Your posture says a lot about how your joints and muscles are working. How you look and feel is directly related to your posture but despite the importance of having good posture, most of us don’t do anything to improve it. Living with bad posture can be a dangerous thing as the muscle and ligament imbalances that result from poor posture can lead to all sorts of problems including:
- Chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain
- Foot, knee, hip, and back injuries
- Breathing difficulties
- Muscle atrophy and weakness
- Digestion problems
- Impingement and nerve compression
Correcting your posture may feel awkward at first because your body has become so used to sitting and standing in a particular way but with a bit of practice, good posture will become second nature. Your personal trainer will advise what particular strengthening and flexibility exercises would benefit your posture and any problems you may be experiencing.
Sitting slumped without any lower back support may feel more comfortable than sitting upright because it requires less effort from our muscles and your body will be used to adopting this position. Slouching doesn’t always cause discomfort but over time this position can place strain on already sensitised muscles and soft tissues and this strain may increase tension in the muscles which may in turn cause pain. It may not feel comfortable initially because your muscles have not been conditioned to support you in the correct position but you need together into the habit of sitting correctly.
Wearing high heels, excessive weight around the stomach and pregnancy can all cause an exaggerated inward curve of the lower back or a sticking out bottom. Core and buttock strengthening exercises and hip flexor and thigh stretches as well as making a conscious effort to correct your standing posture are recommended to help correct a sticking out bottom.
It is important to maintain a correct standing posture. The idea is to keep your body in perfect alignment, maintaining the spine’s natural curvature, neck straight and shoulders parallel with the hips. Try:
- Keeping your shoulders back and relaxed
- Pulling in your abdomen
- Keeping your feet about hip distance apart
- Balancing your weight evenly on both feet
- Try not to tilt your head forward, backward or sideways
- Keeping your legs straight but knees relaxed
Leaning more on one leg while standing, can feel comfortable, especially if you’ve been standing for a while but this is not good. Instead of using your buttocks and core muscles to keep you upright, you place excessive pressure on one side of your lower back and hip. Over time, you may develop muscle imbalances around the pelvis area, which can cause muscular strain in the lower back and buttocks. Other causes of uneven hips include carrying heavy backpacks on one shoulder, and mums carrying toddlers on one hip.
Many of us spend several hours a day working on a computer, or hunched over our phones, tablets, laptops etc and this can cause poor postural habits. Your neck and spine is designed to hold your head upright and by using this hunching position we interfere with the body’s natural ergonomics. Your head weighs 10-12lb and when bending your neck forward and down the force of the weight of your head on the top of your spine dramatically increases. The knock on effect of this is neck and shoulder pain, back pain, headaches arm and hand pain. This position can also lead to a tight chest and a weak upper back and over time can contribute to you developing a rounded upper back, which can cause shoulder and upper back stiffness.
Also holding your phone handset between your ear and shoulder can place strain on the muscles of the neck, upper back and shoulders. The neck and shoulders are not designed to hold this position for any length of time and this posture can place strain on the muscles and other soft tissues and lead to muscle imbalances between the left and right side of your neck.
So if you want to look and feel younger, look slimmer, feel fitter, get rid of those aches and pains, it may just need a few adjustments to your posture, talk to your personal trainer who will be pleased to advise a tailored program for you.