Polish Your Posture
“Stand up straight!” “Don’t slouch!” “Sit up nice and tall!”
Sound familiar? If your mom hounded you about your posture while you were growing up, you’re not alone—and, by the way, she was right!
What is proper posture, and why is it important?
Posture is the way we work against gravity to hold our bodies upright. We know that good posture helps us look our best, but there’s way more to it than that. Proper posture keeps our bodies aligned so that we put the least possible strain on our muscles and ligaments while we sit, stand, lie down or move around. This helps reduce wear and tear on the joints, helping to prevent arthritis. It also reduces muscle strain and prevents pain in the back, neck and shoulders.
Sitting all day—whether in front of a computer, behind a steering wheel, or anywhere else—plays havoc on our core muscles. The more we sit, the weaker our muscles become, making it that much harder to fight gravity and maintain good posture. If we slump, slouch, cross our legs or sit on our feet… well, that’s even worse.
If this sounds like you, make an effort to sit correctly, with both feet on the floor. It may feel uncomfortable at first, because your body isn’t used to it, but practice will help. Take a break every 30 minutes to stand up and stretch and look for other ways to include more movement in your day. Standing and/or walking around while talking on the phone can be a good start.
Standing all day, though it’s better overall than sitting all the time, can still be hard on the body. To practice good posture while standing, imagine a string running from your feet all the way up through the top of your head. Now, imagine someone pulling that string from the top, pulling your body straight and tall.
If you stand in one place, keep your feet flat and your weight even on both feet. Every hour or so, put one foot up higher than the other for a few minutes, and then switch feet. For example:
- In the kitchen, open the lower cabinet and rest one foot inside.
- If stairs are nearby, stand with one foot on a higher stair.
- Keep a small footstool handy that you can slide out for this purpose.
Mix it up any way you can
As much as anything, good posture depends on movement. Try to change positions or activities at least every hour, giving different muscles and ligaments the chance to loosen up and become stronger.