Posture is one of those things you may not think about until you start having problems as a result of using improper form.
On the contrary, you may actually realize that you could walk a little straighter or stand a little taller, but certain not-so-healthy behaviors and patterns in regard to the way you move about can be extremely difficult to break.
Why good posture matters
One of the most notable reasons you should strive to have good posture is that your spinal column houses your central nervous system; therefore, if it is hunched over or somehow becomes impinged, you are likely to have physical issues, such as numbness and tingling in your extremities. Depending on the area of the misalignment, you could also experience problems with your gastrointestinal tract, your reproductive system, and pretty much every other system in your body. On top of that, you’ll also likely experience pain in your back, neck, or shoulder areas if you don’t regularly practice good posture techniques.
Additionally, a person’s posture not only says a lot about how they feel at that moment, but it can even affect their confidence levels according to one Ohio State study.1 For instance, someone that walks or stands with his or her back straight and head held high tends to have greater confidence and higher levels of happiness, whereas someone who walks with his or her head down and shoulders hunched often reports low self-confidence or depression.
The sad thing is, poor posture appears to start early in childhood. In fact, a 2007 study found that almost 40 percent of school-aged children had poor posture.2 Although this particular piece of research was conducted in the Czech Republic, chances are good that its findings apply to other areas of the world as well, which makes this issue extra concerning.
How you can fix your posture
Here are three effective postural fixes to consider:
- Conduct frequent posture checks. Make it a point to pay attention to your posture throughout various times of the day, thereby correcting it if necessary. A great way to remember to do this is by setting a reoccurring alarm on your watch or smartphone, reminding you to stand or sit with your back straighter and your shoulders back and down.
- Engage in regular chiropractic care. Engaging in regular chiropractic visits can help you gain and retain good posture, as properly aligned vertebrae make it easier to keep your back straight no matter what position you are in.
- Limit your use of small electronic devices. A study conducted by Kenneth K. Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, found that tilting your head forward just 15 degrees to use your smartphone or tablet places 27 pounds of pressure on your spine.3 Bend it 60 degrees and the pressure increases to 60 pounds. Thus, limiting your use of these electronic devices can often help you in regards to posture. At a minimum, at least hold them up closer to eye level so that you don’t strain your neck area.
Posture definitely matters to your physical and emotional health, and fixing it is possible with just a few lifestyle changes.
1 Ohio State University. “Body Posture Affects Confidence In Your Own Thoughts, Study Finds.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091005111627.htm. Published October 2009. Accessed May 2015.
2 Filipová V, Kratenová J, Malý M, Zejglicová K. Prevalence and risk factors of poor posture in school children in the Czech Republic. J Sch Health. 2007;77(3):131–137.
3 Hansraj KK. Assessment of stresses in the cervical spine caused by posture and position of the head. Surg Technol Int. 2014;25:277–279.