Maintaining a correct posture is beneficial to your health and quality of life. To achieve this,Rashmi Rawat recommends some guidelines as well as exercises
Sit up straight! Stop being a lazybones! I’m sure we’ve all heard these berating words from our elders. Well, they are worth heeding. Little did we know that our elders weren’t just annoyed with how we were sitting or standing; but actually concerned about the repercussions of our poor body postures.
What is a posture?
A posture is the position in which you hold your body when you’re sitting, standing, or lying down. It is really about body alignment; the way your structural parts such as head, trunk, hips, knees, etc., relate to your form as a whole. No matter what the action of a body is, the body parts need to be balanced for an ideal posture. It is far more than looking confident and poised.
What is the need for an ideal posture?
An ideal posture means the balancing of a body in an accurate and proper manner. Just walking across the floor, rising from a chair, standing in a morning assembly, lifting packages, and even turning to look behind require a correct posture. Correct posture places you in an alignment where stress is properly distributed to the intended muscles and ligaments. As a result, the muscles work efficiently as designed, which in turn decreases wear and tear on your joints. This helps in decreasing the abnormal wearing out of joint surfaces, which could result in arthritis. Stress placed on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together is also decreased with the help of correct posture, preventing the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal position. Correct posture also reduces the weariness of the muscles, thus increasing their efficiency and allowing the body to use less energy.
Poor posture and its aftereffects
Poor posture or postural dysfunction is a state where our spine is positioned in an unnatural position, in which the curves are emphasised, resulting in various adverse effects on the body. According to the American Chiropractic Association, poor posture can lead to an excessive strain in our postural muscles and may even cause them to relax, when held in a certain position for a long period of time. Common factors contributing poor posture are stress, obesity, pregnancy, tight muscles, and high heeled shoes. In addition, decreased flexibility, a poor work environment, incorrect working posture and unhealthy sitting and standing habits can also contribute to poor body positioning.
As a human being, we all perform four main actions on a day-to-day basis: walking, standing, sitting, and lying. But are we executing them in the most appropriate way? The answer would be “No.” So, let’s see what we can do to adopt better postures.
How do I sit properly?
We are all aware that at some point through the day, we start slouching and leaning forward towards our computer and paperwork or even tilt and twist to one side on our chair. In adherence to a hasty schedule, we have completely neglected maintaining a good posture. However, sitting properly not only prevents you from potential problems but also allows you to carry a good posture throughout the day. So, to sit with proper posture, place your feet firmly on the floor with your knees and hips bent at 90 degrees. Roll your shoulders back and then down, so that the shoulder blades move down your back. Check your pelvis alignment by gripping your pubic bone and tilting your pelvis forward. Your ears should be directly in line with your shoulders which are in line with your hips.
How do I stand properly?
Our standing posture plays an important role in the way we feel, both psychologically and physically. Incorrect standing posture places excessive strain and tension on our muscles and can often be a major contributor to those painful back and neck problems. So, by attaining a correct standing posture, you can avoid these problems effectively. Stand with your weight evenly distributed on your feet. When standing, make sure that your ears, shoulders, hips and ankles are aligned in a vertical line. Set your feet hip-width apart, with toes pointing forward. Your knees should be straight with the shoulders pulled back and then down. Finally, hold your head up straight with your chin tucked in and stand smart.
How do I lie properly?
We all know that good posture is important, but good posture doesn’t apply just to sitting and standing. The muscles and ligaments of your back relax and heal themselves while you sleep. In order to protect your back, correct posture is important while sleeping too. Proper posture, when you’re lying down, is partly dependent on what’s comfortable for you. However, the American Chiropractic Association recommends using a pillow so that your cervical spine is kept in a neutral position and to avoid sleeping on your stomach. If you sleep on your side, a pillow between your legs will help keep proper alignment of your spine. A pillow under your knees, when you’re sleeping on your back, is also an ideal choice.
How do I walk properly?
Walking is a form of low-impact exercise that has plenty of benefits, from mood-boosting to preventing twisted ankles, calluses, and long-term joint damage. But these perks can be notched up only if we walk properly. Now, what do we mean by 'walking properly'? Come, let’s walk our way to 'walking properly.'
To maintain a healthy gait with good posture, the Harvard Medical School recommends becoming aware of your technique. Your eyes should look 10 to 20 feet ahead of you, not down at the ground. This reduces neck and shoulder pain from poor posture. Each foot should land on its heel when stepping and spring into the next step with your toes first. Shoulders kept square—not slumped, forward, or reclined back—keep your spine in alignment. This promotes good posture and reduces chances of hip and lower back pain.
Exercises for healthy postures
Regular incorporation of yoga or other similar exercises can help build strength and improve flexibility in postural muscles so that you’re better able to maintain proper spine curvatures. If you find that you hunch forward at your shoulders, practise the Salabhasana (locust pose) which involves lying on your stomach with your arms by your side and lifting both your shoulders and legs (at the hips) off the floor. It helps to strengthen the vertebral column, legs, and buttocks, and stretches the muscles of the shoulders, thigh, and abdomen. Another pose by which you can increase flexibility and even tone the shoulders, abdomen, and buttocks, and ease the pain of sciatica is the Bhujangasana (cobra pose). The cobra pose is performed by placing your hands flat on the floor outside your hips and pushing your shoulders and chest off the floor until your trunk is vertical.
If long hours of sitting has caused your hip flexors to become tight, add lunges and the warrior pose to your regimen. In addition, add crunches to strengthen the abdomen, which will prevent your pelvis from tilting forward.
While sitting, keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest if they don’t reach the floor.
Try keeping your head at the required level with the system you’re working on.
While standing, use shoes that offer good support.
When you walk, make sure that you keep your stomach and buttocks in line with the rest of your body.
Use a firm mattress that provides support while sleeping, and stretch before bedtime in order to ease tense muscles.
Never tuck your feet under the chair, and avoid crossing your legs above the knees as this may cause poor blood circulation.
Avoid sitting in the same position for a long time.
Avoid wearing heels when standing for a long period of time.
Avoid leaning while walking, as this may force your back’s natural curve into an unnatural form.
Never sleep with a tall stack of pillows; that causes your neck to bend unnaturally.
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