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What is correct posture?
Posture is the position you maintain – essentially how you hold your body. Dynamic posture is how you hold yourself when you are moving, like when you are walking, running or bend over to pick up something. Static posture is how you hold yourself when you are not moving, like when you are standing, sitting, or sleeping.
You have correct posture when your position creates the least amount of strain on supporting muscles, ligaments and joints whilst standing, sitting, lying down or doing any other activity. The key to correct posture is the position of your spine. Your spine has three natural curves – at your neck, mid back, and low back. Correct posture should maintain these curves, but not increase them. Your head should be above your shoulders, and the top of your shoulder should be over the hips.
Correct posture not so common
As kids we are often taught and reminded of the importance of correct posture, however as we age we are less mindful of our posture (low postural awareness). Unfortunately, we live in a forward-leaning society – spending much of our time sitting – either in the car, on the train, at work on our desks all day, at school, on the couch or glued to our smartphones. The result being that most of us have poor or incorrect posture.
Why is having correct posture important?
*Decreases your chance of injury, muscle pain and other problems – by keeping your bones and joints in proper alignment, decreasing joint compression and allowing you to use your muscles more efficiently. This prevents muscle aches/strain and fatigue/overuse and is essential for avoiding neck, back and shoulder pain including headaches, as well as arthritis, spinal/disk problems and constricted blood vessels and nerves, as well as tendonitis and bone spurs. Good posture also increases your balance and decreases your chance of falling.
*Increases oxygen and helps all bodily systems to operate smoothly – breath is life, and good posture helps to open the airways and ensure proper breathing. Proper breathing allows enhanced oxygen flow to the nervous system, organs and other tissues, so that they all function effectively.
*Decreases stress and better mood – poor posture creates unnecessary stress and strains your body including your spine, which can make you feel heavy, achy, tired and irritable. It also decreases your digestion which is linked to your mood – did you know that more endorphins can be released from your gut than your brain? All of these things combined often lead to increased stress, anxiety and depression. Good posture on the other hand, stimulates physiological arousal, such as a spike in blood pressure, and triggers a coping response to stress. The result is increased resilience and better mood. This is common sense really, given that the body follows the mind, and the mind follows the body. Try it now – adopt a depressed mind-state by thinking of something that gets you down, and see what happens to your body. Now do the opposite with a super excited mind-state – what happens? Your body follows your mind, so you go from a closed posture to an open one. Next time you want to kick your negative mood, start with fixing your posture first.
*Helps you look and feel good – maintaining good posture helps increase your physical appearance because by avoiding slouching, you look taller, slimmer and stronger. The result being a more attractive, more comfortable and more confident you.
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