Maintaining proper posture behind a keyboard or checkout stand is likely the least important thought on our minds throughout arduous work days. Remembering to fix your posture can prove even more exhausting. It feels awkward and meaningless to the point we cease to care.
The essential habit of learning to sit and hold ourselves with proper posture can save ourselves from daily aches and pains. Making a habit of practicing good posture can even help prevent back, neck, and hip problems in the future.
What is good posture? How can you break the bad habit of sitting and standing in seemingly comfortable positions?
In this article, we are going to look at:
Your parents, teachers, and other adults often tell you to “stand up straight” as you grow. We are reminded to constantly “sit tall” and encouraged to hold our body in a way that is “good posture.”
While it may be exhausting (and even annoying) to be constantly reminded about good posture, its importance goes further than a simple recommendation. Posture, sitting and standing tall, and not slouching have effects on your whole body that could positively impact the development of your body over time.
Having good posture can help reduce muscle stress and tension. Holding yourself with appropriate form can keep your bones and joints properly aligned. When these joints aren’t aligned correctly, you can cause stress and tension in your muscles.
When you slouch, hunch your back, and sit incorrectly, your bones and joints can become misaligned. Slouched posture ends up putting more strain on your muscles throughout your back, shoulders, neck, and even other parts of your body, causing aches from increased tension on muscles forced to adapt to your positioning.
Sitting and standing with good posture provides your body the least amount of resistance and tension. When you “stand tall,” joints aren’t overexerted and muscles are given their fullest potential of healthy movement. Gravity is a strong force, and slouching adds extra strain on parts of your body that can cause back pain.
Stretching and standing can help decrease back pain, however, many stretches can do more harm than good. For a list of safe stretches that can accommodate various abilities, check out this great resource.
While sitting with good posture won’t “cure” your back pain, it can decrease the prevalence of experiencing worsened pain over time. Sitting and standing with the correct posture will help relieve muscle tension and tightness, which can help decrease back pain.
Believe it or not, good posture has an impact on a lot more than just your back, spine, and neck stiffness. Sitting tall helps open your chest and lungs, encouraging healthy circulation, a strong nervous system, and decreased back pain.
When you slouch, you “squish” your lungs, diaphragm, and even your intestines/stomach. This has implications on your whole body.
Your muscles require an abundance of oxygen to perform their functions properly. If you are slouching, it can have a direct impact on your breathing and lungs. Slouched posture can decrease the amount of oxygen in the rest of your body, leading to increased muscle stiffness.
Slouching also hinders your stomach and digestive system from being able to do their job effectively. Our bodies are designed to stand upright, so when we slouch or hold ourselves with poor posture, we inhibit our body’s ability to fulfill its role.
It’s easier to say than to do, but what does proper posture look like? Here are some examples of positive posture habits:
Good posture sounds daunting when you break down what you need to do to have the “perfect posture.” Ultimately, you need to do what feels best for your body.
When working to improve your posture, it should never hurt. You may be uncomfortable or feel unnatural after years of slouching, but pain should never be tolerated.
Take 30 seconds now and stand (or sit) with good posture. Stand/sit tall, focus on keeping your shoulders relaxed and down, keep your head level (ears over shoulders), and focus on keeping your spine stacked on top of itself.
Correcting your posture will take time and isn’t something you can fix overnight, but being aware and mindful is the first step.
In 2019, The Washington Post reported that adults in America sat for an average of 6.5 hours a day, while teenagers sat for over 8 hours a day. That means that we spend almost ⅓ of our time sitting every single day.
Sitting for that long every day makes it vital that we each learn to sit properly. As was previously outlined, there are many benefits of good posture. Posture influences your back, spine, neck, and even the rest of your body.
But, having good posture is hard, especially after years of slouching.
Here are a couple of tips on how you can break your slouching habit and develop good posture.
A tip we have found helpful is to set a timer to go off every couple minutes. Using a watch, set a reminder to intermittently inform you of a posture break.
When your watch vibrates or your timer goes off, remind yourself of good posture and go through the checklist of making your body's necessary adjustments.
You can personalize this and set your timer for every minute, 5 minutes, or 10 minutes to help you become more aware of your posture.
A huge part of developing good posture is to make it a habit. On average, it takes about 66 days to form a lasting habit. Using this little trick to help you remember your posture will help it become more natural as your form this into a common practice.
Because many of us have poor posture, some of our muscles aren’t utilized as often. This makes having good posture tiring, uncomfortable, and challenging.
Focusing on engaging your core can help you sit and stand tall with good posture.
Your core muscles are the muscles on the front of your torso. Having strong core muscles makes standing tall simpler, less uncomfortable and helps your whole upper body feel more stable.
Strengthening your back, shoulders, core, neck, and other muscles will make holding yourself upright that much simpler.
Most of us spend long days working at desks and staring at computers. When you constantly have to look down, hunch over, and bend your neck to see your screen, it makes having good posture difficult.
Something as simple as positioning your computer screen at eye level encourages a more natural adjustment to your neck and eye-line.
The power of a good chair can not be understated. Chairs with ergonomic features can promote more comfortable backs, necks, shoulders, and cores.
Chairs with support in the right places make sitting tall simpler and more comfortable. Chairs should be at the right height where you can have both feet flat on the floor.
8/10 people will experience back pain at some point in their life, and sitting with good posture can help decrease back pain and prevent the onset of future problems.
Proper posture also allows your respiratory and digestive system to work efficiently. Posture influences a lot more than just your back and spine.
Pains from improper posture are commonly treated and diagnosed here at Dickinson Neurosurgery. Some patients experience severe pains, while others report more mild discomfort. If you are experiencing back pain, we would love to schedule you for a consultation and answer any questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to call us!