Making an effort to improve your posture will have immense health benefits. Working all day at a desk can put a lot of strain on your back. Slouching or hunching your shoulders can disrupt the natural curvature of your spine. Good posture is not just about sitting up straight at the dinner table. When your spine is in healthy alignment, you will get the most benefits of good posture. In fact, poor posture can cause a variety of issues and health conditions, which is why people seek out back pain specialists each year. Here’s what you need to know about the importance of good posture and how it can benefit your overall health and well-being.
What Is Good Posture?
First, it is important to answer the question, “What is good posture?” Good posture refers to the position of your spine in your neck and back. The spine runs from the base of your skull through your lower back. There are three natural curves to the spine in your neck, middle of your back, and lower back. When you are standing or sitting with good posture, your head, shoulders, and hips should all be in line with one another. Many people struggle with poor posture around the natural curves to the spine. Poor posture can occur in your neck when you hunch forward over a keyboard or workspace for long hours of the day. This can cause you to roll your shoulders forward and hold your head too far forward. Poor posture can also look like slouching or hunching your back, especially while you sit in an unsupportive chair or while driving. Too much curvature in your lower back can also cause poor posture and affect your spine, hips, and even the way you walk. In order to practice good posture, think of your ears, shoulders, and hips in a straight line with your bodyweight equally distributed across both legs.
The Importance of Good Posture
It’s important to fix your posture because practicing good posture is a key aspect of healthy functioning. In order for your body to function optimally, you want to focus on your posture and supporting a neutral spine. Here are twenty benefits of good posture.
Reduce Neck Pain
A common cause of neck pain is known as “tech neck.” When you extend your head forward and work with your chin tilted down, this posture puts additional strain on your neck muscles. Tilting your head forward for long periods of time can cause your neck muscles to become weakened and unable to properly support your head, leading to pain and discomfort. Lifting your chin so that it is parallel with the ground will help reduce neck pain.
Reduce Shoulder Pain
In times of stress or anxiety, you may tense your shoulders and notice they are closer to your ears. You may not even realize it’s happening, but our bodies tend to scrunch up in times of stress. Pay attention to when your shoulders are raised above your collarbone and close to your ears. This can cause tension and sore muscles in your shoulders, which can contribute to shoulder pain and tension headaches. Practice taking a deep breath and gently rolling your shoulders back and down away from your ears.
Reduce Lower Back Pain
Practicing good posture can also help reduce lower back pain. A common cause of lower back pain is poor posture. You may stand or sit with your stomach extended forward and your buttocks extending behind you, which exacerbates the curve in your lower back. This can put strain on your back and abdominal muscles. Weakened abs and strained back muscles can lead to lower back pain. Tilt your pelvis forward so that your buttocks are tucked in and your stomach muscles aren’t stretched or loosened.
When you sit or stand with a neutral spine, you allow your body a chance to breathe properly. Sitting hunched over or with your stomach crunched up can restrict your ability to take a full, deep breath. Practice sitting or standing up straight to improve your breathing and provide enough space for your lungs to expand fully.
Correct your posture to help reduce headaches. One common type of headache caused by poor posture is the tension headache. When your muscles stretch and strain to accommodate poor posture, it can cause tension. Sore, stiff muscles in your neck and back can lead to headaches. Weakened and stressed neck muscles can cause pain in your head and neck. Learn how to prevent headaches by checking in on your posture throughout the day.
Hunching forward or slouching can negatively impact your digestion. Have you ever eaten a delicious, healthy meal but felt uncomfortable afterward? You may not have realized how your posture contributed to indigestion afterward. Leaning forward or hunching to get closer to the table while you eat can actually negatively affect your digestion by compressing your stomach and other vital organs. Sitting up straight while you eat can help optimize your digestion and reduce uncomfortable symptoms after meals.
Boost Energy Levels
Practicing good posture can also help boost your energy levels. When your body’s bones and joints are properly aligned, your muscles and other soft tissues can function at their best. This can help boost your energy levels because your muscles are not working harder than they need to. Activating your abs while you are sitting or standing will also help strengthen muscles for better support and optimal use of your energy.
With higher energy levels, you can also experience less tiredness and fatigue. Good posture helps reduce fatigue by helping your muscles not work too hard. Standing with poor posture for a long period of time will put a lot of stress and strain on the muscles in your back, which can make you tired.
Optimize Exercise Routines
The benefits of good posture extend into activities other than just sitting or standing. When you exercise, you want to practice good form. Part of practicing good form includes practicing good posture. Engaging your core while you perform exercises or participate in activities will help keep your spine neutral. Maintaining a neutral spine while you exercise can also reduce your risk of injury.
One side effect of poor posture you might not realize is poor concentration. You may have trouble concentrating if your brain is not getting enough oxygen. Good posture can help improve your concentration by making enough space for your lungs to take a deep breath. If you are studying hard for an exam or working on a project for your job, practice good posture and notice how you will start to think more clearly and feel calmer and more confident.
Decrease Risk of Joint Damage
Regular activities and daily routines contribute to the wear and tear on your joints over time. Repetitive movements with certain exercises or sports can also put additional strain and stress on your joints. Poor posture can put you at a higher risk for developing issues with your joints, like repetitive stress injuries or conditions like arthritis. Good posture will help ensure pressure and weight are evenly distributed across your joints to help decrease early wear and tear on the joints.
Our bodies need the constant flow of blood circulation to function. Slouching, hunching, and other forms of poor posture can disrupt the healthy flow of blood in the body. Good posture will help improve circulation to and from your heart. When your heart is able to effectively pump blood in and out, you will experience health benefits like lower blood pressure.
Reduce TMJ Pain
If your poor posture habits include extending your head forward and tilting your chin down, then you may experience TMJ pain. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the joint and surrounding muscles of the jaw. TMJ pain can disrupt your eating habits and cause pain while you talk or yawn. If you notice a clicking or popping sound in your jaw, then you may have a TMJ disorder. Practice keeping your head and neck in a neutral position with your chin parallel to the ground and eyes straight ahead.
Improve Core Strength
Your core muscles play a large role in your ability to maintain good posture. The more you slouch or hunch over, the weaker your ab muscles become due to disuse. When you engage your core muscles, it naturally inspires the body to sit up straighter and practice better posture. Improving your core strength with stretches and exercises will also help you engage your core muscles for longer when trying to maintain good posture.
Look Taller & Slimmer
You may be surprised to learn that good posture can help you look taller and slimmer. You may notice this when looking at photos of yourself. If you hunch your shoulders forward, it can make you look shorter than you really are. Standing up straight with your body weight evenly distributed will also help improve your appearance.
In addition to reducing your pain and boosting your mood, good posture can also improve your mood. Start off your day right by relaxing your shoulders, tilting your chin up, and engaging your core. Good posture will help your body function optimally and increase your self-confidence. We tend to carry stress in our shoulders and neck, so releasing that tension can help improve your mood.
Increase Range of Motion
If your body is used to poor posture, then your muscles are likely less engaged. Stiff, inflexible muscles can decrease your range of motion elsewhere in the body. For example, reduced flexibility and range of motion in your lower back can restrict hip and leg movements. The stronger your muscles are, the better they are able to support a healthy range of motion. Engaging your core and allowing your muscles to function at their best will help your joints stay flexible and mobile.
Prevent Chronic Pain
When poor posture becomes a habit, you may experience pain more often. Chronic pain can occur due to poor posture or be made worse by poor posture. When you hunch forward over a keyboard or look down at your phone for long periods of time, you can cause tense, stiff muscles. Stiff, sore muscles can aggravate existing injuries or health conditions and make your pain worse. Learn how to prevent chronic pain by practicing good posture.
Good posture while you go about your daily routines can help prevent injuries. Maintaining good posture throughout your day can help improve your balance and stability, putting you less at risk for accidents or falls. Squatting to pick something up or lifting heavy items can put additional strain on your back if your spine is not properly aligned. Help prevent injuries by practicing better posture even in small routines and tasks.
Boost Brain Health
Finally, good posture can help boost your brain health. Added stress and pressure on the nerves near the spine can activate stress signals in the body. Aggravated or compressed nerves can disrupt signals to and from the brain. Poor posture can also reduce healthy stimulation to the brain. Boost your brain health by practicing healthy posture and keeping a neutral spine.
Don’t let back pain keep you from enjoying your life! Visit our team of back pain specialists at Pro-Care Medical Center for quality, comprehensive care. At Pro-Care, our back pain specialists treat a wide range of conditions and injuries that contribute to back pain. We offer non-surgical options for back pain, including primary care, chiropractic and other holistic health services. Learn how an all-natural approach to your back pain can help reduce misalignments in your spine and improve your posture. Our team at Pro-Care will walk you through how to practice good posture in your everyday routines and activities so you can experience improved health and wellness. Learn more about the benefits of good posture by visiting Pro-Care Medical Center and speak with one of our back pain specialists today.