The concept of "poor posture" versus "proper posture" is hardly a new phenomenon. In a society designed to sit, it's a pretty hot topic that comes up regularly- especially in the workplace. Ask anyone, and they'll likely freely admit to you that they have "bad posture"… but like…. do they reaaaally?
I've been writing about different ways to fix posture issues and create good habits for almost two years now, but I haven't really taken much time to dig into how to identify what posture even is. Sometimes it's the things that seem so simple (like posture) that are the most difficult things to articulate. Today we are diving headfirst into posture!
What is Posture?
Posture is the position we hold our bodies in while standing, sitting, or lying down.
Proper posture is the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity.
If we have NO Posture, we would literally just fall to the ground.
Poor Posture is when specific muscles tighten up or shorten while others lengthen and become weak, which often occurs as a result of our daily activities or repetitive habits. Such as but not limited to hunching over a computer for 8-10 hours at a time... sound familiar?
Usually, we do not consciously maintain healthy posture -specific muscles do it for us, and we don't even have to think about it. Several muscle groups, including the hamstrings and large back muscles, are super, super important in maintaining good posture. While the ligaments help to hold the skeleton together, these postural muscles, when functioning correctly, help us fight gravity and stay upright. Postural muscles also maintain our posture and balance during movement.
- It helps us keep bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing the wearing of joints that could result in degenerative arthritis and joint pain.
- Reduces the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the possibility of injury.
- It allows muscles to work more efficiently.
- It helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and back and muscular pain.
So- if you're worried you may have "poor posture" take a break and do some quality stretching, go for a little walk, or at the very least change the position you're holding.
Risks of Poor Posture:
Poor posture can lead to excessive strain on our postural muscles. It may even cause them to weaken when held in certain positions for long periods. For example,- people who bend forward at the waist for a prolonged time in the workplace. Their postural muscles are more prone to injury and back pain from overworking specific muscles and letting other muscles weaken.
Several things can contribute to poor posture--most commonly, stress, obesity, pregnancy, weak postural muscles, abnormally tight muscles, and high-heeled shoes (sorry friends). Also, decreased flexibility, a poor work environment, incorrect working posture, and unhealthy sitting and standing habits can contribute to poor body positioning.
Correcting Poor Posture: Myth or FACT?
I mean, yes… of course you can correct poor posture! We are in the business of supplying people with the tools needed to do that.
Remember, however, that long-standing posture problems will typically take longer to address than short-lived ones, as often the joints have adapted to your long-term poor posture. Conscious awareness of your own posture and knowing what posture is correct will help you consciously correct yourself. With much practice, the proper posture for standing, sitting, and lying down will gradually replace your old posture. This, in turn, will help you move toward a better and healthier body position- and when you feel good in your body, you feel good for the rest of your life.
How do you sit properly?
- Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest, if they don't reach the floor. This helps the blood flow correctly and can help prevent swelling in the legs and feet.
- Don't cross your legs. Your ankles should be in front of your knees. When we cross our legs, we tend to lean to one side and knock our alignment off.
- Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.
- Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips to keep your hips open and stop you from hunching forward.
- Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid-back or use back support- this will remind you to straighten up and keep your core engaged.
- Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground- a lot of us tend to have scrunch up in the shoulder area, causing unwanted tension and pain over time.
- Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods- the next posture is the best posture as they say. Staying active and moving keeps our backs and bodies strong and healthy.
How do I stand properly?
- Keep your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
- Keep your knees slightly bent- locking your knees can cause injury over time.
- Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. This distributes our weight evenly and takes the strain off our spin.
- Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of the body.
- Stand straight and tall with your shoulders relaxed- again preventing unwanted neck and shoulder tension.
- Keep your head level-your earlobes should be in line with your shoulders. Try not to push your head forward, backward, or to the side.
- Shift your weight from your toes to your heels, or one foot to the other, if you have to stand for a long time.
What is the proper lying position?
- Find the mattress that is right for you. Firm mattresses are generally recommended, some people find that softer mattresses reduce their back pain. Your comfort is essential, so choose whichever feels right for your own body's needs.
- Sleep with a pillow. Special pillows are available to help with postural problems resulting from a poor sleeping position.
- Sleeping on your side or back is more often helpful for back pain. If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs to help with hip tension. If you sleep on your back, keep a pillow under your knees, this takes a lot of pressure off your lumbar spine.
Just this week, I put a poll on our Instagram story (LINK TO IG) asking if people thought they had "bad posture." Perhaps not surprisingly- 100% of people said they felt they had bad posture. Let's give ourselves a break-even if maybe we feel like we're "bad" something doesn't mean we're "bad" is probably means we aren't sure how to fix it, and we're here to try and help!
If having poor posture is such a collective human experience, why do solutions and tools feel scarce? Why are our bodies such mysteries to us? And (perhaps the biggest question we have) why oh whyyyy is it not higher on our priority list when considering our health and well being?!
The first step to solving a problem is having an excellent understanding of what the end goal should be, and I think when it comes to achieving proper posture, we aren't always aware of what that means in the first place- but hopefully, now we are a few steps closer.
Do you still have hesitations about what good posture means and whether or not your posture needs a makeover? Please drop us a comment or send us an email at email@example.com