Improve your posture

15th March 2016

How you stand and sit can have major repercussions for your muscles and joints and can be the basis for some very painful conditions. Posture ranks right up at the top of the list when you are talking about good health.

It is as important as eating right, exercising, getting proper rest and avoiding potentially harmful substances. Good posture is a way of doing things with more energy, less stress and fatigue. Without good posture, you cannot really maintain a healthy spine.

Your spine is made up of segments with curves, with the head resting directly on top of the spine, which sits directly over the pelvis, which sits directly over the knees and ankles. But if you spend hours every day sitting in a chair, hunched forward, the muscles of your neck and back have to carry the weight of the body rather than it being supported by the spine. The resulting tension and joint pressure can affect you not only physically, but emotionally, too, — from the predictable shoulder and back pain to headaches, short attention span, and depression.

Think of Bonsai trees, which are essentially normal shrubs that have been consistently stressed in a particular way for a long time to create a posture which would never be found in nature. To some extent this can happen to your spine if placed in abnormal positions for long periods. It adapts to this and changes your posture. The most immediate problem with poor posture is that it creates a lot of chronic muscle tension as the weight of the head and upper body must be supported by the muscles instead of the bones. This effect becomes more pronounced the further your posture deviates from your body’s centre of balance thus creating large strains and effort and reducing the body’s ability to adapt to further strain considerably.

Correcting bad posture and the physical problems that result can be accomplished in two ways. The first is by eliminating as much “bad” stress from your body as possible. Bad stress includes all the factors, habits, or stressors that cause your body to deviate from your structural centre. Bad stress can result from a poorly adjusted workstation at work , from not having your seat adjusted correctly in your car, or even from carrying too much weight around in a heavy purse or backpack.

The second is by applying “good” stress on the body in an effort to move your posture back toward your centre of balance. Think about using your core muscles by gently pulling in your tummy button and allowing the spine to gently lengthen.

You should always be relaxed when standing so do not try to pull shoulders back or stick your chest out as this will fatigue your muscles. Instead just try to align your head so that it is directly over your pelvis and hold this with the absolute minimum effort.

Getting your body back in balance by improving your posture is critically important to improving how you feel

In some parts of the world, women can carry big pots full of water from distant water sources back to their homes. They are able to carry these heavy pots a long distance without significant effort because they balance them on the top of their heads, thereby carrying them at their centre of balance and allowing the strength of their skeleton to bear the weight, rather than their muscles.

The big advantage with proper posture is that we feel healthier, have more energy, and move gracefully.

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