You might have heard that good posture is critical for health? Maybe your mom always told you to stand and sit upright. She was right! Have you ever wondered why and how posture affects your health? In this blog we will discuss the benefits of good posture.
What is Posture?
Posture signifies how we position our bodies while sitting, standing, moving, and lying down. Good posture means that we sit, stand, walk, and lie down in a way that our body alignment places the least amount of strain on muscles and ligaments. When we practice good posture, we are upright against the force of gravity, and our bones fit optimally with the adjacent bones at their respective joints. Optimal postural alignment leads to the least amount of musculoskeletal pain and strain.
In scientific literature, posture is defined as the ideal alignment of bones and body parts in relation to landmarks relative to a vertical plumb line that runs down our center (1).
In most cases, our posture today is because of our habits over the years. Some of the other reasons for our faulty posture are joint impairments, muscle weakness, and injuries. To practice better posture, we must train our body to stand, walk, sit and lie down so that we place minimum strain on our muscles and ligaments.
Benefits of Good Posture
Reduced low back pain
Sitting or standing in a reclined position for prolonged periods stresses your lower back. Practicing proper posture keeps your bones and joints in alignment. Accurate alignment reduces the abnormal wearing of joints, reduces stress on the ligaments, and allows your muscles to work more efficiently. This leads to movement without pain.
Reduces wear and tear in the joints
An out of alignment posture makes your muscles work harder to contract. This stress on the muscles leads to soft tissue injury and excess wear and tear on the joints. These injuries translate into the pain in your joints in the short term and can lead to the development of degenerative osteoarthritis in the long term.
Research shows that people with tension headaches and migraines have a poor posture of the head and neck (2). Poor head posture comes when we allow our heads to jut out in front of our bodies. This places excessive stress on muscles in the back of our neck and shoulders and can refer to pain in the head. Correcting your head and neck posture can lead to fewer or eliminate headaches.
Research shows that you cannot breathe deeply and fill your lungs if you have poor posture (3). Slouching tightens the muscles at the front of your body and reduces your fully breathing ability. Correct posture with an open chest can improve your ability to bring in oxygen by as much as 30% (2).
Improved range of motion
Better posture increases the joint and muscle range of motion allowing the body to move more efficiently. Too much pressure on your muscles surrounding the spine, and core muscles, makes them inflexible. In the time that means trouble with movement, sitting and standing. For athletes, good posture can be a deal-breaker. Good posture means better form and range of motion for your athletic activities. This means fewer injuries.
As much as we like it, slouching is unnatural and takes extra work. Our muscles fatigue faster in a slouched position. Good posture will preserve that wasted energy, and you will get an energy boost for the activities you like.
Mental Health Benefits of Posture
Benefits of good posture don’t end at just physical well-being. There are many mental health benefits of good posture.
How you sit, and stand dictates your impression of others. If you have a tall posture, you are considered a confident person. Research has shown it also boosts your self-esteem and self-image. A study found that body posture affected the positivity of people’s thoughts (4).
Slumped posture can be an indication of depression. Research shows that individuals with a history of depression had a slouched walking posture and low energy levels (5). When people with depression practice an upright posture, it increases positive affect, reduces fatigue, and decreases self-focus in people with mild-to-moderate depression.
Everyone wants less stress. It’s easy to reduce stress if you have a good posture. A study conducted at Harvard University found people who had more “powerful” postures saw a 20% increase in testosterone levels and a 25% decrease in cortisol levels. This means people with open and tall postures had low levels of stress. Sitting in a slumped position causes us to take shallow breaths leading to high stress levels.
Posture affects your health in various ways and the path to a healthy life begins with correct posture. The good news is that by having posture awareness throughout the day and exercising to address your posture, can help you to have a healthy posture.
1- DOI: 10.15621/ijphy/2015/v2i6/80758
2- Doi: 10.12659/MSM.918595
3- Doi: 10.1186/2193–1801–3–210
4- Doi: 10.1037/hea0000146.
5- Doi: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2016.07.015.
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About the Author
Aesha Tahir is a health and wellness coach and a certified personal trainer. She holds a Master’s degree in Applied Exercise Science and is certified by the NASM as a Personal trainer. She is a certified USA Track and Field Running Coach and Road Runners of America Coach. She is a 200-HR Registered Yoga Teacher. She is also a group exercise instructor specializing in barre, spinning, strength training, boot camp, and yoga classes. She has over five years of experience in the fitness and wellness arena with focused expertise in coaching, corrective exercise and injury prevention, individualized fitness programs, and group fitness programs. She is also an aspiring public speaker in the fitness and wellness world who believes in this quote; “To be inspired is great, but to inspire is incredible.”