Did you just sit up a little straighter?
We’ve all been told about the importance of good posture. “Sit up straight!” has been yelled at us with a hand on the lower part of our back gently pushing our spine back to an S shape. What most of us probably didn’t realise is just how important good posture actually is. For example, did you know poor posture can lead to hamstring strain? Many of us forget how interconnected the body truly is and poor posture can affect the whole body, even mentally.
Aside from the obvious ailments such as chronic neck tension/pain, lower back pain, headaches and migraines, poor posture can also lead to individuals being more susceptible to injury and can even cause stress and fatigue. This is because it takes the body a lot more energy to move a poorly postured body around, so even though you might think it feels better to have poor posture, just try sitting or standing up straight and after about two minutes you should feel a difference in your body.
With all that said, how do you actually get good posture? The best way of ensuring your body is in line and working at its optimum is to have a look in the mirror. You’re probably sitting down as you read this so make sure you’re sitting all the way back in your seat. This will automatically correct the worst of bad posture. Once that’s done, relax your shoulders away from your ears. If your elbows are resting on the armrest, try dropping your arms down, you should feel an instant relief in your neck. Your chair should be low enough to the ground for both your feet to sit flat on the floor without any unnecessary tension in your knees or feet.
But what about when you’re standing? Most people think standing up straight automatically means better posture. If only that was true! Good posture isn’t hard to achieve though. Imagine a line running from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head. Your body should be evenly distributed over this line so it should run through the middle of you. Let’s start at the top. The tip of your ears should sit back over the shoulders but not far enough back to put tension in your neck. Your chin should be parallel to the floor and your shoulders should be down and relaxed. Moving further down the body, your ribs should be elevated giving you a proud chest but not puffed up as this is bad for your back and makes you look silly. Your stomach muscles should be activated by being pulled in and taut (no, that doesn’t mean it should be hard to breathe.) The knees should be relaxed and slightly flexed (no locked knees) and the weight of your body should rest in the centre of your foot. Voila! you look like a ballerina. Okay, maybe not quite but it’s a good start to a healthier you.
While you might not think it’s making much of a difference, good posture is an important factor in overall health and well-being. If you start to consciously think about your posture, you’ll be pain free and feeling great in no time. Now sit up straight!
Julie works on behalf of Burswood Health, a Perth based company specialising in podiatry, chiropractic health and acupunture.