How many times have we heard ‘don’t slouch’, ‘pull your shoulders back’ and ‘you are stooping!’? Well for me, it’s umpteen number of times since growing up. As we grow up, we tend to ignore these prompts from our parents and well-wishers. The more comfortable a position, the better we find ourselves in control. And what is the upshot of that? Aches and pains due to poor posture. I know it too well as I have been fighting an ongoing battle with stooped shoulders and related headache.
Tight front body muscles and weak muscles at the back allow our bone structure to tilt out of position. The best way to correct posture is to strengthen the muscles that are ‘allowing’ the joints to stay in improper position and stretching the ones ‘pulling’ these joints into wrong position. Strengthening the core muscles (abdomen and pelvic) also boosts maintenance of correct posture. Balanced muscles on both sides of the spine support healthy body positioning.
Reasonable muscle flexibility and power, normal joint motion including that of the spine and mindfulness of posture at all times help maintain natural body stance. Here, I have compiled a list for you of body stance adjustments to attain better posture for overall feeling of wellbeing.
Health Issues from Bad Posture:
Bad posture can cause a lot of health issues either directly or indirectly. They can range from fatigue, stiffness, headaches, back, neck and shoulder pain, digestion issues, nerve impingement, sciatica, back, hip and leg joint injuries to muscle weakness. Maintaining proper posture avoids putting unwanted stress on unrelated muscles and thus minimizes bone joint erosion, muscle tension and ligament injuries.
7 Body Stance Adjustments for Better Posture:
Proper way to stand:
Imagine yourself trying to balance a book on your head. Keep your head pulled up, not leaning forward or tilted to the sides. Your ears should be in line with the shoulders. Straighten your spine, pulling it upwards. The toes should point forward and not rotated inward or in a duck-waddle position. If standing for long periods of time, place the feet shoulder width apart and keep shifting weight from one foot to the other and from heel to toes.
Ergonomic sitting posture:
Keep the shoulders relaxed and forearms parallel to the ground. There should be a 90 to 75 degrees angle at your elbow joint. Ensure sufficient support to your lower back, may be with a backrest. Back of knees shouldn’t touch the seat end. Keep ankles in front of your knees. Feet should rest on some support or the ground. All this might sound too cumbersome or technical but once you try it, it is a very comfortable position. With a bit practice and persistence, all the aches and pains related to spending most of the day at desk would subside. Get up, stretch or move about at regular intervals.
Correct posture for lying down:
Your mattress should mould itself according to your spine and offer it complete support. Use a pillow that keeps your neck aligned to the rest of your spine, not propped up or hanging down. Try to sleep either on your side or back. If sleeping on your side, place a pillow between your legs so that the muscles on the upper leg are not left in a stressful position. Stretch before hitting the sack to loosen up stressed muscles.
Right stance to lift weight:
The simplest way to avoid back injury while lifting something is to bend your body at the knees rather than at the hips. The leg muscles are better adept at offering support for such strains than stomach and lower back muscles. Before lifting something heavy, assume a squatting position lower than or as near the item’s level as possible. Keep your back straight. After grabbing the object, focus on straightening out your knee-joint standing up. You would feel pressure on the calf and thigh muscles.
Ideal walking and running posture:
While walking, keep the chin parallel to the ground and walk with the heel hitting the ground first, rolling the weight over to the toes. While running, lean forward slightly and hit the ground first with mid-foot rolling the weight over to the toes. The elbows should ideally be held at a 90-degree angle.
Ensuring healthy posture in mature age:
To help maintain balance and a proper posture even at a mature age, practice walking barefoot on sand or grass. The idea is to let our body adjust to altered balance conditions in a minimized injury setup. This not only offers very good exercise to the feet muscles strengthening them, they also help improve our brain’s balance perception for the body. To maintain a straight posture and avoid stooping with age, people should start working on their torso muscles in their late 40s. Nicely-worked lower back and shoulder muscles along with flexible chest and stomach muscles help maintain an upright posture even in advanced age.
To ensure a healthy posture at all times without having to put too much thought into it, a simple change in our way of life is required. The idea is to strengthen and stretch the right muscle groups and conditioning the mind to be better suited to correct posture. Simple stretching and exercises everyday can go a long way. Including yoga or Pilates in your regular workout routine would also be a good idea and offer variety in workout. Climbing stairs and power walking are two very simple yet effective ways to maintain good posture, health and sense of balance throughout our life.
Unhealthy sitting, standing and working posture, obesity and weak postural muscles are the main reasons behind unhealthy body positioning. The earlier we recognize the problem, the easier it is to rectify. Persistence, perseverance and mindfulness are the keys here. Maintaining proper body stance at all times doesn’t only indicate a positive personality but also adds greatly to our health and wellbeing.
How do you maintain proper body posture? Which is your favorite posture maintenance routine?
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