Sit up straight, stop slouching, shoulders back! We’ve all heard these commands coming from our parents, and teachers. Are you sitting up straight, right now? When you bring your attention to your sitting position, you probably sit up taller. You adjust your posture. Do you feel more alert when you do?
Posture refers to the body’s alignment and position with respect to the force of gravity. Knowing the difference between good and bad posture can mean the difference between a healthy energetic body and feelings of depression, lower energy, aches and pains.
What is Good Posture?
Good posture involves holding your body in positions where the least amount of strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments. There is an ideal alignment in sitting, standing, and walking – in fact in any movement that we do in our daily life, including sports.
The American Chiropractic Association created an excellent PDF with tips to maintain good posture.
Help! I’m at my desk all day…sitting.
9-5 desk jockeys are particularly susceptible to the health consequences of sitting for long periods of time. Slumping is not uncommon and the core muscles, essential for good posture, tend to relax.
Below are a few suggestions to help break up your sitting sessions.
Set a timer to remind yourself to stand up and move every 30 minutes to an hour.
Do shoulder rolls – stand or sit in a comfortable position. As you inhale, raise your shoulders and shoulder blades to your ears. On exhale, pull your shoulder blades down and together. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Bring awareness to your hamstrings and calf muscles with a gentle stretch. While standing, step your left foot back so it rests fully on the floor. Square your hips. With your legs straight, bend your elbows and clasp your forearms behind your back, exhale, and lean forward from your hips (don’t round your spine). Take three to five breaths, pull your stomach muscles into your back and rise, switch legs.
The standing-forward-bend is known to reduce stress and release compression down your spine. If you are a Yoga fan you know this pose. Standing with your feet hip width apart, fold down towards your feet. Just hang there, grab your elbows with your opposite hands, and breathe. After you release your arms, slowly roll your back up to standing position while pulling your stomach into your spine, bringing your head up last.
If you are feeling a mid-afternoon slump, try a shoulder opener. While standing, keep your arms straight, interlace your hands behind your back, then draw your shoulders in behind you. This opens up your shoulders and the front of your chest. Try it. Feels great, right? This is a particularly good stretch to counter the forward slump that often accompanies sitting.
Tighten up your core and improve your posture.
A strong core supports good posture. Your core muscles are the abdominal and low back muscles that connect to your spine and pelvis.
You’ll see the biggest benefit from a fitness routine that targets your entire core with slow, controlled movements. Swimming, Yoga or Pilates anyone?
The big secret to good posture is to know how to move, stand, sit, and sleep in alignment. The physical therapists at Paspa Physical Therapy are a great resource for you. We will assess your posture and teach you through instruction, exercise and stretching how to stay “aligned” and avoid injury and pain from poor posture.
By all means move your body and go with what brings you joy. You’ll stand taller, straighter and have more energy. Raise your hand if you want that!