If we look closer at what happens to the body when we assume a poor posture, we find the following:
- forward head posture (you poke your chin out more forward than it should be)
- rounded shoulders and rounded upper back
- weak core muscles
- tight chest muscles
Good posture means your bones are aligned properly, and your muscles, joints, and ligaments are working effectively. Good posture also gives our internal organs room to function properly. For example, when you are always slumped over, your lungs can not expand to their full capacity. Good posture also helps your nervous system to function better. The long term effects of poor posture are numerous and can effect digestion, elimination, breathing, muscles, joints and ligaments.
Here are some things to keep in mind when checking your posture. When standing, hold your head high, chin slightly forward, shoulders back and down, chest out, and stomach tight. If you stand all day at work, rest one foot on a stool or take breaks to sit occasionally. When sitting, use a supportive chair with good low back support. If you are working at a table or desk, it should be elbow height, allowing elbows to rest at 90 degrees. Your computer screen should be at eye level so you don’t have to look up or down to see the screen. If necessary, use a foot rest to keep your knees supported around hip height. If you sit long hours for work, ensure you get up to stretch frequently. This can be as simple as standing up and rolling your shoulders, or taking a walk to the printer.
Other things you can do to help your posture and overall health: ensure a healthy body weight, exercise regularly, eat a well-rounded diet, invest in a good mattress and pillow, and be conscious of your work environment and the set-up of your work space.
One type of exercise that is ideal for helping with posture is yoga. Most people don’t realize the multitude of health benefits yoga has to offer. Here are just some of the benefits for the mind and body:
- Increased range of motion
- Improved flexibility
- Improved agility or ease of movement
- Better posture
- Increased core strength
- Improved body awareness
- Reduced stress
- Beneficial to the respiratory, lymph, immune, digestive, and circulatory systems of the body
by Stephanie Brown, Registered Physiotherapist