The days of balancing books on your head and walking in a stately manner around the room while balancing on high heels are long behind us.
Instead, we’re all seeking out how to make good posture a habit in our everyday lives!
There are lots of different ways to incorporate awareness of your posture and new movements and motions into your daily routine. These little differences add up in big ways when it comes to correcting your posture.
Better posture leads to less pain as well as better movement and a greater range of motion for many people.
Correct your posture and seek to make good posture a habit to improve your whole life.
We’ve brought together some information about good and bad posture as well as hints on how to make your posture better in the long run!
The Importance of your Posture
Posture isn’t all about looking elegant although that’s a definite benefit of good posture!
There are some genuine health benefits of good posture.
Your posture affects your health in a large number of ways and the most impactful is the improvements you’ll see in your spinal health. When you sit or stand with correct alignment, you’re improving your blood flow and keeping your blood vessels healthy.
This better posture will also strengthen and support your muscles, ligaments, and tendons resulting in less neck and back pain. With less neck and lower and upper back pain, there’s much less reason for you to head to the doctor or chiropractor with chronic pain.
The way you hold your body is also a big factor in the way your muscles and joints function.
When you improve the way you sit and stand, you teach your other core muscles and joints to work better together, supporting one another along the way.
Improperly sitting and standing results in stress on your joints leading to osteoarthritis.
Believe it or not but your posture also impacts your digestion. Slouching or sitting improperly can put stress on your digestive tract resulting in issues like acid reflux and constipation.
Your posture, good or bad, affects your overall health in several ways. Correcting or improving your posture can help you become healthier from top to bottom!
What Causes Poor Posture
Over time, bad habits like slouching and complete inactivity cause your muscles to become fatigued and that leads to poor posture.
This bad posture leads to your muscles becoming fatigued and the slow and fast-twitch muscles function at a slower pace.
Your nervous system is also interfered with when you’re struggling against poor posture.
Poor Posture Over Time
Some serious long-term complications can arise from having consistently bad posture.
One of the biggest that people may deal with after some time is poor circulation.
Your bad posture plus a sedentary lifestyle will aggravate and make your circulation problems worse. This can also cause you to develop varicose veins.
Your lung function may also be impaired as your posture can keep you from getting the oxygen you need into your body. When you don’t sit or stand correctly, your organs may not get the right amount of oxygen as your lungs can’t expand the way they need to.
The alignment of your spine and the way you sit and stand can cause you to experience stress incontinence.
When you slouch a lot, you increase pressure on your abdomen which adds more pressure to your bladder.
This bad posture also weakens the pelvic floor making incontinence an issue over time.
Chronic constipation and heartburn are also long-term side effects of poor posture. Slouching makes it hard for your abdominal muscles to help you create an effective bowel movement.
This slouching can also put pressure on your abs moving stomach acid up and into your esophagus causing significant heartburn.
Back pain is also a major issue with bad posture so improving these habits will help you live a pain-free life in no time.
You won’t just see your confidence increase when you make your posture better, you’ll see long-term side effects seep away as you improve your posture over time!
The Habit of Poor Posture
You don’t wake up with poor posture! It happens over time and in lots of little ways. To address this as a habit, you need to make yourself aware of the way you hold your body in space and the way you sit throughout the day.
Take a moment to look at how your sitting or standing right now. Evaluate whether this is a good posture or bad and if there’s a way you can improve your body alignment right now.
Once you’ve evaluated the way your body is being held, take a moment to note how it can be improved. Push your shoulders back and make sure they’re relaxed.
Pull your abdominal muscles in to strengthen your core and keep your feet about hip-distance apart. When standing be sure that your weight is balanced evenly on both feet.
Stop what you’re doing several times throughout the day and evaluate your posture during these moments. This will give you a clear picture of where you need to improve as well as where you’re making good choices throughout the day.
Posture habits take months to reverse and weeks to build a new one in its place. Give yourself grace and forgiveness as you’re changing up your lifestyle!
What are the Best Ways to Improve Your Posture
There are lots of tips, tricks, and ready to buy trainers, that will help you keep your posture in check!
Some of the most effective ones though are those that can easily be retained as a habit without causing undue stress on your body.
Best Exercises for Good Posture
Several specific exercises will help you improve your posture and create a better habit over time. Keep in mind that being active in general is a great way to give yourself a habit of good posture.
This exercise is simple and helps you lengthen your spine, glutes, and hamstrings as well as release tension in your lower back and neck.
Start by sitting on your shinbones with your knees together and your big toes touching with your heels splayed out to the side.
Fold yourself forward at your hips and walk your hands out in front of you.
Sink your hips back down toward your feet.
Place your forehead on the floor, keeping your arms extended or letting them rest along your body.
Breathe deeply and relax in this pose for up to five minutes all the while continuing to breathe deeply.
This is a great option to help you relieve pain and stiffness while still seeking to strengthen your shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings.
Be on all fours then straighten your legs and lift your heels and hips.
Straighten your back and focus on engaging your abs, arms, and legs.
Lengthen the back of your neck softening your throat as you do so and then look down at the floor.
Hold this position for up to a minute.
Awareness is Key: Improving your Postural Awareness
Before you can solve a problem, you need to be aware that there is a problem and where the issue is located within your body.
Improving your postural awareness can help you make small changes and corrections throughout the day and in small increments.
Take time throughout the day to see where your shoulders are located, how your spine is bent or slouched, and where your knees are sitting in comparison to your abdominal muscles.
Once you see where your body is aligned you can make changes in small incremental ways.
Focus on breathing and keeping your body relaxed as you make these changes.
Get up from your desk or sitting area and be active in little spurts throughout the day. This activity will help you realign your body and make it easier to retain your new posture habit!
Sleep your way to Better Posture
Sitting and standing are the biggest places you’ll notice your posture being out of line. But if you want to change your posture and make it a good habit, you need to continue focusing on improvements even while you’re sleeping.
Be aware of how you choose to sleep. If you tend to sleep on your stomach, you’ll want to incorporate a flat pillow into your routine which will keep your neck and back in alignment while you snooze.
If you’re a side sleeper, you’ll want to support your lower back. Tuck a pillow between your knees for added support while you’re asleep. This will reduce the stress on your lower back and hips as well as reduce the chance of spinal misalignment during the night.
Change your Environment to Improve your Posture
There are lots of small changes in your environment that you can make that will help improve your posture! In conjunction with exercise and sleeping changes, you’ll be able to create a new habit of excellent posture.
Start by being sure that your bed and pillows are appropriately supportive.
This doesn’t mean that you need to head out and purchase a brand new bed. You can add a mattress topper or a board under the mattress to provide more support.
Your pillows play a big role in your posture as well so be sure that they’re appropriate to your sleep style so your spine and neck are always in alignment.
If you spend your day at a desk, make sure your desk chair is as supportive as possible.
You might find it cost-effective to go with a cheap desk chair that you found in a back closet or at a big box store but a heavy-duty choice with appropriate back support will help you achieve better posture and save you a trip to the chiropractor.
Choose shoes that give you the best support when you’re walking or standing. This may require some changes in insoles or shoes in general.
As wonderful as your new high heels may look, they’re probably not the best for a new habit of good posture.
Get active in small ways! Active lifestyles naturally build better posture and even if you simply get up and walk around, focusing on your alignment as you do so, you’ll find your posture improved over time.
The more active you find yourself to be, the better off your posture will be.
Frequently Asked Questions
Starting a new habit is a big undertaking!
Especially one as beneficial as realigning your posture so start by having your questions answered so you can start on your new venture with confidence.
What are the symptoms of bad posture?
It’s not all in your head!
Bad posture can show up in a multitude of physical ways like rounded shoulders and a potbelly. When walking or standing, you may also find that you’re bending your knees and your head may lean to the front or back instead of being straight up.
Many people with bad posture also experience chronic pain in the back and neck as well as muscle fatigue.
What does maintaining good posture feel like?
Good posture should feel “easy”. That means you aren’t straining to hold a pose or to move from place to place.
There should be no strain when you’re sitting or standing and no tension when moving from one position to another.
You’ll find you’ll sit up straighter than usual and stand taller when walking around.
Is it possible to correct years of bad posture?
Poor habits can lead to lasting damage.
While the damage may be done and may require corrective surgery, seeking to fix your poor habits is sure to do some good.
You may not be able to reverse the damage overnight but you’ll see improvements in your lifestyle. Fixing these habits may not fix the most serious of all your issues but they’re sure to help in the long run!
Your posture affects you more than you think! Everything from your spinal health, strength, to your ability to focus and be comfortable in bed, are affected by your posture.
Changing a bad habit to a good one takes time. The first thing you need to do is be sure that you’re aware of the problem.
Once you see your problem areas, you’ll be able to take appropriate action to correct and change the habit over time. But just like it takes time to create a habit, it takes time to undo one.
Give yourself grace and forgiveness as you through this process!
Fixing your old habits doesn’t stop when you go to sleep. Focus on making changes even when you’re sleeping so you’ll wake up refreshed and in alignment.
Take precautions to change anything in your environment and personal life that may be inhibiting your ability to change habits.
Choose shoes, chairs, and even pillows that keep you aligned throughout the day.
Becoming aware of your problem is the first step toward lasting change!
It’ll take time but the benefits you’ll see from improved posture will impact your life for a long time!
Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost