At the core of any good physical form is correct posture. Posture matters. The old adage of ‘Stand up straight’ actually holds true. While standing up straight is part of correct posture, there are a few more components to achieving and maintaining correct posture, and even more reasons why posture matters. Correct posture helps us align our skeletal system, and also enables our muscles to avoid shortening and tightening, or becoming elongated and weak. Why does this matter? If our muscles shorten and tighten, we begin to limit our range of movement, and may experience muscle tightness and soreness from very simple activities such as sitting on the lounge for only a few minutes. Muscles at risk of elongating, such as cervical flexors (muscles stabilising our neck) can occur by sitting and looking at computer screens and phone screens, which we all now do a lot more of. Poor posture then leads to many other issues.
So, what are some effects of poor posture? Are you ready?
Back pain, joint pain, spinal degeneration, weak abdominal muscles, round shoulders, spine curvature, poor balance, improper walking style, hip issues, turned feet, headaches.
Harvard Researchers have suggested poor posture is also causing issues with heartburn, digestion, constipation, mood, sleeping, fatigue, jaw alignment, and incontinence.
Let’s add to those issues heightened arthritis risk, poor circulation, poor sexual function, heightened risk of injury, poor lung function, constricted nerves, and reduced function in bodily co-ordination.
When it comes to physical activities, fitness pursuits, sports, dancing, swimming, running, and a range of other activities, developing and maintaining correct posture is critical to peak performance and to avoid injuries. I am always a little disheartened and annoyed at the number of trainers in public fitness and activity classes who fail to correct posture (and form and technique). In most cases the person with incorrect posture is completely unaware of it, and a simple reminder and demonstration may put many people on the ‘correct posture’ track, reducing their injury and illness risk, and contributing to a better workout and improved results.
Any exercise performed with correct posture (and form and technique) will yield way better results than poor posture, form, and technique. For example, imagine if the muscle development you were seeking and working hard for was not happening for you simply because of incorrect posture! What a waste of time! It’s like waiting for the toast to pop, but you forgot to push the toaster down to start with!
So, what are the key components of correct standing posture?
Feet should be aligned directly under your hips with the weight evenly dispersed across both feet (no leaning into one foot, leg, hip)
Pull your shoulders back, but they should also be down, and relaxed.
Once your shoulders are back, your core/abdominal area will naturally pull in, avoid a sway back by ensuring your core is pulled in and up
Your arms should fall naturally to the sides of your body with the palms facing inward
Imagine a rope gently pulling up from the crown of your head, and keep your head facing forward
Even when you begin moving, keep all these points in mind and engage as many as possible while moving (obviously you will need to move your feet and shift your weight) but using correct posture as your central framework will benefit you in a myriad of ways!
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