tweet This!

1) Integrate balancing exercises into your workout routine.

Often times balance exercises are overlooked, but they are very important for posture and core strength.   Tweet This! Balancing exercises help to improve flexibility and coordination, strengthen the core muscles, increase power and agility, prevent injury and falls and ultimately maintain good posture. Try incorporating some of the following exercises to help build/maintain good posture:

  • Yoga or Tai Chi
  • Practice sitting/standing on a Bosu balance training ball or Swiss ball
  • Walk heel-to-toe
  • Walk backwards
  • Pilates

2) Visit a physical therapist or a skilled chiropractor.

Physical therapy can help correct posture by identifying posture problems and offering techniques to help strengthen muscles that may cause bad posture. Chiropractors can help maintain and correct posture through chiropractic adjustments, strengthening exercises and demonstrating proper positioning during different activities.

3) Try using a lumbar support pillow and seat wedges.

Lumbar pillows are designed to sir in the curve of your lower back while you are seated. This helps to correct the tendency to slouch or slump while sitting a desk for prolonged periods of time.

4) Practice these movements:

  • Roll your shoulders down and back.
  • Pull your elbows backwards (toward your back), which presses your scapula up against your ribs.

5) Focus on your core and upper body by incorporating one or more of the following exercises into your fitness routine:

  • Single leg extensions
  • The plank pose lying rear fly (back extensions)
  • Crunches
  • Dumbbell side bends
  • Shoulder roll

6) Supplement your workouts with mobility and stretching exercises that open and lengthen your muscles.

As you become more conscious of your posture, try incorporating some of the tips mentioned above and visit helpful sites such as mayoclinic.org.


References

Ohio State University. (2009, October 5). Body Posture Affects Confidence In Your Own Thoughts, Study Finds. ScienceDaily.

clevelandclinic.org
nih.gov
osha.gov
mayoclinic.org