Having a good posture drastically improves how you look, feel, and may even help in shaping your personality. Furthermore, a good posture has long-term benefits.
As such, it is important to attain and maintain a good posture whether you are sleeping, walking, sitting, or standing.
Posture is basically how you hold your body and there are of two kinds;
- Static posture: This is how you hold yourself while you are stationary (i.e when you are sleeping, standing, sleeping, etc).
- Dynamic posture: This is how you hold yourself while you are moving (such when walking, running, or bending to pick a load).
Some adverse effects of bad posture include; neck/shoulder/back pain, wearing of your spine making it more fragile, finding it harder to breathe properly, making it more difficult to digest food, misalignment of your musculoskeletal system, decrease in flexibility, and negatively affecting your balance as well as increasing your risk of falling.
Here are some tips and good practices to improve your posture;
- Try as much as possible to be mindful of your posture when doing your daily activities such as when walking or sitting.
- Strive to stay active as much as possible. You could opt for strength training or aerobics. You could also include yoga, stretching, or tai chi in your exercise routine.
- Endeavor to maintain an optimal weight. If you are overweight or obese, lose the extra fat.
- Opt for comfortable low-heeled shoes as high-heeled shoes can throw off your balance.
- Endeavor to take breaks, at least every hour, if you sit for long while working.
Below are effective ways to improve your posture;
1. Don’t Cross Your Legs While Seating
Although this position makes women look elegant and sexy, it poses many health risks. While most of us cross the legs unconsciously, it leads to increased pressure from one side of the body, thus, causing lower back pain. Crossing your leg can make your legs numb or cause nerve paralysis. Also, the blood pressure, in your legs, could rise increasing the chance of developing varicose veins. The rule of thumb is to keep your feet rested flat on the ground. However, if you feel uncomfortable in this position, simply prop your feet on a stool.
2. Avoid Hunching Your Back When Using The Computer
When you hunch your upper back and shoulders, it can affect your posture. This is a common habit of people who sit for long hours in front of a computer. According to fitness experts, hunching your back can lead to stiffness of the back and shoulder muscles. So when working on a computer, make sure the monitor is at eye level to avoid slouching forward. Additionally, don’t cradle your phone between the ear and shoulder to avoid straining your neck muscles.
3. Wear Low-Heeled Shoes
High-heeled shoes can take a toll on your spine, ankles, knees, hips, and feet. When you wear 4-inch heels, the weight of the body rests on the toes putting a lot of pressure on one point. Also, the hips roll forward which weakens the back and legs. Furthermore, such shoes harm your ankles which can affect the body balance. To maintain a good posture, make sure your shoe heels are no more than 2-inches high.
4. Practice Yoga
Yoga exercises help to improve strength, flexibility, and balance. When you practice yoga on a regular basis, your body will get strengthened, and your spine would straighten itself.
An effective basic yoga pose you should practice is the mountain pose (Tadasana). For this pose, stand straight with your toes touching each other and your heels slightly apart. Then sway back and forth. Eventually, reduce the swaying to a standstill while balancing your weight evenly on both feet. After that, lift the knees and pull them to your lower belly. Press your shoulder blades into your back, then widen them across and release them down your back. Hold the position for 30 seconds and breathe deeply.
Other exercises that can help you improve your posture include cat-cow pose, tree pose, standing forward pose, cobra pose, downward-facing dog, bow pose, and warrior pose.
5. Sleep On Your Back
When we’re asleep, we may not consciously maintain a particular posture. However, you can get used to it with time. When you sleep on your back, you not only support your spinal cord but also support your shoulders. When your spine is not in a neutral position, you strain your back, muscles, and joints. To ensure you give your body the right support, use a nice mattress. Besides that, make sure you place a comfortable pillow beneath your head. If you’re experiencing some pain in the lumbar region, you should place at least two pillows under the knees.
6. Always Walk Tall
Incorrect walking or standing can lead to poor posture. It can also cause other problems like joint stiffness, achy muscles, and fatigue. That’s why you should walk tall by elongating your body, keeping your eyes up, and balancing the weight of your body evenly. Ideally, you should keep your eyes focused three meters ahead to align your neck and supply more oxygen to the muscles. You can try to practice walking on the sand, with a board on your head, until you master this walking posture. Also, avoid hanging on one hip or slouching when walking because it can lead to muscle imbalance.
7. Strengthen Your Core
The core stabilizes the spine, pelvis, shoulders, and ribs. So, the stronger your core, the healthier you’ll be. A strong core will also give you a good posture and improve your athletic performance. Some of the moves that will improve your core strength include neutral spine lying down, long leg lifts, prone hold, horse stance, plank pointer, among others. Some studies have also linked core strength to more sex fun.
8. Take Regular Breaks
Staying in the same position for long hours is not healthy for your neck and back. Not only that, such habit reduces the blood flow to your muscles causing fatigue. To create an ergonomic working environment, you should take a break. You can stand up, walk around, stretch a bit or do some calf raises for five minutes. In fact, you don’t have to take long breaks. Just make sure you get up and walk around a minute or two every hour. If you tend to be engrossed in your work that you forget to take frequent breaks, you should set a reminder on your phone.
9. Use A Lumbar Support Pillow
If you have a tendency of slouching forward when sitting for long periods, a lumbar support pillow can be of great help in supporting your spine. This pillow is specifically designed to support your lower back forcing you to sit in the correct position. You can use it on your office chair or when driving for a long distance.
10. Improve Your Driving Posture
When you’re behind the wheel, you should be able to push the pedals without bending your neck or back. Make sure the headrest and the car seat are in a safe position to promote comfortable driving.
11. Breathe Properly
There is a relationship between how you breathe and how you feel. With this in mind, you should learn how to breathe especially when you’re on the move. You should try breathing exercises that target the core, spine and waist muscles. Learn to breathe with your diaphragm to give your body a good posture.
12. Download Reminder Apps
If you are so engaged in your work that you forget to sit or stand properly, you can use some applications to keep an eye on your posture. For instance, “stand up!” app would remind you to take a break after sitting for a long time. There are many apps for androids and iOS that can help you intermittently break your sitting habit and improve your posture.
13. Place Your Arms At 90 Degree Angle
In the office, we often work with our arms in the front. This way, the chest, arm and shoulder muscles are stretched which can result in pain. For this reason, you should keep your arms at a 90-degree angle to prevent neck and shoulder pain. This means you have to use the right chair.
14. Lift Weights
Weight lifting helps to strengthen the muscles. You should perform some resistance training exercises that target the abdominal muscles, the back, shoulders, and the core muscles. Furthermore, weight lifting exercises can prevent bone-thinning disease (osteoporosis) which is usually a hallmark of old age.
15. Increase Vitamin D Intake
This essential vitamin helps to maintain strong bones and muscles. You should consume foods rich in vitamin D such as eggs, sardines, tuna, shrimp, fortified cereals, and orange juice. Alternatively, take vitamin D supplements as directed by your healthcare provider.
16. Loosen Your Muscles After Waking Up
Even if you use the right sleeping position, you should rotate your shoulders and stretch your back, especially when you wake up in the morning, to keep your posture in check. Such simple exercises would also increase your heart rate, increase your flexibility, and, most importantly, energize your body making you more alert.
17. Find Correct Way To Lift Bulky And Heavy Objects
If your job involves repetitive tasks like bending and lifting, ask your employer to advise you on the best ways of carrying heavy loads to avoid back injury. When lifting objects from the ground, make sure you’re bending the knees, not the waist. Also, you should distribute the weight of the load on both sides of your body.
Besides improving your core stability, swimming can strengthen your back to enhance your posture. It also strengthens your shoulders and opens your chest muscles. If you want to reverse the adverse effects of the long stretches you spent on your computer, you can try the backstroke style, butterfly, or breaststroke style.
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