What Is Good Posture, and Why It’s Important
We realize this article’s title makes it sound like the kind of educational film kids would have been forced to watch in health class back during the 1950s – but good posture is just as important today as it was back then.
Maintaining good posture is the easiest way you can help keep your spine healthy. A dishonest chiropractor would advise you to maintain a poor posture, as doing so would increase their chances of one day earning your business. An honest chiropractor is content to treat their patients for unavoidable health issues, which is why we’ll share what you can do to help keep your spine healthy on your own!
What Is Good Posture?
The best posture keeps your bones and joints optimally aligned. It minimizes abrasion of the joints’ surfaces and stress on the spinal ligaments (soft tissues which band the vertebrae together). It also helps your muscles function optimally, which decreases your risk of strain or another painful condition.
The best posture additionally maintains the natural curves of your spine. Unlike the spine of a book, your own spine curves inward at the neck, outward at the upward back, and then inward again at the lower back. Failing to maintain a good posture places needless strain on these curves, which can negatively impact your musculoskeletal system.
What Is Good Standing Posture?
Maintaining a good posture while you’re standing is as simple as doing the following:
- Stand up straight
- Keep shoulders back
- Tuck abdomen in
- Hold hands at sides
- Keep knees unlocked
- Position feet at shoulder width
- Bear weight mostly on balls of feet
- Shift weight across feet while standing for long periods
If you would like to test your standing posture, locate the nearest wall and stand so your head, shoulders and posterior are all touching it. Place your heels 2 to 4″ away from the wall. Now place your palm against the wall and slide it beneath the curve of your lower back. If your posture is ideal, your hand should fit there perfectly. Too much space means you should flatten your back; too little space means you should arch your back to bring your abdomen outward.
What Is Good Sitting Posture?
Working from home is just one type of sedentary activity that can increase your risk of neck and back pain. In addition to creating an ergonomic home office, you can do the following while you are sitting to maintain your spine health:
- Keep neck parallel to back of chair
- Keep back straight
- Keep shoulders relaxed
- Keep posterior at back of chair
- Keep legs uncrossed
- Keep knees bent at 90° angle
- Keep soles of feet flat against floor
What Are the Benefits?
Good posture will make you appear more confident – but its positive effect on people around you is far from its only benefit.
Reduced pain. A recent study showed that improved posture goes hand in hand with reduced pain in the shoulders, middle back and lower back. It’s easy to appreciate why: The better your posture, the less strain you place on the soft tissues that support your spine and connect it to surrounding limbs.
Reduced risk of injury. Poor posture is the leading cause of muscle tension – a condition where one or more muscles remains partially contracted for extended periods of time. Tense muscles become weaker, more susceptible to strains, and less capable of maintaining good balance. Good posture also reduces wear and tear on joints, which is the signature symptom of osteoarthritis.
Improved digestion. Slouching just after you’ve eaten can place pressure on your abdomen, which may force stomach acid to travel in the wrong direction. That is why good posture can spare you from acid reflux and resultant heartburn! Practicing good posture while you’re sitting on the toilet can also relieve constipation.
Improved mood. Yet another recent study showed that people with good posture also have higher self-esteem, less fear, and overall better moods than those who are slumped. The intricate interplay between posture and brain chemistry is not yet fully understood. But from an intuitive standpoint, standing up straight and proud just feels like the happier position to take in life!
Sadly, good posture is not a guaranteed solution for avoiding any and all back pain. If you would like a safe, gentle and drug-free treatment plan for any discomfort you may feel, then we welcome you to schedule a consultation at Fargo Spine’s chiropractic clinic in Fargo, ND today!