How Important Is Posture ?

HiyaGorgeous

Mothers around the world for centuries have been saying day after day: Stop slouching! When thinking about ways to improve our well-being, our posture doesn’t usually come to mind. Yet we could all feel a lot better in body, mind and spirit if we paid a little more attention to our posture.

As children we possess an unself-conscious perfect posture, where we where our bodies where ideally balanced. But as we become older and grew, our modern living started to take a toll, where we have tended to adapt ourselves to a harsh environment and stressful life.

We began to loose our easy freedom of moment and balance when we started adapting to our environment, such as sitting in badly designed chairs, spending hours at the wheel of our cars and facing difficult emotional trials and traumas. Which in turn creates an unconsciously, pattern of movements that work against our bodies design and in doing so creates a build up of tension.

Long term tension and bad posture can set us up for back pain and more. Our ribs are attached to the upper spine and when we stoop or round our shoulders, our lungs are unable to expand properly, which can cause long-term respiratory problems. Also habitual slumping on settees and in armchairs puts pressure on our internal organs because our heart, digestion, lungs and so on are all squeezed and therefore cannot work as effectively as they are designed to. Basic good posture comes about when our body is fully balanced and aligned, with our back and abdominal muscles being equally strong and our spin in its optimum position. Therefore helping our body to operate more effectively.

Good posture also effects our mood, as all the nerve pathways that leave our brain, eventually go through all our muscles, creating a definite connection between what we think and what we experience. For example; People with an upright posture tend to be more confident and extrovert, while people who slump and slouch may veer towards depression and uncertainty.

  • Then in 2004 a study in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback assessed whether it was easier to generate positive or negative thoughts in either an upright or slumped position. Candidates rated which type of thought was easiest to generate in the 2 postures. Significantly more candidates (92%) indicated it was easier to generate positive thoughts in the upright position. This study suggested that positive thoughts are more easily recalled in the upright posture. 
  • More recently in 2012 a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that by simply adopting more dominate poses, people felt more powerful, in control and able to tolerate distress. Out of the candidates studied, those who used the most dominate posture were able to comfortably handle more pain than those assigned a neutral or submissive stance. 7

If you are feeling down and depressed, try sitting up straight with your eyes looking ahead and you will find it automatically lifts your mood.

 

How to gauge our posture?

Put on clothes that hug your figure and then take two full-body photos; One from the side and then one from the front. While taking your photos, stand how you would normally stand, bad posture and all!

Then take a deep look at your photos;

  • Is your ear in front of the mid-point of your shoulder? If so you are leaning your head far too forward.
  • Are your shoulders equal height or is one higher than the other?
  • Can you see your shoulder blade? If so you are rolling your back.
  • Are your hips tilted forward and does the bottom of your spine have a arch to it? If so this is called an anterior pelvic tilt and can be corrected by strengthening your core.

This assessment is a very basic starting point to help you pinpoint the areas of your posture you need to work on most. As you put the basic the basic rules for good posture (see below) into practice, take updated snapshots to see how well your posture is improving.

 

Basic rules for good posture

Standing

  • Stand straight – Think about how you stand on both feet, this may seem and sound strange but most people slouch to one side, by putting their weight on one leg, which puts us out of balance.
  • Practice the pelvic tilt – Tuck your bottom in and pull your stomach in so that you are using your muscles almost like a girdle to hold yourself in. This provides good support for the lower back.
  • Bring your chin in – Most of us poke our chins out far too far. The head should be balanced in line with our spine, with our chin tucked in.
    Walking
  • Take even strides – Some of us pull ourselves along, overusing our hamstrings (the back of the thighs) and some of us lean forward and over stride. The healthiest way to walk is to take even strides with a straight spine, head up, looking forward.
  • Keep your balance – We are designed to balance on one leg after the other. Don’t throw your weight around , keep the weight of your body central.
  • Walk low – High heals can throw the pelvis forward which, in turn will throw the whole body out of alignment. This will eventually cause shortening in some of the muscles, which could lead to back pain. Low, well cushioned shoes are the best for everyday wear. Its perfectly fine to wear high heels but just don’t wear them all day, every day.

Sitting – for work

  • Chair comfort – You should be seated at your desk with your knees lower than your pelvis. The seat should be high enough for you to relax your shoulders, leaving your arms at a 90 degree angle to your desk. If your chair has arms, they should be low enough to fit under your desk.
    • Look for ergonomically designed equipment – There is an entire field of science called ergonomics devoted to designing workplace equipment. The field focuses on maximising productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort. For example, in an ergonomic chair and seat height, seat depth, and lumber support are all specifically engineered to promote good posture.
  • Screen daze – If you use a screen at work, your pc or laptop should be on a stand, rather than on the desk, so you can look directly at it, rather than downwards towards it. Equally make sure it is placed directly in front of you, rather than off to one side.
    • Move your computer monitor, smart phone, tablet – According to Occupational Health, the centre of our computer monitors, smart phones or tablets should be located 15 to 20 degrees below horizontal eye level and 20 to 40 inches away from the eye.

Sitting – to relax

  • Don’t slump – Slumping in front of the television may feel really comfortable, but it’s the worst possible position for your back. You should have a reasonable firm support behind you, a firm cushion will help with this.
  • Watch your eyes – If you are watching television, you should be directly facing it with your head balanced. Don’t twist! If you’re reading a book or magazine, lift it up towards you, rather than bending over your lap or table.
    Sleeping
  • Get the right support – A good mattress is essential; Too soft and the curves of your back sink in and reinforce bad posture, but equally too hard a mattress can be uncomfortable.
  • Choose your pillow carefully – It needs to be malleable enough to mould to the curves of your neck. There are specialist pillows available to ensure this, or you can roll up a hand towel and place it inside your pillowcase to provide a good support for your neck.
  • Lie well – It’s fine to sleep on either your side or your back, but avoid sleeping on your front with your head to one side. It twists the upper neck and can create imbalance.

Sleeping

  • Get the right support – A good mattress is essential; Too soft and the curves of your back sink in and reinforce bad posture, but equally too hard a mattress can be uncomfortable.
  • Choose your pillow carefully – It needs to be malleable enough to mould to the curves of your neck. There are specialist pillows available to ensure this, or you can roll up a hand towel and place it inside your pillowcase to provide a good support for your neck.
  • Lie well – It’s fine to sleep on either your side or your back, but avoid sleeping on your front with your head to one side. It twists the upper neck and can create imbalance.

 

Basic rules for good posture

What to avoid

We can follow the basic rules in order to have good posture but there are certain everyday movements and practices that can play havoc with our posture that we do unconsciously over and over again.
1. The heavy shoulder bag – Shoulder bags pulls up our shoulder, causing our body to overbalance and twist to compensate. Using a rucksack is ideal as our body stays balanced but if a rucksack is not right for you or comfortable for you, keep shifting sides when carrying heaving bags on your shoulders.
2. The telephone shrug – Clutching our telephone / mobile between our ear and our shoulder can result in ‘telephone neck syndrome’, which can cause searing pain between the shoulder blades. If you spend most of your day on the phone, use a headset.
3. The reversing rick – When reversing a car, don’t pull your head back sharply and jerk your neck around. Instead, try dropping the tip of your nose towards your shoulders and then turning it while imagining your shoulder lengthening.
4. Post exercise trauma – Good posture after vigorous sport is very important. Don’t slump in the changing room, stand up and walk around straight.
5. The hip bend – Never pick up anything by twisting and bending, always bend your knees to lower your body before lifting.

20 Minute stretches to better posture 

Here are some simple stretches and strengthening exercises that target are muscles such as our hamstrings and abdominal’s which are essential for good posture. These are good to do in the morning and again in the evening.
Lower back and abdominal workout

  • Lie on your back with your arms out to your sides.
  • Bend you knees and raise them towards your chest.
  • Lowly lower both knees to the floor on one side.
  • Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Bring your knees back to the starting position, keeping your arms and shoulder blades on the floor.
  • Then lower to the other side.
  • Repeat five times on each side.

Thigh stretch

  • Lying flat on your stomach, grasp your left ankle with your left hand.
  • Press the bent leg back against your hand’s resistance.
  • Old for 20 seconds.
  • Then lower your leg .
  • Repeat with your other leg.
  • Do this stretch 5 times with both legs.

Hamstring stretch

  • Working with your partner, sit on the floor with your legs straight and hands behind you for balance.
  • Put one leg on your partners shoulder and press down for 20 – 30 seconds.
  • Then ask your partner to press down just above your knee while they rise slightly to create a passive stretch.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 5 times with each leg.

Neck stretch

  • Sitting on a stool or chair and holding the seat with your right hand, put your left hand on the rear right side of your head.
  • Gently pull your head down while rotating your chin to the right.
  • Change hands and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Repeat 5 times on each side .
  • You can also stretch your neck by gently pulling your head down towards your shoulder.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

Shoulder and Upper back workout

  • Sit on a straight chair but without touching the back.
  • With your hands clasped behind your head, raise your shoulders towards your ears and then press down.
  • Press the back of your head into your hands, so the muscles along your upper spine tighten.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Press your elbows back 10 times, so you feel the movement in your shoulder blades.

Back stretch

  • Hold the rim of a sink, with your arms straight but not locked.
  • Place your feet hip-width apart, right under your shoulders, knees slightly bent.
  • With neck muscles relaxed, let your hips sink back as if you were about to sit down.
  • Feel the stretch down the length of your spine.
  • Hold your position for 10 seconds.
  • Gradually stand up.
  • Repeat 5 times.

 

20 MINUTE STRETCHES TO BETTER POSTURE

What areas do you need to work on to have a fully balanced posture?

 

emma-xx

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