Why your posture is important and how to improve it

I found out this year that my posture, when I stand, is not as good as it could be!  Apparently I tilt my hips forward (because I am usually trying to hold my tummy in!) and this puts pressure on my lower back!  This revelation made me interested in posture and its impact on our health and wellbeing.

Posture is defined as the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting.  Poor posture is when the joints are not in their optimum or best position.  When posture is ideal, the forces of gravity are evenly distributed throughout the body.  This ideal state means that there is minimal wear and tear on your joints.

It’s never too late to improve

Being aware of your posture is the first step to improving it and it is never to late to do this. It could make a big difference to your over-all well-being.

The diagram shows three examples of standing posture.  The first two examples demonstrate poor posture and the third shows correct postural alignment.  The first picture shows someone with their shoulders rounded forwards.  This is a very common example of poor posture.  It is often the position we adopt when sitting at a computer or driving a car.  The second example shows the person with their pelvis tilted forwards which results in more pressure in the lower spine.   

The third picture shows correct posture.  You can see that the shoulders are over the hips,  and the hips are over the knees and ankles.

There are a number of reasons why so many of us have poor posture.  One is that it is habitual. We’ve just become used to being in that position and don’t notice there is a problem until a pain develops.  Other factors that lead to poor posture include, sitting too much, wearing high heels, obesity, pregnancy and lack of core muscle strength.

Your posture also has an impact on:

Breathing

If your shoulders are hunched forwards this has an impact on the diaphragm, your lungs and your ability to breathe properly.  Try relaxing your shoulders but making sure the chest is open and wide and take 2 or 3 deep breaths in and slowly release all the breath out.  This type of breathing has a calming effect.

Balance

Research indicates that good posture with your weight spread evenly over your feet is important in maintaining your balance.  Goods balance leads to less slips and falls.  If you feel you need to improve your balance try some of the exercises in this blog.

Digestion

If your posture is poor,  this can affect your digestion.  You internal organs may be under pressure because of the position of your body and this can cause indigestion (reflux) and constipation.  Think about how you sit when you eat and importantly how and where you sit afterwards.  Are you someone who sits down (slumps?) on the sofa after your main meal of the day?  Try walking around for a while after your meal, better still take a walk outside.

Wear and tear

If your posture is poor this means your joints are not in their best (optimum) position.  This can result in more wear and tear as you age as bone rubs on bone. Improving you posture and strength training exercise will help keep your joints in the best condition they can be.

What else can you do to improve your posture?

Well, learning Pilates might be part of the answer.  Of course I am biased as a soon-to-be Body Control teacher, but Pilates is all about the correct positioning of joints in order to complete everyday movements efficiently and well.  There is, of course, an emphasis on developing core strength, but total body awareness is also part of what you learn. The more aware you are, the more attention you will pay to how you are sitting and standing.

 

You may also be interested in

Why work on your balance?

Every day is a good day for Pilates

5 exercises that increase bone strength