Chin up! Shoulders back! Suck in that stomach!
Those seem like instructions from a ornery drill instructor (or, depending on your upbringing, a strict mom or dad), but that doesn’t mean that we should just ignore them. In fact, as our work days have started to revolve more and more around sitting at desks staring at computers, the importance of having good posture has come to the forefront.
Most of us already know that bad posture can lead to muscle aches and pains and stiff joints, but there are lots of things that you might not know.
Hunching constricts your insides.
We know it’s not easy to keep from slouching toward that big, beautiful monitor, but unfortunately excessive hunching constricts blood vessels and nerves. This can lead to fatigue, headaches, breathing issues, and even do damage to your internal organs.
You can lose the ability to stand up straight.
It may seem like something your mom says to keep you from making funny faces, but leaning forward all day can actually cause you to develop a permanent anomaly in your spine. If this continues, it will become progressively more difficult to stand up straight.
Digestion can be impaired.
Remember all of that constriction of your insides that’s going on? Well, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that this can end up hampering your digestion. Poor posture not only makes it harder for food to squeeze through, but can physically push your intestines into areas of your body where they are not meant to be.
Weight gain may occur.
How could weight gain possibly be connected to bad posture? If your head leans forward often (say, while reading your computer monitor), it can cause your teeth to be out of alignment, which sends signals to your brain that something has gone wrong with your eating. Among other problems, this could prompt your brain to tell your body it needs more to eat.
It can lead to a bad impression.
Looking good may be the last thing on your mind where good posture is concerned, but it’s a valid problem. When we slouch forward and slump our shoulders, it not only puts more strain on our body, but makes us look tired, schlub, and unattractive.
Luckily, there are everyday things that you can do to improve your posture, most of which come down to having an awareness of our bodies. All too often, we’re not paying attention to the present, but dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. This not only creates tension in our bodies, but prevents us from living in the moment and realizing how we are physically interacting with the world.
Simple things that we can do to improve our posture on a daily basis include:
- Exercising – when our bodies are physically active and in motion, we stay flexible and toned, helping our muscles support good posture.
- Maintaining a healthy weight – one big reason for bad posture is that your body has to drag around that spare tire you call a belly. Keep your weight down and it will be easier for your body to support a healthy, natural posture.
- Raising screens to eye level – one of the most common causes of bad posture is leaning forward to watch TV or look at your computer screen. This can be alleviated by putting your screens at eye level so you can just look straight ahead.
- Using a firm mattress – if you want your spine to be supported while you sleep, go with firm bedding. It will naturally shape your body to “good standing posture” overnight.
Also make sure that you see your doctor on a regular basis. Any kind of fall or injury can throw off your posture, and if your eyesight is deteriorating, the strain caused by this can also lead to bad posture and poor balance.