Let’s start by sitting up straight, spreading the knees wide, pulling the shoulders down and back, and lifting your chin so it’s parallel with the ground.
Great stuff. Now, how long do you think you can hold this position?
The truth and trick to posture is persistence and consistency. It doesn’t help to sit up straight and correct your posture once a month, it is a habit that needs daily practice… and should be as ingrained into your mind as covering a yawn or saying “hello” when you answer the phone. What I mean is it should just happen naturally and reflexively.
You see, your posture is like a slowly closing door. If left on its trajectory, it will inevitably close shut. If, however, you actively make a regular effort to push the door fully open, it will never close.
Do you get me?
Our spine is designed in such a way that it allows for structural stability AND flexibility of movement. It really is a work of incredible divine engineering.
The spine, while acting as the main support column for our body, also houses our Central Nervous System. At every segment, the CNS branches out to innervate the many tissues of the body. These branched out nerves allow for movement, sensation, and communication between the body and the main conductor… the brain.
When the spine is ideally aligned and “straight”, there is an optimal flow of impulses from the brain to the body via the CNS. There is stability within the body, and a low likelihood of pain, pressure or injury.
If, instead, the spine is held in a position of “misalignment”, the opposite is bound to happen.
As I mentioned earlier, posture is a slowly closing door. By sitting in poor postures, you are only encouraging the closing of said door.
What counts as poor posture? Well, I’m so glad you asked, because here is a list:
Crossing legs: Crossing your legs may feel good and even make you look classy, but it’s actually not great for your posture. Especially if you have a tendency to always cross the same leg. This will inevitably lead to lower back and hip problems, not to mention increase your likelihood of developing scoliosis. On top of postural problems, it will absolutely lead to varicose veins in the legs and blood pressure issues.
Internally rotated shoulders: People who spend a lot of time with their arms crossed are prone to this. As well as people who spend a lot of time typing or driving. These are all positions of internal shoulder rotation. This will inevitably lead to a shortening of the pectoral muscles, and a weakening of the rhomboid muscles.
If continued over time, this may lead to a hunched-back type of spinal condition. And let’s be honest, hunch-back isn’t exactly an attractive posture, is it? Not to mention it’s also painful.
Rounded lower back: This is very common among those with sedentary life styles… meaning people who sit a lot. It also happens to be prominent in people who spend a lot of time lounging on the couch or watching TV in bed. If this sounds like you, get on top of it! Otherwise you too will end up with a hunch-back like your internally rotated friends.
You can start a club! Or maybe a band. Call it the “Achy Breaky Backs” or “Spinal Curve”.
If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, then just start sitting up straight!
Exaggerated lower back curve: This is an interesting one. Why? Because people tend to do it to actually appear MORE attractive. How? Well what they do is exaggerate the curve of their lower back to make their bum appear to pop out more. This also is a common posture in people with tight hip flexors from sitting a lot.
Elbow leaning: This one is tough even for me. Who doesn’t love a good elbow lean? See the problem with an elbow lean is that you can really slump into it, pulling your spine into a weird lateral curve. If you do this over time, especially with the same elbow, you are likely to end up with a structural deformity like scoliosis.
So how do you avoid these?
For a good majority of them it comes down to what we started with.
1. sitting up straight
2. spreading the knees wide
3. pulling the shoulders down and back
4. lifting your chin so it’s parallel with the ground
5. hold this position as long as possible
You can also get different tools and aids to passively improve your posture.
For more information on how to improve posture easily and affectively, check out my book Self-Care Solutions @ Work. There you will find all kinds of answers to these postural problems.
You won’t regret it. In fact, it may just change your life!