“What’s Posture Have to Do with It?”
Good posture is an easy and very important way to maintain a healthy mind and body. Being in good general health, whether standing (or sitting) tall will also boost your self confidence.
When you practice correct posture, your body is in alignment with itself. This can alleviate common problems such as back or neck pain, headaches, and fatigue.
The most important thing about a good posture is that it is a dynamic posture. It should always be moving, at least a little bit. A static posture is pain and injury waiting to happen. In fact static positioning is a common torture method for self inflicted pain.
Good posture or proper alignment, while standing:
- Places your ears loosely above your shoulders and hips;
- A straight back, squared shoulders, chin up, chest out, stomach in, feet forward; and
- Your hips and knees are in a neutral position.
If you can draw a straight line from your earlobe through your shoulder, hip, knee, to the middle of your ankle … then you’ve got it.
Again, these points make a straight line, but the spine itself curves in a slight ‘S’. When your body is in alignment, it shouldn’t hurt. If you do experience pain, look at your side view in a mirror to see if you’re forcing your back into an unnatural position. If you do not have pain, then posture should not be altered, because this could cause other problems., such as, back and neck pain. It can sap your mood and energy levels.
When standing straight up, make sure that your weight is evenly distributed on your feet.
Even though you are constantly moving, there are some basic positions to keep a good posture. Those positions support the natural S-curve of the spine. The spine, with its many vertebrae, is a flexible support column for your upper body that’s kind of like s spring mount. It’s able to absorb a lot of force and strain due to its design, but if it gets out of the S-curve, the strain on your spine and can cause serious injury.
When you are sitting without any support for you back, you should sit up straight with your torso balanced over your hips. The height of your seat should allow your upper legs to rest parallel to the ground or slope towards the floor at your knees. You never want your knees higher than your hips.
A comfortable range for your leg to torso angle is 90-105 degrees. This keeps everything open so blood and fluid flows freely. Placement of the feet should be whatever is comfortable and positions should change periodically. If you are leaning back slightly or have a short back rest, then your feet should be flat on the floor in front of you. If you are leaning forward, then you can tuck them in underneath the seat.
What you are doing while sitting has a major impact on your posture and an equal impact on what a good posture is for that task. Chairs or other seating supports should be adjusted to support these good postures.
Working at a computer or typing is best supported with a slightly reclined sitting posture with the back at about 105-120 degrees from the floor. A full back rest on the chair supporting your lumbar and shoulder blades is needed. Also, a good set-up requires your hands, elbows and shoulders are not raised excessively and your head is at a comfortable angle.
Ensuring your muscles are strong enough to hold your body in a good posture is the next thing to consider. This is most often a consideration for those who are overweight or aging. If you are overweight, you are placing more stress on your muscles constantly and they will need to be strengthened to compensate. Excessive weight can also impact your posture.
The elderly benefit from strength training to maintain muscle mass and density which helps keep their posture in alignment. In general, everyone will benefit from a balanced strength training regime in terms of supporting good posture.
Train Your Muscles to Do the Work
Exercises that strengthen the muscles across your upper back and shoulders will help you to maintain good posture. You don’t need to develop a body builder physique – it’s more important to build “muscle memory” so that you unconsciously and naturally maintain correct posture without fatigue.
Common Posture Problems
- Do not hunch or roll your upper back. Keep those shoulders back, chin up and chest out. Also do not droop your shoulders.
- Do not tilt your neck to the side.
- Never lock your knees, or any of your joints for that matter.
- You should also avoid tilting your hips to the side while standing
- Try to keep from raising your shoulders upwards.
- Keep your feet healthy and springy.
Good posture is paramount for good ergonomic. It should be dynamic and strong. It is also affected by your individual body type. Use these guidelines and find what works for you. A good posture should keep you free from pain, allow you to stay flexible and provide the strength and motion necessary to perform your tasks without undue stress on any component of your body.
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