Straighten Up! Better Posture, Better Life

| May 3, 2016 | Reply

by Freelance Writer Jenny Morris

What is good posture? It is generally considered to be a position in which your back is upright and your buttocks are at the back of your chair, with your feet placed flat on the floor and your knees bent at a right angle. When standing, you should be able to draw an imaginary straight line from your earlobe through your shoulder, hip, knee, and middle of your ankle. (Just remember, this doesn’t mean you should be at a 90-degree angle, as your body and spine has a natural curve.)

It seems simple enough, but many of us are plagued by poor posture. Long days slouched at desk jobs don’t help. Improving your posture comes with many benefits, from reduced pain to increased confidence. Proper posture will soon have you feeling like a whole new you!

Reduce Back & Neck Pain

Good posture and back support are essential for avoiding back and neck pain, but we tend to forget that when hunching over our computers and phones all day. The Cleveland Clinic states that many people who suffer from back pain experience positive changes when they improve their posture.

Poor posture adds strain to muscles and places stress on the spine. This can change the anatomical characteristics of the spine, constricting blood vessels and nerves and leading to muscular, disc, and joint problems. Proper posture prevents muscle aches and fatigue and keeps bones and joints in proper alignment. This means your body is using your muscles more efficiently to prevent strain and overuse.

better posture

Ensure Your Future Health

Your future self will thank you for your good posture because it helps prevent:

  • Wear and tear on join surfaces that can lead to arthritis.
  • Stress on ligaments that connect your spinal joints.
  • Developing an abnormal permanent position, which can cause spinal disc problems and constricted blood vessels and nerves.
  • Injury and deformity of spinal joints.

Lose Weight

Did you know you can even lose weight just by maintaining good posture? That’s right, your body can burn up to 350 calories a day by being upright. Chiropractor James Emmett explains this is because when you carry yourself properly, you relieve your body of tension, allowing everything to flow more naturally.

Strengthen Your Core

Sitting upright extends the mid-back, placing the spine in a neutral position that allows the pelvis to position itself in a way that the core muscles can work better. This will make your abs appear flatter and toned.

Breathe Better

Another perk of good posture is that it helps open your airways and ensure proper breathing. This allows enhanced oxygen flow through the cardiopulmonary system, which in turn allows the blood to carry sufficient oxygen to the entire body. Efficient blood and oxygen flow ensures that your nervous system, organs, and other tissues function properly.

Boost Your Brain Function

An Indiana University study that focused on how words and memories are linked to posture found that babies’ learning ability is affected by their posture. When upright, their ability to map new experiences and remember things improved.

Improved brain function also leads to improved productivity. Sitting upright makes us alert, focused, and productive. Slouching, however, decreases your oxygen intake by 30%, making it harder to keep your energy up.

Look Good, Feel Good

Posture is a common representation of power across all species. In Amy Cuddy’s famous TED Talk on “Power Posing,” she explained that open, expansive postures reflect high power, while narrow, closed postures reflect low power. People with high power poses have stronger feelings of dominance, are more inclined to risk-taking, and have less anxiety.

Increased confidence shows on the outside, too! You look taller, slimmer, and more successful when you sit and stand tall—an integral part of making a good first impression. An Ohio State University study found that sitting upright reinforced confidence, while slumped participants were unsure of themselves.

Get Happy

In addition to feeling better physically, proper posture can put you in a better mood. Dutch behavioral scientist and San Francisco State University professor, Erik Peper, conducted a small experiment in which he and another researcher assessed how posture affected an individual’s ability to generate positive and negative thoughts. Participants said it was easier to conjure positive thoughts and memories when sitting upright.

Yet another study demonstrated that skipping increased participants’ energy levels, while a sad, slumped walk decreased energy levels. Those who reported they were the most depressed of the lot prior to the experiment stated that the wilted walk drained their energy even farther.

Reduce Stress

Stress causes and perpetuates poor posture and, let’s face it, we could all use less of it.

One study compared different seated postures to evaluate how each affected emotions in the face of stress. An upright posture when stressed can maintain self esteem, reduce negative mood, and increase positive mood. It’s easy to see why good posture is an effective strategy in building resilience to stress.

Are you working on your posture, but still suffering from back and neck pain? Try some other techniques in addition to sitting upright, like:

  • Yoga: Those with back pain often find yoga very therapeutic, as it loosens the myofascial muscles, improves balance, and induces relaxation.
  • Back Exercises: Practice a balance of strengthening, stretching, and aerobic back exercise. Regular work outs will make your back strong, resilient, and pain-free.
  • Back Massage: A quality back massage helps decrease muscular tension, boost blood circulation, increase flexibility, and release endorphins.
  • Heat and Cold Therapy: Try a cold pack for acute back pain to reduce inflammation and lessen pain caused by nerve spasms. Use heat therapy to stimulate blood flow, which aids the healing process and inhibits pain messages being sent to the brain.

If you had the option to reduce pain, boost your brain function, be more confident, and improve your overall well-being, wouldn’t you? It’s as simple as improving your posture, so stand (or sit) tall and proud today!

Author Bio: Jenny Morris is a New Hampshire-based freelance writer who frequently contributes content to site covering various topics from travel, social media, technology and much more. A graduate from the University of New Hampshire with a bachelors degree in arts in communication, is originally from Massachusetts but moved to the Granite state after attending UNH. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling and being active.

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