You’re doing it now, even though you’re probably not paying attention. “For most of us, posture is a subconscious habit, instead of something we actively pay attention to,” says physiotherapist Marcus Dripps. And it’s more than just standing up straight. “There are two types of posture – your static posture: how you hold yourself when you’re sitting or standing, and your dynamic posture: the posture you use when you’re doing something active, like walking.”
THE BENEFITS OF GOOD POSTURE
Lower Stress Levels
Sit upright when you’re faced with a stressful situation, and you’ll automatically be more resilient to the effects of stress. New Zealand researchers who made the discovery say it’s because, when compared to slouching, sitting up straight helps to instantly boost selfesteem and improve mood.
Make an effort to walk with a spring in your step and an upright, open chest, and you’ll feel like you’ve got more energy. Walking that way helps to open up the same biological pathways that exercise works on to increase happiness.
Adopting a posture that opens up the body, so you seem to take up more physical space. This has a psychological knock-on effect. It helps you behave in a way that makes you look like you’re in charge. US researchers say the tactic also convinces the people around you that you’re worthy of their respect.
Research has linked the degree to which you sit with “forward head posture” (that hunchedover, head-out posture you slip into when you’re struggling to read something on a computer screen) with more frequent, longer-lasting headaches.
Less Neck And Lower Back Pain
The wrong posture increases the risk of neck pain, while the right posture helps to prevent and reduce lower back pain. Better Tolerance To Pain Compared to submissive postures, Canadian researchers say an expansive, powerful posture increases your pain threshold by boosting the production of testosterone.
PERFECT YOUR POSTURE
These five strategies will improve your posture and the impact it has on your health.
1 Strive for a neutral body position
“The best postural position is one that minimises how much your muscles have to contract to hold you in place,” says Dripps. So when you’re standing, align your ears over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, and your hips over your knees and ankles. “Use the old ‘deportment school’ method: position yourself, so you could balance some books on your head if you wanted to, or imagine a piece of string coming out of the top of your skull and pulling you up towards the ceiling, so your head is balanced over your spine. That will help you place your neck and shoulders in a neutral position.”
2 Don’t stay in one position for too long
Even if you’ve got good posture, maintaining one position for lengthy periods is bad for your health. “A key part of making sure your posture doesn’t contribute to aches and pains is moving your body and changing its position regularly,” says Dripps. While standing desks are linked to a variety of health benefits, including increased energy expenditure, they can also contribute to lower back pain if you don’t take regular breaks to sit down. “When you’re doing something sedentary, set the alarm to remind yourself to change your position every 20 to 30 minutes, and take the chance to stretch at the same time,” he adds.
3 Pay attention to your body when using technology
Using a tablet computer puts up to five times more strain on neck muscles, because of the posture we adopt when we use them – head forward and shoulders hunched. That same posture is also the reason why at least 50 per cent of people who work on a computer has, what’s called, kyphosis, or a slightly rounded back.
Try to maintain a neutral body position when you use any technology. So prop tablets up at a higher level, and change your desk or seat height when working at a computer. When texting, use both thumbs and support your back against a chair. Having a strong core will also help you to maintain a neutral body position.
4 Tilt the seat of your chair downwards
Scottish research shows that sitting with your back straight, and at a 90-degree angle to your thighs, places too much strain on your back, leading to chronic aches and pains. Instead, the scientists behind the study recommend tilting the seat of your chair forward, so that your bottom and hips are slightly higher than your knees (aim for a 135-degree angle). If the height of your chair is not adjustable, you could place a piece of foam or a folded towel at the back of your seat to sit on.
5 Download a “Posture” App
There are a variety of smartphone apps that can help you correct your posture. The Posture Aware app, for example, lets you analyse your posture with the photos you take of yourself and how much it has improved over time. On the other hand, the Posture Trainer app uses your phone’s accelerometer to detect when you’re projecting your “text-neck”. It dims your screen, so you instinctively raise your phone to eye level.
TEXT: BAUERSYNDICATION.COM.AU / PHOTOS: 123RF.COM