It’s the back to school season, it’s time to talk about posture. Good posture refers to the correct alignment and positioning of the body in various positions, such as sitting, standing, or moving. It involves maintaining a balanced distribution of weight across the body's musculoskeletal structure to reduce strain on muscles, ligaments, and joints.
Good posture in sitting and standing can be achieved by aligning the head over the torso, pelvis and legs. Good posture can also be achieved by maintaining good spinal alignment during activities of daily living.
The 3 natural spine curves
Good posture helps to prevent neck, shoulder and back pain, makes it easier to breathe and digest your food, and helps you to maintain flexibility and balance. Conversely, poor posture can strain muscles, ligaments, and bones, leading to discomfort, compromised breathing, and limited freedom of movement. Studies also show that posture is interlinked with our emotional state. One can often observe a slouched posture in someone experiencing a low mood or depression, while an upright posture can uplift one's mental state.
Working towards a good posture is NOT easy, the physical challenge and the discouragement of negative self-talk ( "I'm too tired," "I'm more at ease this way," etc. ) can easily hinder progress. Yet, forming a new habit demands patience and dedication. Consistently working on your posture as part of a daily routine can lead to remarkable transformations.
Good standing posture
Alignment: from a profile view, imagine a straight line passing through your body from your earlobe to your shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle. ( Take the wall test )
Hold your head in a neutral position with your chin parallel to the ground.
Relax your shoulders and let them fall naturally.
Pull your abdominal muscles in; engage your core muscles slightly to support your lower back.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, evenly distribute body weight between both feet, avoid locking the knees.
Take the wall test
Stand with your head, shoulder blades and buttocks touching a wall, and have your heels about 2 to 4 inches away from the wall. Slide your hand behind the curve in your lower back, with your palm flat against the wall.
Ideally, you'll feel about one hand's thickness of space between your back and the wall. If there's too much space, tighten your abdominal muscles to flatten the curve in your back. If there's too little space, arch your back so that your hand fits comfortably behind you.
Good sitting posture
Head and Neck: keep your head aligned with your spine, avoid tilting your head forward or backward.
Relax your shoulders.
Maintain your 3 natural spine curves.
Keep your feet flat on the floor.
Keep your knees at or below the level of your hips, your ankles should be in front of your knees.
Don't cross legs.
Remember that good postures might feel unfamiliar at first, especially if you're used to slouching or adopting poor postural habits. It takes practice to retrain your muscles and develop muscle memory for correct postures. Over time, maintaining good postures can become more natural and can help to reduce discomfort, increased energy, and a more confident appearance.