POSTURE FOR HEALTH

POSTURE FOR HEALTH in home Personal Trainers in Toronto Canada

Are you feeling like your shoulders have dropped, your back is curled and sitting up straight feels strange? You might suffer from bad posture. Let’s think of a bowling ball being supported by a small branch on a tree, over time the branch will start to curve…This is the same as what occurs in our bodies as the human head weighs approximately 10-11lbs.

People have probably told you to ‘sit up straight’ because that is good posture… well that is not bad. We are learning that posture is less about how we look and more about how we feel. Having blanket terms for exactly what posture should be can lead to miscommunication, everyones ‘good posture’ looks different. This is the same idea of a shirt fitting differently on each person. We are not meant to be the same, so let’s focus on healthy posture for everyone.

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Looking down at your phone or tablet device can erode your posture over time. (source:https://www.gwosteopathy.co.uk/much-head-weigh/)

We rarely notice poor posture until pain or other ailments begin to appear. Repetition can be a double-edged sword, if you have been slouching for some time, your body will become used to this posture.

This happens because you’ve trained yourself to feel ‘comfortable’ by repeating a slouching position for some time. All you need is a little practice and commitment to correct your posture and move forward into a healthier life. 

Poor posture can creep into our lives over time. Slouching can be a learned position created by how you move throughout your day. Perhaps you lean your phone on your shoulder while you talk, sit and look down at a screen or regularly carry a bag over one shoulder. Yes, your purse or knapsack can cause bad posture over time! However, your issue could develop from a weakness, like an injury, and your body positions itself to protect you from pain. 

The long-term effects of poor posture or not easy to correct

If you have an injury, chances are, your posture will be affected. Joint pain from your feet to your neck can be linked to your posture. Pain from planter’s fasciitis (swelling of the tissue connecting your heel to the ball of your foot), knee injuries, hip issues, lower back pain and general body composition can impede your ability to maintain good posture as an adult. 

Muscle imbalances are also a leading cause of poor posture and postural pain. Understanding the importance of symmetry when exercising is very important. Making sure you count your repetitions and that they are the same on each side is a key takeaway from today’s blog.

THE BENEFITS OF STRENGTHENING YOUR POSTURE 

Let’s face it. Good posture looks good. People who stand tall with their body symmetrically aligned are more likely to give off a sense of confidence, openness and approachability. But posture isn’t just about how you look on the outside. Good posture helps your body function properly. 

Aligning your body allows your circulatory system and digestive system to work easily. Your spine is in the correct position and aligned over your pelvis with your neck open, allowing free movement throughout your veins, bringing oxygen to where you need it. The digestive system has space to work as your chest is raised and your organs have more room, which leads to more space for your lungs to expand when breathing. Your posture helps your body function, or not function, depending on how your vertebrae stack up. Poor posture can lead to health problems like shallow breathing, poor circulation, headaches, back and neck pain.

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Classic photo of Poul Nielsen working with his client in a posture improvement exercise program

FOUR LONG-TERM NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF POOR POSTURE 

Repeating the slouching pattern can lead to some pretty unfavourable long-term effects. Strain on your body shows over time and you may find yourself suffering from ailments connected to your posture.

HEADACHES

Headaches are common with poor posture and are linked to the stress on your neck and back of your head from prolonged tension. Your upper back could become tight, and your nerves can cause stress headaches. Your chin position can cause your jaw to become overworked, and tension can impede your ability to open your mouth.

Poor Circulation

Although the simple act of sitting for long periods of time can run havoc on your nerves, poor posture can also decrease blood flow, causing your heart to work harder. This can lead to high blood pressure, pinched nerves and deteriorating muscles.

SPINAL CURVATURE

We position our spine to help us absorb shock. The natural ‘S’ curve helps us protect our organs and bones. However, if the spine develops a weaker shape because of postural issues, you may leave yourself open to injury.

FATIGUE & BREATHING ISSUES

Dropping your shoulders and rounding your back for long periods can disrupt your ability to take full deep breaths. Your lungs cannot function to their fullest, leaving you out of breath and tired. 

HOW TO STRENGTHEN YOUR POSTURE 

Focusing on strengthening your posture is a great first step to feeling better and improving your health. Start with these tips to align your body for better health. 

How to IMPROVE YOUR STANCE 

Stand up regularly. While standing, you can improve your posture by following these tips:

Stand with your feet approximately shoulder width apart and allow your weight to fall into your heels to help you balance. Use your core muscles to support your back and let your shoulders sit neither rolled in nor pulled back. Your arms should hang from your shoulders in a relaxed position. With your head level, take a few deep breaths and see how it feels. You should be able to engage your lungs in some deep breaths and feel your chest open up.

How to IMPROVE YOUR SITTING POSITION 

While we’d like to think we aren’t sitting too much, the truth is, our generation is spending more time sitting than those before us. Gone are the pioneer days of hanging the kitchen chairs on the wall and bringing them down just for dinner time. Do you spend more time sitting than you’d like to admit? I think we all do. Considering the time we spend in front of our computers, on our phones, in our cars and just plain watching TV on the couch. 

Since we often can’t avoid sitting, we can improve our sitting technique to help our posture.

Try to change your position often. Limit your sitting position to 30 minutes at a time when possible. Get up and walk around the room or try doing some light exercise for 10-15 minutes. 

How to sit with CORRECT POSTURE

While you are sitting, try to follow these techniques: 

Keep your feet flat on the floor with your ankles in front of your knees. Adjust your position so your shoulders are relaxed. Keep your elbows close to your body, bent to 90 or 120 degrees. 

Your chair should adjust to place your hips and thighs on a 90-degree angle with the floor. If your knees are higher or lower than your hips, try adjusting your chair or add a block or a footrest to keep a straight line from your hip to your knee.

Support your back by fully sitting in the chair (often we sit on the edge which doesn’t benefit our posture). If this is difficult to do, you may need to reposition or adjust the furniture.

 

seated stretches office stretching

BUILD CORE STRENGTH 

Using your core to support your back will improve your posture and open your rib cage to allow your lungs to expand. Your core strength will also improve your stability and decrease the risk of falling or losing your balance. Try side plank and high plank exercises to build your core and get your body working as a unit.

EXERCISE FOR STRONG POSTURE  

Practicing regular stretching and strengthening exercises will help you avoid health issues over the long run. Get a good start to aging well by improving your body position and be rewarded with better balance and health.

Focus on developing good posture as an adult is key when it comes to a healthy fitness plan. Body awareness and mindfulness are the best place to start when improving your overall health. I’m sure you have sat a bit taller just while reading this blog!

Yoga, planking and other full body exercises help you align your spine, strengthen your core and develop key supporting muscles for a posture which supports your body. You can use these types of exercise to strengthen your back, loosen tight hips and build positive muscle memory for a taller, prouder, you. 

If you would like to develop a body strengthening program that targets your needs, then get in touch and apply for a free first workout.

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