If you’re like most people, you haven’t spent much time thinking about your posture since you were little and nagged to stand or sit up straight. The fact is, most of us are tied to our desks for most of the day and don’t give posture a second thought until something hurts. And with over 31 million Americans experiencing back pain right now, it’s clear that good posture matters.
At Peak Physical Medicine in Visalia, California, our compassionate care team understands the important role good posture plays in maintaining your overall health. Our team evaluates posture-related problems and creates customized treatment plans to help our patients improve their posture and health.
But we know that prevention is the best medicine. That’s why we’ve curated this useful guide to help you better understand that if you improve your posture, you’ll improve your health. Read on to learn more!
What is good posture?
The easiest way to understand what constitutes good posture is to think of it as having a neutral spine. In other words, with good posture, the muscles that surround your spine distribute the work to support your body equally, and all remain in a state of balance, or neutral.
When you’re seated and using good posture, your feet will be flat on the floor, your back straight, and your weight will be evenly distributed to both hips. Your shoulders should be relaxed and back, and your head should be straight and not leaning forward.
Good posture when standing is almost the same as seated posture, but your weight will be distributed evenly on both feet instead of your hips. In addition, it’s important to keep your knees slightly bent to avoid hurting the joint.
Why is good posture important to my health?
Good posture plays an important role in your health because it involves body systems crucial to your wellness. Making a conscious effort to improve your posture can make a big difference in how you feel inside and out.
The benefits of good posture abound. Here are our top five reasons good posture is important to your health:
1. Strengthen your core
The muscles in your core — your tummy, hips, back, and pelvic floor — have an important job when it comes to your health. Core muscles not only stabilize your spine, but also provide the foundation for movement. When you practice good posture, you engage your core muscles. In fact, exercising good posture can be more effective than yoga or Pilates! And when your core is strong, you’ll avoid many problems associated with a weak middle, like lower back pain.
2. Healthier bones and joints
Having good posture means your spine is aligned, and your muscles are being used correctly. This decreases stress on your bones and joints. This is especially important because as you age, the discs in your joints begin to wear down and become smaller. The result? Pain and stiffness and other more serious conditions, like arthritis and disc herniation. Good posture decreases abnormal wear-and-tear, helping you keep your bones and joints healthier, longer.
3. Breathe easier
It may not seem intuitive, but the way you sit and stand can have a big impact on how well you breathe. This is because your lungs, which are comprised of soft tissue, are surrounded by unforgiving bone. When you use good posture with your spine straight and shoulders back, you open up space for them to expand and contract more efficiently, helping you breathe easier.
4. Fewer headaches
The tension headaches you get from work might actually be caused by bad posture. Poor posture puts undue strain on your neck and head. In fact, poor posture — especially when seated at a desk — usually results in your head resting too far forward.
This makes the muscles in your neck and upper back strain and stretches your spinal cord and nerves. This creates compression and tension headaches. The good news is that by adjusting your posture, you can alleviate this compression and reduce the frequency of headaches.
5. Improved mood and increased energy
Numerous studies have demonstrated a link between good posture, improved mood, and increased energy. They all point to the same basic fact: Your posture influences your emotions and thoughts. And the same is true in reverse. In other words, slumping or slouching facilitates negative thinking and sleepiness while standing in a powerful, upright stance boosts positive, empowering thinking and more energy.
Ready to learn more about improving your posture and health?
If you’re struggling with back or joint pain, the team at Peak Physical Medicine can help. To learn more about improving your posture to improve your health, contact our Visalia office to schedule a consultation, or request an appointment online now!