You might have been told to sit up straight by your parents or teachers when you were younger and simply rolled your eyes. The truth of the matter, though, is that posture is hugely important for a number of different reasons.
Why is having good posture so important?
There are many negatives to constantly slouching over or maintaining a rigid posture – and not just the health of our backs and spines. Experts suggest that good posture is also directly linked to1:
If you find yourself tensing the muscles in the back of your neck because your posture’s poor, it could lead to regular headaches. Try to stretch out your neck muscles and keep your head level when you’re sat down.
Having your head tilted forward too much when you’re sitting down can put a lot of strain on the muscles in your neck, shoulders and upper back. This could potentially lead to chronic muscle ache in the long run.
If you’re contracting your muscles and ligaments in the wrong way due to bad posture, they’ll have to work extra hard when you later need them for general movement. This could cause you to have lower energy levels and feel tired for no apparent reason.
If you regularly sit slumped over, chances are you’re compressing your lungs and restricting the amount your diaphragm can contract. This could affect your breathing over time and prevent your lungs from filling up with sufficient amounts of oxygen.
What are the signs of good posture?
The basic definition of having good posture is when your spine is in a neutral position – this means it’s not rigidly straightened, slumped over or overly arched. Your muscles should be supporting your spine yet not be tensed, while your shoulders need to be relaxed and your chin parallel to the floor. If you’re standing up, let your knees bend slightly so you don’t put excess pressure on your joints2.
Tips on how to keep good posture
If you’re worried about your posture and how it could impact your health in later life, it’s worth bearing in mind the following tips about achieving good posture.
Improving your posture when you’re sat down
If you spend a lot of time sat at a desk or lounging around on the sofa, it’s important that you3:
- Sit with your back straight and your shoulders back.
- Have your feet firmly planted on the ground.
- Bend your knees so they’re at a 90-degree angle.
It’s also a good idea to invest in an ergonomic chair if you’re working at a desk as it’ll support your back much more effectively. Remember to regularly stand up and walk around the room to improve your circulation, too.
Improving your posture when you’re standing
Whether you’re standing up on a train or queuing in a shop, it’s important to bear in mind the following4:
- Keep your weight on the balls of your feet.
- Don’t slouch forward or lean back.
- Have your knees slightly bent.
- Make sure your feet are firmly planted on the floor and are shoulder-width apart.
- Let your arms hang loosely at your sides.
Improving posture when you’re driving:
Commute to work in a car? Or maybe you’re in charge of the school drop off? While you might feel pretty comfortable in your vehicle, there are actually some essential things you should do to maintain good posture when you’re driving:
- Adjust the seat so your knees are higher than your hips when they’re bent.
- Make sure the seat is as straight as possible so you’re sitting upright.
- Have your shoulders back against the seat, not rolled forward.
- Ensure your headrest is adequately supporting the back of your head.
- Sit with your bum as far back as possible on the seat.
If you’re looking to improve your posture and maintain good bone and joint health, it might be worth taking a supplement such as glucosamine or cod liver oil. Always make sure you chat to a healthcare professional before taking extra vitamins as most people should be able to get the correct amounts through their diet alone.
Last updated: 29 April 2020
3 & 4 https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/patient/resource-centers/pain-workplace/expert-tips-maintaining-good-posture-throughout-day