When you slouch, you’re relying on ligaments and joint limitations to hold you upright, instead of muscle strength. It’s comfy, easy, and energy-efficient. But over time, you’re sacrificing your joint and myofascial health to be in that position.
Proper posture is mechanically efficient, balancing weight and tension evenly throughout the body. It minimizes stress on joints.
So what does good posture look like?
Here's an easy trick to instantly improve your posture.
Stand next to a wall, and press into it until your spine is aligned against it. Then simply walk away. This method allows you to feel what correct alignment is, and then you just have to maintain it. More detailed instructions below, from mayoclinic.org:
Stand so that the back of your head, your shoulder blades and your buttocks touch the wall, and your heels are 2 to 4 inches from the wall.
Put a flat hand behind the small of your back. You should be able to just barely slide your hand between your lower back and the wall for a correct lower back curve.
If there's too much space behind your lower back, draw your bellybutton toward your spine. This flattens the curve in your back and gently brings your lower back closer to the wall.
If there's too little space behind your lower back, arch your back just enough so that your hand can slide behind you.
Walk away from the wall while holding a proper posture. Then return to the wall to check whether you kept a correct posture.
Poor posture can cause headaches and neck pain.
We have a tendency to push our heads forward to look at our computer screen, phone, whatever it is we're working on. This is hard on the cervical spine, but it's also hard on the alignment of the skull to the spine.
Even people with "good posture" make this mistake by sticking their chin out too much. This comes from the military ideal: we think of good posture as soldiers at attention with their chins in the air. But sticking your chin out stresses the suboccipital muscles at the base of the skull and can contribute to tension headaches.
As you stand against the wall, press the back of your head into it and tuck your chin (you'll get a double-chin). This is how your skull should rest on your spine for myofascial health and headache prevention.
Improve your posture in (a little more than) 5 minutes.
The wall exercise is a great way to re-align yourself throughout the day, and teach your body what correct posture is over time.
But if you're just getting started, you'll benefit from a little more information.
From expensive French court necklaces to a punch in the gut, this ballerina makes posture memorable. She clearly demonstrates the do’s and don’ts of beautiful standing.
Free up 6 minutes of your time today. Stand up, watch the video, and mirror Kathryn Morgan so you can feel the difference in your own body.
Improving & Maintaining Correct Posture | Kathryn Morgan [6:00]
There are many benefits to better posture, both mentally and physically. Make an investment in yourself and enjoy boosted confidence, a healthier spine, and less pain. Getting started is the hardest part.
This is all well and good for standing posture, but what about seated posture? If you work at a desk, your seated posture probably has the biggest effect on your back health out of anything you do.
There's one thing you must do when sitting, and the rest of your posture will automatically correct from there. No more achey low back!
Jesse Martel is a Licensed Massage Therapist who practices in Seattle, Washington. She has helped many people overcome neck/shoulder injuries and chronic back pain with Upgraded Myofascial Release massage. Treatment includes Aromatherapy, Myofascial Release, Cupping, Lymphatic Drainage, and Kinesiology Tape at one flat rate. Her website is SageBodyworkSeattle.com.