How to Improve Posture & Why It’s So Important
Proper posture is crucial to leading a mentally and physically healthy lifestyle. If you’re wondering how to fix your posture, your friends at Jack City Fitness are here to help you stand tall and proud.
Wondering How to Fix Your Posture?
There’s a reason that your parents scolded you for “slouching” as a kid—and it was definitely not just nagging. Maintaining proper posture is a crucial part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, moving well, and reaching your overall potential. This may sound dramatic, but it comes from a place of pure truth: your posture works as a baseline for every movement you make.
Whether you are training for the Olympics or simply wish to improve the way you move through life, you will find benefits from practicing posture exercises and focusing on the way you hold your body. Read our comprehensive guide to learn more about how to improve posture and understand why it is an important endeavor for athletes of any level.
What Is Posture?
At its most basic, posture refers to the way a person holds their body when they sit, stand, or walk. There are two primary forms of posture: dynamic and static.
Dynamic posture refers to the way you hold your body while in motion. This can refer to exercise, like walking or running, but that’s not all. Dynamic posture also refers to the way the body is held during everyday movements, like picking something up off the floor or reaching for a low shelf at the supermarket.
Alternately, static posture refers to the way you hold your body while in a sedentary position. Activities like sitting at a desk, standing in line, or sleeping all involve static posture.
Good posture is easy to recognize from an outsider’s perspective. Those with “proper posture” stand straight and tall without slumping or slouching. The person stands up straight so the spine is aligned, and their center of gravity (or core) is positioned right above the feet. When sitting, the legs are at a 90-degree angle with both feet planted flat on the ground, and the shoulders are relaxed. Proper posture also involves a straight neck whether you’re sitting or standing. This is at odds with the downward tilt many of us use while we scroll through our tech devices.
Why Is Good Posture Important?
Yes, proper posture tends to look better than slouching. But that is only a fraction of why you should practice it! In fact, to simply list the benefits of good posture would be a misstep. Instead, let’s discuss the importance of posture and why it’s a crucial element to living a healthy life.
Some of the most important reasons for maintaining proper posture are:
- It Makes Everyday Movement Easier
When the body becomes used to holding itself in uncomfortable positions, it needs to work harder against the natural push of gravity. By engaging proper posture, the body is able to use less energy to make those same movements.
- It Can Prevent Injury
Improper posture can lead to many types of injuries. Good posture protects the spine from age-related wear and tear and allows for a better sense of balance, leading to fewer chances of accidents like falling down steps.
- It’s Better for Your Physical Health
Poor posture has been shown to lead to alarming health problems. Though scoliosis may be the most classic ailment related to posture issues, it’s far from the only one. Lung-related and breathing impairments can be worsened by poor posture, as can chronic headaches or back pain.
- It Can Improve Your Mental Health
Numerous studies suggest that proper posture isn’t only important for physical health. It also impacts mental wellness! Many folks find that their motivation and confidence improves from standing, sitting, and moving properly during the day.
- It Leads to Better Balance
Feel “iffy” going downhill after a big walk? Struggling to stay upright on a busy train? Balance is the culprit here—and the way you hold yourself can make an enormous difference. If your center of balance isn’t placed over your base (your feet), it can really throw things off-kilter. This is why ballet dancers always have incredible posture—pointe, spins, and other elements of this art form require impeccable balance.
- It Often Increases Flexibility
Folks who have a habit of slouching and engaging in poor posture often find that their flexibility levels decrease over time. Luckily, paying close attention to stance and posture can reverse these problems and bring some elasticity back to your movements.
- It Can Aid Digestion
Having stomach issues? Before you blame gluten, try checking your posture. According to the folks at Harvard, poor posture can lead to heartburn, constipation, and digestive issues. It can also be the culprit of bouts of incontinence.
What Causes “Bad” Posture?
If reading this article is causing some alarm, take a deep breath. Your posture may not be perfect, but there’s plenty of time to improve! First, it can help to identify what is causing the poor posture in the first place. Some of the most common reasons for poor posture are:
We love technology. We use it every day, and we imagine you do, too. In fact, you’re likely reading this from your phone or computer. However, there’s a big issue with the amount of time we spend on our devices—and how they cause us to look downward constantly. Tilting the neck down (as we do while scrolling Insta or making spreadsheets) is terrible for posture—and some of us do it around the clock. This can mess up the alignment of the whole body.
- The Wrong Shoes
Shoes are often written off as merely a fashion statement or an inconsequential garment for keeping feet dry. No way! Not only is proper footwear an essential ingredient to everything from exercise to shift work, but it’s crucial for proper posture, too. Cramming your feet into the wrong shoes can wreak havoc on your alignment.
- Post-Injury Spasms
Some people develop posture issues as a response to an injury. This happens when, to protect the injured area, the muscles spasm. Though this does protect the injured area, it can lead to pain and limited range of motion, which can bring on poor posture.
- Muscle Tension
Muscle tension often appears in individuals required to maintain the same position or perform repetitive physical movements for long periods. Often, these movements or positions are performed in a way that creates tension or disparate motion across muscles.
- Compensatory Movements
Sometimes, years of “bad habits” can lead to something called compensatory movements. If you’re used to, say, holding a phone between your shoulder and ear rather than using headsets, your body forms new muscle patterns to compensate while you take calls. This can lead to diminished posture.
How to Maintain Good Posture: Stretches, Exercises, and Tips
There are many exercises to improve posture, as well as everyday tips for folks to follow. Here are some of our top tips for maintaining proper posture through exercise and lifestyle shifts.
- Try Some Yoga
Yoga poses are some of the best ways to work on spinal alignment and posture. Though there are countless poses to choose from, some of the best for posture include child’s pose, cat-cow, and downward-facing dog.
- Work on Your Core
A strong core will improve your center of balance and lead to better posture! To work the core, we recommend a classic high plank.
- Carry Things Correctly
You’ve probably heard the term “lift from your knees, not your back” a million times—and for good reason. Carrying things safely, whether it’s a heavy box, luggage, or your own baby, will allow for better posture and reduce the risk of injury. A rule of thumb: when lifting hefty objects, keep them closer to your body. This especially applies to backpacks—both straps should be on the shoulders, not hanging loose.
- Scroll Smart
We can’t erase technology from our lives, but we can optimize the way we consume it. Try tilting your computer screen or stacking your laptop on books so that you can keep your neck straight whilst working. It can make a big difference.
Practice Posture Exercises at Jack City Fitness!
Posture can certainly be improved through exercise and stretching—and our team is here to help you stand taller. Our passionate fitness coaches are true experts on the ins and outs of elite movement, and they’re ready to help you reach your potential. Get in touch with the Jack City Fitness crew for a FREE consultation and options to create your own custom workout program. We can’t wait to meet you!