You’ve probably been told to “sit up straighter” since you were just a kid slouching over your cereal bowl. You may be reciting this mantra to yourself right now as you sit at your desk or on the couch trying not to round your shoulders over your laptop.
For most of us, posture is one of those things that we know is important but something that often takes the backburner when focusing on work or studies. We usually don’t consider precisely where our shoulders are in relation to our hips as we walk down the street laden with a laptop bag or an oversized backpack. It is easy to develop sitting or standing habits that can negatively affect your body in the long run. Here are a few reasons to straighten up and tips to help you regain that healthy stance.
You’ll feel more energized
Though it may often feel like the opposite when you want nothing more than to collapse into your chair to find a little reprieve as the workday comes to a close, sitting up straighter can actually send your energy levels skyrocketing.
The concept is simple: slouching forces your body to expend more energy to keep you upright while arranging your body in the most efficient position means you conserve energy and have less chance of fatigue.
You seem more confident
You know that feeling when you put on a new outfit and are having a great hair day and feel like you could conquer the world? Well, standing up straighter can have a similar effect. When you throw your shoulders back and hold your head high rather than trying to make yourself blend into the crowd, you ooze self-confidence and seem more self-assured. This can also give you a more commanding presence and make you more likely to speak up for yourself.
Your core muscles are engaged
There’s nothing like a good core workout. Especially when you don’t have to spend hours at the gym to get it in. Over time, good posture encourages your abdominal muscles to engage to support your lower back which can give you stronger abs and a more toned stomach.
You experience fewer joint problems
Continuous bad posture, whether you sit all day or merely walk in a hunched over position, can take a severe toll on your muscles, bones, and ligaments. It can lead to migraines, imbalanced muscles, and chronic neck and back pain. When you are mindful about the way you sit, stand, and move, your body can function as it is meant to with full support and fluidity.
You can breathe easier
When your body is properly aligned, your spine is doing what it is supposed to and supporting your chest and shoulders. This allows you to take deeper breaths that bring maximum oxygen into your lungs.
What good posture looks like:
According to Harvard Health Publishing, there are a few key things to watch when attempting to improve your posture
- Shoulders even (roll your shoulders up, back, and down to help achieve this)
- Neutral spine (no flexing or arching to overemphasize the curve in your lower back)
- Arms at your sides with elbows straight and even
- Abdominal muscles braced
- Hips even
- Knees even and pointing straight ahead
- Body weight distributed evenly on both feet.
- When sitting down, keep your chin parallel to the floor; your shoulders, hips, and knees at even heights; and your knees and feet pointing straight ahead.
Other tips for improving posture
Focus on mindful exercises: One of the areas where proper posture is most important is your daily workout. It can be easy to fall into dangerous habits as you get tired and your body begins to slump. Try taking mindful exercise classes such as yoga, Thai Chi, or pilates to really build up your core and get a good, clean form.
Get a good chair: If you spend a lot of time sitting down at your desk, it is essential that you have a comfortable chair to support your weight. Be sure to purchase a chair with lumbar support that allows your feet to rest fully on the floor.
Change driving habits: If you have a long commute to work or merely spend a lot of time in the car, it is vital that the position of your seat encourages good posture. Place a small rolled-up towel or lumbar pillow at the base of your spine to support your lower back and adjust your seat so that your feet can comfortably reach the pedals without your knees becoming cramped or stretched out.