Someone somewhere, at some point in your life, told you, "Sit up straight!" Your mom, your nana, your dance instructor, your kindergarten teacher – whoever it was, they were right (mostly, but more on that later).
Thing is, your posture may have been near its best when you were a kid! You may have picked up a few bad posture habits when you were young, but plenty of things in the modern life of an adult can make us want to slouch instead of stand tall: 8 hours at the office spent slumped in front of a computer, day after day hunched over your workspace, stooped down to talk to your kids, scrunched over by shoulder-slung laptop bags and ultra-chic but oversized purses – to name a few.
When you practice good posture, you give your body the shape it needs to function well, and the benefits can be felt instantly and over the long run, in your body and in your mind.
When you practice proper posture
- You may feel fewer aches and pains. Good posture allows your spine to be as aligned and balanced as possible. Properly stacked bones, muscles, and ligaments function smoothly and with minimal effort when you walk, run, turn, or dance. In contrast, bad posture forces your muscles and ligaments to strain for that balance. All that extra work can trigger lower back pain, neck pain, headaches, tendonitis, and worn-out, imbalanced muscles.
- You help to protect your joints. An aligned, balanced spine puts less force and pressure on your joints, which means less strain on joints and the resultant pains and headaches. Good posture also reduces the risk of wear and tear that can lead to limited range of motion and arthritis.
- You free up your breathing. For most people, lazy posture simply makes breathing more work than it needs to be. When slumped over in a poor seated posture, it takes more effort to breathe deeply. In proper posture, your lungs and diaphragm have more room to expand and contract as you inhale and exhale.
- You may feel more energized. You know that mid-afternoon slump at work? Worn down or stressed, you sink into your chair. It just seems like less work than sitting upright, doesn't it? On the contrary, slouching forces your muscles to work hard to hold you up, making you even more fatigued. Proper posture arranges our body in the most efficient position. The result? Efficient energy use and less chance of fatigue.
- You use your deep "core" abdominal muscles. Good posture and stronger abs go hand in hand. When you stand or sit in proper posture, you gently engage your abdominal muscles, which support your lower back.
- You may feel better about yourself. You give off a strong impression to the world when you stand with your shoulders thrown back, your body relaxed but vibrant, your gaze steady. With stellar posture, the world perceives a star – poised, self-assured, and strong. Just so happens that your own perception of yourself soars pretty high when you stand or sit in proper posture. Research shows this, but you've probably realized it for yourself!
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