What is Posture?
Posture is defined as the position in which an individual holds their body. When you think of good posture, you are likely to picture someone who has their shoulders back, head level on top, and often this is associated with confidence! What we don’t always picture is aligned hips/tailbones as well. You may notice for yourself or others around you that when you are standing in one place your hips may gravitate forward, leaving your back/shoulders bending further backwards.
Good posture would look like:
- your spine being aligned
- your head on top of your neck
- your shoulders pulled back, and
- your hips, knees, and ankles aligned.
Why Does Posture Matter?
As I mentioned above, posture can often be associated with confidence, however, posture is also tied to our overall health and wellbeing. It is especially tied to our spinal health as well as our brain-body connection and functioning.
Relevant: 8 Ways To Stop Sitting Yourself to Death
Individuals who have poor posture can end up experiencing:
- neck pain
- shoulder discomfort
- headaches, and
- joint pain
Just think, if your head is much more forward than it is meant to be, it is going to put undue strain on your neck and shoulders. A head hanging forward is going to feel much heavier than a head perfectly aligned on top of the neck. Poor posture can also affect our ability to breathe efficiently and comfortably.
Posture is Not Just Physical
A study conducted in the psychology department at the University of Auckland (NZ) looked more in-depth at the effects and impact of good, upright posture versus poor, slouched posture. The focus was on younger, healthy individuals’ resiliency levels and capabilities to cope with, in this case, a stressful reading task. The study found when the young people were holding their bodies with upright, proper posture, they could cope much more effectively with a stressful task versus those in a slouched position attempting to complete the same task.
Additionally, as previously mentioned surrounding confidence, the scientists found that good posture resulted in the individuals having higher self-esteem, elevated mood, and lessened fear compared to when they had slouched posture. So though posture is heavily associated with spinal health, as it should be, it is also directly tied to how we feel about ourselves and how we interact with our environment and circumstances. Pretty cool, isn’t it?
How Can I Improve My Posture?
Thankfully, there are several ways to improve your posture! It starts with simply being aware. Throughout your day, multiple times a day, pay attention to how you are sitting or standing. When you are at work, be cognizant of how you are positioning your head, neck, and shoulders. If you work a more physically demanding job, pay attention to how you are lifting things and shifting your body at any given time. Try to correct negative posture habits; correcting your posture will take time and effort, do not expect it to happen overnight!
Now that you’re paying attention to your posture, the next step is to strengthen your muscles and ensure that your body is equipped to maintain your new, proper posture. Take time out of your week to both stretch and strengthen your muscles with simple body-weight exercises and gentle stretching/yoga. Dr. Beauchamp shares some tips on working from home and some simple stretching you can incorporate into your day in a recent blog.
Lastly, schedule an appointment with your local chiropractor. Though there are many things you can do on your own to nurture good posture, you will likely need some help with a professional who can adjust your spine so it is optimally positioned. At Santé Chiropractic and Wellness Centre, we are happy to serve our community as Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp has been an Ottawa Chiropractor for over 25 years. Schedule a New Patient Consultation today and get a spine check.
Nair S., Sagar M., Sollers J., 3rd., Consedine N., Broadbent E. Do slumped and upright postures affect stress responses? A randomized trial. Health Psychol. June 2015; 34(6):632-641.