Walking down the street, standing in a crowd: it is easy to spot people with good posture. They stride confidently, seem taller, and give off an air of optimism and good health. What they have figured out is this—there are actual health benefits of good posture, and nearly everyone can immediately begin to reap the rewards of standing tall.
First the health benefits of better posture (plus a few extra!):
- Decreases wear and tear on joints because all joints are in alignment and not being worn unevenly
- Increases muscle in the body as all muscles are being used properly and in conjunction with each other
- Prevents fatigue because the body is using muscle efficiently and using less energy
- Benefits the spine because all vertebrae are aligned and working together
- Can alleviate back pain that is due to improper spinal alignment
- Allows for better breathing, opening up your ribs so that your lungs can fill to capacity
- Makes you taller
- Gives the appearance of confidence
So how do you reap the health benefits of good posture? Good posture is not standing up straight; in fact, the spine has three curves that are naturally present and should not be straightened completely.
When you are sitting, sit with your weight evenly distributed over both buttocks. Your shoulders should be relaxed and drawn slightly back, and your chin should be slightly down, as if a thread were gently drawing the back of your head to the ceiling. Your belly should be drawn in slightly, and your buttocks tucked under, keeping the natural curve in the lower back but not letting it be pronounced. Standing with correct posture is much the same. With both sitting and standing, you may feel some fatigue as you correct years of bad posture habits. Try to change positions every thirty minutes or so, and if possible, give a standing desk a try if you work at a desk.
Another benefit of good posture is increased strength in your core. By keeping the navel gently drawn in and back, and by tucking the buttocks under, you are engaging the core muscles of your abdomen. This is the powerhouse of your body, and by working them gently on a daily basis you increase stamina and strength in all areas of your body.
Good posture is one of the simplest things we can change to immediately improve our health and sense of well-being. Tune into your body now. How’s your posture? What changes can you make immediately?
Image by allnightavenue via Flickr