DEP Book Project — Health and Wellness Prompt
The Power of Positive Posture
Dancing Elephants Press Health and Wellness Prompt — Editor
What’s the big deal about posture? And what does the mind have to do with it? Plenty.
Good posture is important for good health — this we already know. And I am sure we’ll agree that health is indeed wealth. But besides physical health, your posture can also have a bearing on your emotional health.
I, like millions of people, spend a lot of time at the computer these days as my work requires it. Although I do spend time outdoors, I still sit for hours. And that is a problem.
There is ongoing research about how sitting for long hours is harmful, so I started practicing standing for at least an hour or two every day while using the computer. And of course, my mom’s constant reminder about sitting straight is always ringing in my ears.
Researchers aren’t sure why prolonged sitting has such harmful health consequences. But one possible explanation is that it relaxes your largest muscles. When muscles relax, they take up very little glucose from the blood, raising your risk of type 2 diabetes. (Source)
If you spend significant time at your laptop or desk and tend to end up sitting slumped or slouched in your chair, you know how it feels. The unexplained aches and pains all have to do with bad posture. Even if you don’t actually have bad posture, sitting for hours makes you slouch without being aware of it.
With the recent trend of working from home, it becomes even harder to keep good posture!
1. Why maintain good posture
2. The risks of bad posture
3. Signs of bad posture
4. Good posture is better than Botox
5. 10 tips to help you maintain good posture
6. Takeaway: Posture is not just about physical health
Why maintain good posture?
Here are seven good reasons to be conscious of your posture:
• Your brain works better
• You breathe better
• You concentrate and focus better
• You look better
• You feel more self-confident
• You increase your self-esteem
• You enjoy better health
• You look younger
That’s a whole lot of “betters” we can all use.
The risks of bad posture
Bad posture can be painful in more ways than one, besides earning nicknames that stick forever. We used to call a friend Sloucho Marx because he always slouched. To this day, we refer to him by this name. I am also guilty to admit that most of us have forgotten his real name.
Over a period of time, bad posture raises your risk of chronic backache, affects your blood circulation, and worse still — puts you at risk for a slipped disc. This can be excruciatingly painful. It is also responsible for:
• Low back pain
• Frequent headaches
• Shoulder and neck pain (oh I need a neck rub, someone!)
• TMJ dysfunction
• Change in breathing patterns
• GERD (acid reflux)
• Risk of injury
• Tissue wear and tear
• Low oxygen and blood circulation to the brain
• Muscle tension
• Stiff joints
• Inadequate lung function
As if that is not enough, bad posture stresses your body out, gradually damaging muscles, ligaments and joints and makes life miserable.
Signs of bad posture
Good posture keeps your hips and pelvis level, your head up, your jaw relaxed, back straight, shoulders low, relaxed and even, relaxed abdomen, buttocks tucked in, and knees gently flexed. This happens naturally with most people.
But for some, it does not. You can recognize bad posture when you see an abdomen and neck that stick out, knees that extend outward, uneven shoulders, a curved spine, a chest that appears sunk, and uneven hips — you get the idea.
…when sitting in a slumped position for a long time, the discomfort in the lower back increases regardless of muscle fatigue, and adolescent patients with LBP are more affected by these postures. (Source)
Good posture is better than Botox
That’s true. Besides determining your bone health, good posture also keeps you looking younger over the years. Also, think of the money you’ll save by not having to go in for a facelift! Granted that people tend to stoop a bit as they age, but the good news is, you can prevent a permanently bent spine as a result of osteoporosis and damaged vertebrae in the upper and middle spine.
But let’s think positively, shall we?
Without further monologue, here are ten things I’ve learned — that can help maintain good posture and keep you standing tall — no matter how old you are:
10 tips to help you maintain good posture
If you spend time at the computer, stay flexible by getting up for just a couple of minutes every half an hour and walking around, stretching, or just standing. Remember to wear supportive footwear.
I recommend rotating your shoulders, five anticlockwise, and five clockwise movements. Sitting for hours at the computer is not attractive.
Exercise helps you prevent injury and improve your balance while helping your posture.
Here’s one you’ll enjoy: Twice a day, maybe once in the morning and once at night, lie flat on the floor. Then with arms stretched perpendicular to the body, slowly move them making snow angels. Do this for two or three minutes. This will also improve your flexibility. You can feel good in ten minutes.
3. Sit straight
You know, while always sitting straight may sound like a pain, it is easy when you’re conscious of it. You actually feel more comfortable that way. Also, make sure you have good seating arrangements so that you sit properly at the computer.
4. Focus on your core
Core strength matters. A strong core, where you build the muscles of your abdomen and pelvis is critical because these are the muscles that actually help you maintain good posture. There are also other health benefits to strengthening your core.
5. Say om sweet om
Besides being a great way to strengthen your core and muscles, yoga also helps increase your body awareness and maintain flexibility. You can get started with a few simple poses or asanas.
6. Support your spine
The muscles around the spine tend to weaken with age, particularly in women undergoing menopause or after menopause. (By the way, men also go through menopause.) Exercises that target the back, neck, pelvic and side muscles will help. There are spine strengthening exercises that make it easier to stand for hours without developing a pain in the back.
7. Do weight-bearing exercises
This will help prevent that hump from forming on your upper back due to weaker bones as you grow older. You can avoid this by walking, lifting weights, and climbing stairs (oh, my knees!).
Examples of weight-bearing exercises are walking, jogging, climbing stairs, hiking, jump rope, dancing, yoga, and Pilates.
8. Get your quota of Vitamin D
When we’re talking about bone strength and posture, it is naturally important to talk about Vitamin D, which is critical to bone and muscle health. While most of us get Vitamin D from sunlight and our diet, some may need supplements.
9. Adopt a healthy diet
Get enough calcium and other vitamins and minerals in your diet. Make healthy eating personal.
10. Talk to your doctor
You may need prescription medication if you have low bone density or osteoporosis, so talk to your doctor.
Takeaway: Posture is not just about physical health
According to a recent study published in the January 2011 issue of Psychological Science about “posture expansiveness” (using one’s posture to open up the body and occupy space), posture activates a sense of power in the mind, making people feel and behave as if they are in charge. The study found that posture is more important to a person’s sense of power than one’s actual job title or position.
So, while a high-power role can make you feel powerful, to act in charge, you need a high-power posture.
Good posture keeps you emotionally healthy and improves general fitness and performance. When you’re confident, you stand and “walk tall” When you’re sad or depressed, you tend to slump. When you slump, you develop aches, and pains and become depressed. That vicious cycle need not happen to you when you practice good posture.
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