How often have you heard that good posture is crucial for your health? Maybe countless times, in a magazine, in a fitness video, in yoga, and also from your personal trainer. Every expert must have taught you several exercises to improve posture, right? But why?
Your posture defines how you sit, stand, and lie down. It is important to point out that your posture results from habits built over time, typically since childhood. If you observe your co-workers at the office, most of them hunch over their desks. This is a sign of having an improper posture.
Having a good posture has huge payoffs for your overall well-being. When you have a proper body alignment against gravity, the muscles around the spine balance themselves as a result of no significant strain. This helps in reducing the deterioration of supportive muscles and joints.
A good posture also makes you look confident with higher energy levels, but that is not all. It also brings flexibility, balance, and strength to the body, reducing stress on your muscles, ligaments, and the risk of injury.
Importance of Good Posture
It is said that your spine is the axis of the universe. Yoga, an ancient discovery for overall health, also highlights how important your spine is, thus making it a sacred part of one’s well-being.
As mentioned earlier, a correct spinal position helps you avoid stress on your supportive muscles and ligaments. Additionally, there are also other benefits of having a good posture:
1) Manages back pain:
Poor posture is a common risk factor that leads to neck, upper, and lower back pain. It affects over 25% of office workers every year. (1)
Hunching or slouching for a sustained period can put unnecessary stress on your discs, muscles, and ligaments, which causes stiffness and pain in multiple areas of your spine. Fixing your posture by sitting upright avoids extra weight on your spine, thereby reducing back pain significantly. (2)
2) Supports proper digestion:
Poor alignment of the spine, particularly slouching, is an unnatural position that negatively impacts your abdominal organs. Hunching over at your desk while working or stooping while looking at your mobile phone doesn’t support your body to digest properly.
Moreover, it can also cause acid reflux and constipation for some people. Something as simple as sitting straight or correcting your posture can relieve digestion issues.
3) Reduced headaches
People frequently tend to slouch or sit in an improper position when they have stress or tension and end up having tension headaches, one of the most common types of headaches. It is caused by muscle tension around the neck and upper back. (3)
Yoga poses or stretching is beneficial in relieving these headaches, although correcting your posture can eliminate these problems altogether.
4) Enhanced mood and creativity
When you think of the factors that impact your mood, they are likely to be your brain and the body. It is undeniable that these two go together – meaning they have two-way communication. Your mood affects your posture, and your posture affects your mood. (4)
A lightened-up person will be more likely to sit upright than an anxious, sad, or depressed person. Slouching is more predictable when you are feeling down. Therefore, be aware of your posture the next time you feel low, and try changing it to an upright posture. You might observe a slight boost in your mood.
5) Effective respiratory action
Hunching or stooping doesn’t allow the lungs to breathe effectively due to compression, which reduces respiratory function. A good body pose holds your lungs in a natural position, making it easier to breathe. (5)
Also, cardio exercises involving rapid breathing with proper posture can be a great addition to improved breathing as well as corrective posture.
How To Fix Bad Posture?
Poor posture not only affects your body and mind but also displays you as a less confident and active person. Fixing your posture is tremendously significant in all areas of life, making it a primary aspect of your health.
Sitting, standing, or lying down in a bad posture is caused mainly due to your lifestyle behaviors and habits. How you sit, stand, and sleep on a daily basis gradually affects your natural spine position. For instance, children who spend a lot of time playing games with a lean-forward posture are more likely to develop a slouching posture.
There are several yoga poses or exercises to improve posture. Some of them are:
1) Cat-Cow (Yoga exercise)
Cat-cow is a standard warm-up exercise to start your yoga or any workout routine. This pose is said to improve posture and balance. It also stretches and massages your entire spine by relieving your neck, shoulders, and torso stress.
1) Start with the all-fours position.
2) As you inhale, lower your abdomen as you extend your spine while slowly looking up.
3) Arch your back toward the ceiling and bring your neck closer to your chest as you slowly exhale.
4) Repeat this movement for about a minute or two.
2) Side Plank
Standard planks are performed in yoga as well as in a workout regime, which is an excellent way to improve your posture and strengthen all the major muscles. However, a side-plank is a variation of regular planks that effectively protects your spine and strengthens your core and obliques without hurting your back.
1) Lie on one side of your body with your knees bent.
2) Hold your upper body on your elbow, placed sideways, and raise your hips off the floor.
3) Engage your core and oblique muscles for maximum benefits.
4) Hold the position for 15 seconds and return to the normal position. Rest for 20 seconds.
5) Repeat this 3-4 times.
6) Switch to the other side and follow the same.
3) Cobra Pose
Cobra pose (Bhujangasana) is a yogic move that strengthens the extending back muscles of your spine, preventing slouching. It increases the overall mobility of the spine by opening the front part of your body, including the chest.
1) Lie down on your stomach with your entire body extended.
2) Place your hands underneath your shoulders, palms facing downwards.
3) Life your body up as you slowly inhale while keeping your low ribs on the floor.
4) Keep your neck slightly upwards or neutral.
5) Slowly return to the beginning position and repeat the movement twice or thrice.
4) Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Another effective yoga pose is the child pose, also known as the resting pose. It is generally done at the beginning of any yoga routine. This pose gently stretches your spine, hips, thighs, and ankles.
It is also an energizing pose that balances your posture by releasing tension as you connect with your breath inwardly.
1) Rest on your knees by placing your buttocks on your heels.
2) Bow forward by extending your arms in front of your head.
3) Touch your forehead to the ground and hold the position for 30 seconds.
4) Focus on your breath as you hold this pose.
5) Get back up using your hands and repeat the same twice.
5) Dead Bug Exercise
This exercise is a safe and excellent way to strengthen your low back muscles, core, glutes, and legs. It helps stabilize your posture by bringing balance and coordination, thereby relieving back pain.
1) Lift your arms and legs so that your hands are directly above your shoulders and knees above your hips.
2) On a slow exhale, extend your left leg downwards and your right arm upwards simultaneously. Make sure your lower back is touching the floor.
3) Bring them back up steadily on a slow inhale.
4) In the same way, slowly exhale and extend your right leg and left arm together.
5) This is one rep. Do the same for 5-6 reps and rest.
Improving your posture can be the starting step to start your healthy lifestyle journey because it holds a great significance in every area of life – education, sports, or any daily activity.
The modern workplace doesn’t promote much movement, and sitting for long periods can damage your health, particularly physical health. Nevertheless, you can improve your health by being aware of your everyday habits and fixing your posture consciously every moment.
Learning to correct your posture can pay off really well throughout your long life, from avoiding injuries and strains to reducing pain and stiffness of your spine.