Maintaining “good posture” is more important than many people realize. Lengthening the spine can boost how we feel about ourselves and even how others perceive us, but the benefits don’t stop there. Proper posture improves your overall health – from your head to your heart.

What is good posture exactly?

Good posture isn’t just about standing up straight. Medically speaking, it describes how you hold your body in any position – whether sitting, standing, lying down, walking, exercising, lifting, or going about everyday movements.

“In any scenario, you achieve good posture when you maintain your spine’s three natural curves at your neck, mid back, and lower back,” says Courtney Budd, PT, MSPT, CSCS, PESphysical therapist at Cooper University Health Care. “The goal it to distribute gravity evenly throughout your body so that no joints, ligaments, or muscles are overstressed.”

When not moving:

  • Keep your shoulders back – not rounded forward.
  • Pull in your abdominals, also known as engaging your core.
  • When sitting, keep your feet on the floor and your ankles in front of your knees. Don’t cross your legs.
  • Keep your lower back fully supported by a backrest, rolled towel, or pillow.

When engaged or moving:

  • When standing, keep your feet shoulder width apart and your weight evenly distributed between both feet.
  • Keep your neck, back, hips, and feet aligned – don’t bend or twist at the waist. If lifting, try to lift with your legs.
  • Pull in your abdominals, engaging your core.

Make good posture a habit, and unlock these larger health benefits:

Less lower back pain. Bad posture can create stress on muscles, spinal joints, and spinal discs, causing back pain. Good posture removes that stress. The lumbar (lower back) is a common source of pain and benefits greatly from improved posture.

Better digestion and breathing. Digestion requires high volumes of blood, and blood flow is largely determined by body position. When you sit or stand up straight, blood flows freely to your stomach and gut, improving digestion and reducing bloating, discomfort, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, and gas. Slouching while sitting also limits the ability of the diaphragm to expand the lungs, reducing lung capacity and oxygen saturation.

Fewer headaches. Poor posture stresses your body, sometimes creating tension headaches – especially if your upper back and neck are misaligned. Exercises that strengthen your neck and core muscles help to make good posture a habit and can prevent throbbing headaches.

More energy. When your body is properly aligned, your organs – including your lungs – get the oxygen they need, and muscles are less likely to experience fatigue. Proper alignment of your organs can help you feel more alert and more energized.

Improved self-confidence. Good posture does more than make you look better to others, it can elevate your confidence, mood, and even your sense of yourself.

Better posture = Better health

The next time you feel yourself crouched over or slumping in your seat, take a moment to sit-up, stand, and stretch – your body will thank you. To attain ideal posture, pull your shoulders and head back, and to engage your core musculature.

“Imagine someone is pulling you up with a string. Try to bring your belly button in towards your spine and sit up tall. This will help engage the transverse abdominis muscle which will help support your spine like a corset,” said Budd.

Source: Cooper Health

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