Perfect Posture and Tips to Achieve
A persons posture relates to the position the body is held against gravity whilst standing upright, sitting and also while they are lying down. Most of us can probably recall a time in the past where we have been told to “sit up straight” by a teacher while slouching in a classroom chair, or being ordered to “walk properly!” whilst following our parents around a supermarket. At the time you may have considered these requests as nothing more than just pointless nagging, but did you know that a person’s posture can have many implications for both our bodies and lifestyle?
So how do you identify whether you have good or poor posture?
Well poor posture consists of more than just being slightly hunched over when stood up or slouched when sitting down; instead it is the result of these of bad habits as a collective that we pick up when carrying out day to day activities. The impact of these bad habits can be intensified particularly if an individual engages in daily repetitive motions or regularly maintains a certain position for prolonged periods of time. Problems can occur when our bodies are forced to compensate for these activities/ habits, as it can throw our bodies out of their natural alignments. This can lead to our bodies using a lot of excess energy or even becoming damaged, which can then cause muscle and joint pain.
Despite what some people may think, a good posture does not necessarily mean keeping our backs straight. In fact, good posture actually involves maintaining the two natural curves in your back, both the concave curve from the base of our heads to our shoulders, along with the natural concave curve from our upper back to the base of the spine. A good posture allows our bodies to distribute weight evenly either when stood up or seated and it should feel almost effortless to maintain this position.
How else does a good posture benefit you?
Carrying out activities with the best posture possible allows our bodies to be more efficient, it enables our bones, muscles and joints to work in tandem whilst in their most optimum positions. This therefore helps to eliminate the damages that poor posture causes, as it reduces the excessive usage of muscles and wearing of joints. Another benefit is that it can allow our bodies to breathe more freely, increasing the levels oxygen to the brain and muscles, meaning that good posture can help increase both mental and physical performance. A maybe less considered benefit of good posture is the positive affect it can have on an individual’s appearance because not only does it give off the impression good health but of confidence too.
So is there anything we can do to improve our posture?
There are many basic activities that can be carried out to help us naturally maintain a good posture, the first and probably most important is to remember to regularly stretch. Stretching helps us to loosen up any stiff joints and muscles that may not have been used by our bodies for a long time and therefore aids to restore balance. So whether it’s just after you wake or before a work out, REMEMBER TO REGULARLY STRETCH, you could even give Yoga a try!
But stretching isn’t the only answer; there are also a number of strength exercises that we can carry out to ensure that our posture isn’t negatively affected by a muscle deficiency in certain areas of our bodies.
Planking can be used to increase an individual’s core strength and involves building the muscles in both the abdominal region and back, to increase stability, posture and overall strength.
How to perform:
- Get into a press up position
- Bend and rest on elbows so forearms are facing forward
- Maintain this position for as long as possible ensuring that your body is as naturally straight as possible
Single leg extensions
Single leg extensions can be used to align your hips with the rest of your body. It does this by working both the core and pelvic muscles together.
How to perform:
- Lie on your back and extend legs out
- Without lifting your lower back off the ground, lift one leg up to about a 90 degree angle
- Hold this position for a few seconds and repeat with other leg
- Alternate between the two legs for desired amount of reps
Despite being very challenging for some, Pull ups are one of the most effective ways to maintain good posture. In addition to building back muscles (along with many others as well), Pull ups help to reverse muscular imbalances caused by overusing certain muscles or under your back.
How to perform:
- Grab hold and hang off a bar with hands slightly wider than the width of your shoulders
- Pull yourself up until the top of your head is above the bar whilst maintain control against your body a legs swinging.
- Once at the top, lower yourself in a controlled manner until arms are almost extended again and then repeat.
The Bridge exercise is another that incorporates working more than on muscle at the same time. This exercise helps build strength in your hips and lower back.
- Lie on your back, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Thrust your hips to the whilst keeping your arms flat on the floor or supporting your body to make it easier.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds.