Back pain. Neck pain. Malaise. All of these things come as a special bonus for having bad posture. We’re all prone to bad posture at some point; after all, the easy thing to do is slouch or slump, especially if you’re tired. Here’s the downside to slumping: undue stress on your spine can lead to back pain issues later in life.
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Why Good Posture Is Important
Good posture often means the difference between chronic pain and a good quality of life in your old age. Good posture is the foundation for a strong, healthy, back and is essential for just about every physical activity you do. Without a strong back, you can’t run, sit, stand, walk, pick things up, engage in any kind of sporting activity, or even drive or enjoy the flowers in the park.
Good posture also makes you look more confident, can help your self-image and self-esteem, and allows you to give a good first impression with strangers.
Bad Posture Affects Overall Health
Consequently, when you have bad posture, it affects more than just your spine. When you slump, you collapse your chest, make it harder to take in enough oxygen (which means you cannot properly oxygenate your body). When your body isn’t properly oxygenated, it won’t function properly.
You also change your gait by having bad posture. Slouching tends to make you “lean over.” Your weight shifts to the balls of your feet. Your knees now have to bear weight that they shouldn’t have to.
You stomp when you walk, leading with the foot in front of you. This creates a lot of compressive force on your leading ankle, knee, and can contribute to you collapsing your foot arch when you walk. This will cause ankle and foot pain, knee pain, lower back pain, and pain in areas you never thought of – like your shoulders and neck.
How To Improve Your Posture
There are a few simple ways to improve your posture and get your health back:
- Lay on your side when you sleep. Alternatively, lay on your back without a pillow under your head.
- Stand with correct posture. Stand with your back against the wall. Put your heels against the baseboard. Now, lift your chest until your shoulder blades touch the wall. Draw your abdominal muscles in and up – think about bringing them in under your rib cage. Imagine you’re holding a tennis ball between your chin and your sternum. If you have a tennis ball to practice this, use it. Now, pull your head back until it touches the wall. This is correct posture. Walk away from the wall, keeping your weight on your mid-foot and heels.
- Stretch-sit while driving. Get in your vehicle. Dig your butt into the seat. Lean forward slightly, Push down slightly on the seat with your hands but don’t lift your butt off the seat. Elongate your back and “hitch” your upper back onto the top of the seat. Now, relax. If you’ve done this correctly, you will have created traction on your back. You can sit in this position indefinitely and it will help realign your back and promote good posture.