Poor Posture Puts You At Risk
There are many benefits to your health – and more – when you have good posture.
Learning to stand up straight is today considered rather old fashioned. And yet a few decades ago, perfect deportment was part of growing up when we were constantly told to stand up straight and pull back our shoulders.
Most young girls went to ballet classes which was one way to ensure a straight back while another popular trick was to walk around with 2 or 3 books balanced on your head.
But it is not just females who benefit from good posture. It is just as vital for males too.
Some women from Africa still carry their belongings or their shopping on their heads as a regular way of life. I have seen a woman coming through the Arrivals Hall at Heathrow in the UK from Johannesburg in South Africa, with her suitcase balanced on her head. As you can imagine, she caused quite a stir!
Today, posture is no longer considered important. We tend to enjoy a more relaxed way of life but that is not necessarily a good thing.
Why good posture is still relevant in today’s world
- It makes you look taller, slimmer and more alert.
- In business, it gives you a stronger presence so you appear more confident and in control.
- Poor posture and the modern sedentary lifestyle puts a strain on our backs and our necks. Sitting hunched over a computer screen several hours a day? You might not realize that, with the average head weighing up to 12 pounds and for every half inch you stretch if forwards, the weight increases by 10 pounds. Establish good posture at your desk: Sit with your back against your chair and feet flat on the floor. When you look at a computer screen, your eyes should be level with the center of it. If they are not, raise or lower the monitor.
- Poor posture has a lot to do with how we breathe as most tend to breathe from the chest instead of the stomach. To counteract this damage, try changing to deep breathing where you take 10 to 14 breaths a minute that reach your diaphragm. Some experts consider that 9 out of 10 posture problems are caused by dysfunctional breathing.
- Avoid holding your breath because when you do this, the postural muscles tighten and contract, possibly leading to the shoulders rolling forward.
- Apart from deep breathing from the diaphragm, one trick is to remember to keep your chin parallel to the floor while another is to try to imagine you are a chandelier with a piece of thread pulling you up from the crown of your head.
- Exercise can help too. Try this every morning and night by lying down on the floor and making slow “snow angels” with your arms for two or three minutes. For an extra challenge, roll up a towel and put it on the floor underneath your spine. Carry out these stretches slowly and stop if you feel anything worse than mild discomfort or pain.
- Strengthen your core (the muscles of your abdomen and pelvic area) with the help of pilates or yoga. These muscles form the foundation of good posture, and a strong core can have many other benefits – from improving your athletic performance to preventing urinary incontinence. They can even improve your sexual desire and performance.
- Support your spine. After menopause, women may have more weakening in the muscles around the spine than men. Exercises targeting the back extensors, neck flexors, pelvic muscles and side muscles are crucial. Endurance in the spine and trunk muscle groups is important too, allowing us to stand up for long periods of time without our backs giving us pain and discomfort.
- Lift weights. The vertebral compression fractures that subtract from our height—and can lead to the unfortunate “dowager’s hump” in the upper back—are due to the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. Both men and women can prevent these changes with weight-bearing exercises such as walking, stair climbing and weight lifting. Walking regularly through your life can ensure better bone density.
- High vitamin D levels are vital for good bone health and the connection with good posture. Sunlight is therefore key to raising levels – frequently and between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm with sunlight exposure to as much skin area as possible until it starts to turn pink. When impossible, supplementation with a high quality vitamin D3 along with some good fat (eg coconut oil or butter) and a dose of vitamin K2 to aid absorption. GrassrootsHealth suggests that adults need about 5,000 to 8,000 IUs of vitamin D3 supplements per day to achieve a minimum serum level of 40 ng/ml. If you can go higher, so much the better. The secret is in regular testing.
Not such an old fashioned concept after all – good posture is obviously a habit that we all need to get into whether we are young or old.