Good posture is important for good health. And I am sure we’ll agree that health is indeed wealth. But besides physical health, your posture can also have a bearing on your emotional health.
I, like millions of people, spend a lot of time at the computer these days as my work requires it. Although I do spend a lot of time outdoors, I still have a problem sitting for hours. A few months ago I saw an infographic that talked about how sitting kills, and started practicing standing for at least an hour or two every day while using the PC. And of course my Mom’s constant reminder about sitting straight always rings in my ears.
If you, like me, tend to end up sitting slumped or slouched in your chair, you know how it feels. The unexplained aches and pains all have to do with bad posture. Now wait – it isn’t as though I actually have bad posture. But I find that sitting for hours makes me slouch without being aware of it.
Why maintain good posture?
Here are seven good reasons to be conscious about posture:
• Your brain works better
• You breathe better
• You concentrate and focus better
• You look better
• You feel more self-confident
• You increase your self-esteem
• You enjoy better health
• You look younger
Bad posture can be painful – in more ways than one. Besides earning nicknames that stick forever. We used to call a friend Sloucho Marx because he always slouched. I swear, to this day, we refer to him by this name. I am also guilty to admit that most of us have forgotten his real name.
Over a period of time, bad posture raises your risk of chronic backache, affects your blood circulation and worse still – puts you at risk for a slipped disc. This can be excruciatingly painful. It is also responsible for:
• Low back pain
• Frequent headaches
• Shoulder and neck pain (oh I need a neck rub, someone!)
• TMJ dysfunction
• Change in breathing patterns
• GERD (acid reflux)
• Risk of injury
• Tissue wear and tear
• Low oxygen and blood circulation to the brain
• Muscle tension
• Stiff joints
• Inadequate lung function
Enough said. Let me such say that bad posture stresses your body out in a big way, gradually damaging muscles, ligaments and joints and makes life miserable.
Signs of bad posture
Good posture keeps your hips and pelvis level, your head up , your jaw relaxed, back straight, shoulders low, relaxed and even, relaxed abdomen, buttocks tucked in and knees gently flexed. This happens naturally with most people. But for some, it does not. You can recognize bad posture when you see an abdomen and neck that stick out, knees that extend outward, uneven shoulders, a curved spine, a chest that appears sunk and uneven hips – you get the idea.
|Right and wrong posture
(Image courtesy tapestryliferesources.com)
Good posture – better than Botox
That’s true. Besides determining your bone health, good posture also keeps you looking younger over the years. Also, think of the money you’ll save by not having to go in for a facelift! Granted that people tend to stoop a bit as they age, but the good news is, you can prevent a permanently bent spine as a result of osteoporosis and damaging vertebrae in the upper and middle spine.
But let’s think positive, shall we? Without further monologue, here are ten things I’ve learned – that help maintain good posture and keep you standing tall – no matter how old you are:
If you spend time at the computer, stay flexible by getting up for just a couple of minutes every half an hour and walk around, stretch or just stand. Remember to wear supportive footwear. I recommend rotating your shoulders, five anticlockwise and five clockwise movements. Sitting for hours at the computer is not attractive.
Exercise helps you prevent injury and improve your balance while helping your posture. Twice a day, maybe once in the morning and once at night, lie flat on the floor. Then with arms stretched perpendicular body, slowly move them making snow angels. Do this for two or three minutes. This will also improve your flexibility. You can feel good in ten minutes.
|making a snow angel|
• Sit straight
You know, while always sitting straight may sound like a pain, it is easy when you’re conscious about it. You actually feel more comfortable that way. Also make sure you have good seating arrangements so that you sit properly at the computer.
• Focus on your core
Core strength matters. A strong core, where you build the muscles of your abdomen and pelvis is critical because these are the muscles that actually help you maintain good posture. There are also other health benefits to strengthening your core.
• Say Om sweet Om
Yoga besides being a great way to strengthen your core and muscles also helps increase your body awareness and maintain flexibility.
• Support your spine
The muscles around the spine tend to weaken with age, particularly in women undergoing menopause or after menopause. (By the way, men also go through menopause. Exercises that target the back, neck, pelvic and side muscles will help. There are spine strengthening exercises that make it easier to stand for hours without developing a pain in the back.
• Take up weight bearing exercises
This will help prevent that hump from forming on your upper back due to weaker bones as you grow older. You can avoid this by walking, lifting weights and climbing stairs (oh, my knees!)
• Get your vitamin D quota
When we’re talking about bone strength and posture, it is naturally important to talk about Vitamin D, which is critical to bone and muscle health. While most of us get Vitamin D from sunlight and our diet, some may need supplements.
• Adopt a healthy diet
Get enough calcium and other vitamins and minerals in your diet. Make healthy eating personal.
• Consult your doctor
You may need prescription medication if you have low bone density or osteoporosis.
|Image courtesy: chiropracticall.com|
Posture – not just about physical health
According to a recent study published in the January 2011 issue of Psychological Science about “posture expansiveness” (using one’s posture to open up the body and occupy space), posture activates a sense of power in the mind, making people feel and behave as if they are in charge. The study found that posture is more important to a person’s sense of power than one’s actual job title or position.
So, while a high-power role can make you feel powerful, to act in charge, you need a high-power posture.
Good posture keeps you emotionally healthy and improves general fitness and performance. When you’re confident, you stand and “walk tall” When you’re sad or depressed, you tend to slump. When you slump, you develop aches, pains and become depressed. That vicious cycle need not happen to you when you practice good posture.
Here is how I energize my soul to make sure my body follows my mind.
- Boosting my confidence
- Fixing my energy leaks
- Nurturing my complete being
- Using my intuition
- Unleashing the power of my subconscious mind
- Being bold by letting go of fear
- Trying to let go of my bad habits and finding my passion
- Not worrying about business
- Practicing letting go to be happy. Miracles do happen all the time, you know.
- Making a Gratitude List
- Treasuring my present moment
- Holding on to the power of belief
- Striving to make lasting changes in my Life
- Consciously trying not to complain
- Trying to inspire others
- I know I can make it happen!
Now – I would love to know:
- How do you inspire yourself?
- How do you energize yourself?
- What fuels your self-confidence?
- How do you overcome fear?
I am eager to know your answers!