Bad posture and how to fix it

By August 24, 2016health
man slouching on chair

Standing tall is a great way to show your confidence, but it’s an even better way to improve your posture and overall health. The effects of bad posture can be painful and long-lasting. That’s why it’s so important to understand good posture and the importance of correct alignment.

What is posture?

Posture is defined as the way your muscles and skeleton hold your body upright. Basically, it’s the position of a person’s body when standing or sitting. It can affect the following basic functions of the body:

  • Breathing
  • Muscle growth
  • Mobility

Now you know what posture is, but did you know that it has a big impact on how you look and feel?

What are the symptoms of poor posture?

As we age, our years of bad habits – slouching, lack of exercise – can catch up in the form of bad posture. How do you know if you have poor posture? Here are some signs:

  • Rounded shoulders
  • Potbelly
  • Bent knees when standing or walking
  • Head that either leans forward or backward
  • Back pain
  • Body aches and pains
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Headache

What are the consequences of bad posture?

There is a lengthy list of health problems that you can experience if you have poor posture. These include:

  • Chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Foot, knee, hip, and back injuries
  • Headaches
  • Stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle atrophy and weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Digestion issues
  • Impingement and nerve compression
  • Sciatica
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

What can you do to improve your posture?

Lucky for you, there are several things you can do to improve your posture. Among them are:

  • Practice ‘curve reversal’ – for example, if you’ve been leaning over your desk one way, stretch back the other way to counter it.
  • Do stretching exercises two or three times a week to boost muscle flexibility.
  • Increase your muscle definition and tone up your body with regular exercise.
  • Take care of your neck muscles by stretching them. Turn your head from one side to the other.
  • Make your core and abdominal muscles strong enough to support your lower back by doing “crunches” instead of regular sit-ups.
  • Don’t stand on one foot for long periods of time. Switch up if you’re standing for a while.
  • It’s better for your posture if you cross your legs at the ankle instead of your knee.

How do you maintain good posture?

Once you’ve worked toward and established better alignment, there are things you can do to keep your posture good. Here are some of them:

  • Don’t sit in chairs that are too soft.
  • When you sit in a vehicle or regular chair, use a lumbar roll for support.
  • If you have to sit for long periods of time, sit in an ergonomic chair if at all possible.
  • Your mattress should be firm enough to keep your spine straight while lying on your side.
  • Buy a good pillow, one with adequate neck support.
  • Sit up straight, and lift with your legs, not your back when lifting heavy weights.