Today’s mobile device generation is known for its poor posture and tech neck, constantly hunched over a cell phone or tablet. But bad posture is not limited to kids or young adults, as Baby Boomers and Millennials also haven’t been standing up straight over the years either.
Why Posture is Important
Maybe we would be more likely to heed our mother’s advice about not slouching if we understood why posture is important and how we can benefit. After all, who is going to argue against good posture? But then why aren’t all of us maintaining better alignment?
Benefits of Proper Posture
Posture refers to how our body is aligned when we are standing, sitting and lying down. It matters in both weight-bearing and non-weight bearing movements and activities.
When it comes to why posture is important, it’s to reduce the stress on the muscles, tendons and ligaments, keep the vital organs in place and allow the nervous system to function most efficiently. Ultimately, good posture helps your body feel better and reduces the risk of injury and chronic conditions like arthritis.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, proper posture:
- Keeps bones and joints in correct alignment so that muscles are used correctly, which decreases abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that can cause joint pain and degenerative arthritis
- Reduces stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the likelihood of injury
- Allows muscles to work more efficiently, so the body uses less energy and muscles don’t fatigue as quickly
- Helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders and back and muscular pain
Good posture also can:
- Reduce headaches
- Increase lung capacity
- Boost energy
- Improve circulation and digestion
- Enhance balance
- Make you look thinner and taller
- Inspire greater self-confidence
Who doesn’t want all of that? So how do we improve our posture?
Causes of Poor Posture
First, it’s important to identify what causes poor posture so we can correct it.
- Weak core muscles – The abdominals, back and hips connect the upper body and torso to the lower body, and are critical in maintaining alignment.
- Limited flexibility – Tight muscles limit range of motion and can pull the body out of alignment, such as tight chest muscles that pull the shoulders forward.
- Poor habits – Standing all day, sitting at a desk, driving a car, working on a computer or staring at a mobile phone can put the body in compromising positions and lead to bad posture, which becomes a habit over time.
- Obesity and pregnancy – Extra weight in the abdomen can exaggerate the lower back curve and disrupt balance.
- High-heeled shoes – These shift the weight forward unnaturally to the balls of the feet and disrupt the alignment of the pelvis.
Ways to Improve Posture
The good news is that you can improve your posture through awareness and exercises. Here is where to start:
- See a chiropractor or physical therapist. These experts can take x-rays and conduct assessments of your posture to identify misalignment and then prescribe a customized routine.
- Learn and practice techniques. This can be as simple as standing and sitting up straight, checking the mirror, setting reminders on your phone to correct posture and maintaining awareness of how you are sitting, standing and lying down.
- Strengthen your core. Exercises such as planks, dead bug, bird dog, bridge, yoga, Pilates and more equip the center of your body to support better posture.
- Try a posture corrector. There are multiple wearable slings and braces that are visible, although some can be worn under clothing. The Upright Go is a discreet sensor worn on your upper back, which eliminates any self-consciousness.