Keep Your Chin Up (and Other Ways To Correct Your Posture)
Mar 01, 23
When was the last time you thought about your posture? Have you noticed everything in nature has a natural posture? The one-legged pose of the flamingo or the craning neck of the giraffe stands out in nature. Their posture is key to their identity and catches our eye. Any living, breathing organism has an innate posture that is essential to optimal performance.
The human body is a marvel! Our spine features 33 individual vertebrae divided into five sections: our cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine sections bottomed out with the sacrum and coccyx. And when we think about modern life – our bodies face different stressors than our ancestors. Sedentary jobs have increased by 83% since 1950 - with the average American sitting around eight hours daily. In some cases, people can spend up to fifteen hours a day sitting. Think laborious commutes, office work, watching TV, sitting during mealtimes, etc. It’s easy to wrack up hours upon hours of sitting. And then, we have to think – how are we sitting?
Are we hunched over our computers, slouching and bringing unnecessary tension to our shoulders (particularly the trapezius muscle?) Are we craning our necks to look at our computers and phones? Or we may have an excessive lower back arch, giving us annoying lower back pain. Even while we’re sitting, there’s so much happening in the body. Not only can long hours of sitting lead to tight hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors, but our abdomens get compressed, which limits our ability to practice deep belly breathing. Deep belly breathing is something we are born knowing how to do, but the instinct depletes as we age. Deep belly breathing (also known as diaphragmatic breathing) can help slow the heartbeat and even stabilize our blood pressure. It is a full-body breath – in contrast to the shallow chest breathing modern humans are accustomed to doing.
It’s one thing to move, and it’s one thing to feel good as we move. Posture is essential to the longevity of activity, improved digestion, circulation, and heightened awareness. The body isn’t functioning at its highest potential with poor posture, and years of bad form lead to structural imbalances that make us more susceptible to injury.
So how can we remedy this? Notice where you fall into bad posture! When was the last time you thought about your work station and sleep posture? If we can spend up to eight hours per day at our desks and up to (hopefully!) eight hours a day sleeping, it’s worth taking stock. To prevent “tech neck,” try elevating your laptop with a stack of books or an adjustable laptop stand. Bringing your phone up to eye level helps alleviate strain on your neck and shoulders. Set a timer to take a quick walk and stretch every 30 thirty minutes to break up long days at your desk. And if you really want to go the extra mile, sleeping on your back is a great way to prevent clenching or grinding your teeth. If you have TMJ, becoming a back sleeper can give you relief. When we sleep on our backs, we’re less inclined to clench our jaws. Our head, neck, and shoulders are supported while we maintain a neutral alignment.
For long-term improvements, carve out 5-10 minutes per day to correct your posture. Making time for three to five exercises a day can help make incremental improvements. Foam rolling pre/post exercise is a great way to bring awareness to the body and break up areas of tension. Activities like swimming, yoga, and rowing are great ways to open up our front bodies. We spend most of our time with a rounded spine. When we focus on extension and stretching our bodies in ways we don’t often get to, we achieve balance. Our mood and body language are directly tied to our posture. How we hold ourselves impacts how we feel and the energy we send out to the world. It’s an additive feedback loop that can help you feel lighter and freer as you move through life. This month, let posture be your focus. Try out these exercises and tips, and let us know how you feel in the comments!
Founder of Wear One’s At