We've all heard it at some point of our lives, some of us more often than others, and for most of us it's one of those commands that no matter how old you are always makes you feel like a child. It's the classic, "stop slouching," and who could forget the typical, "sit up straight"? These are the commands that we're shouted at us by our mothers, that have now been taken over by our spouses and we're pretty sure that one day the reins will be handed over to our kids. No matter how annoying it is, no matter how much you feel like an adult and no matter how resiliently you adopt the I-can-slouch-if-I-want-to attitude, you should listen! Why, because great posture not only makes you a better person, but it contributes to a healthier lifestyle.
Maintaining a good posture whether it's while you are sitting, standing or walking will assist in maintaining a healthy body and mind. Good posture has been proven to reduce back and neck pain while also reducing recurring headaches and fatigue. In addition to this good posture also improves self confidence, giving credence to the saying, "Walking tall."
Many people think that posture and posture related injuries are simply back related, they aren't. Poor posture can cause injuries and pain in other parts of the body such as the knees, hips and ankles. If you wish to stay injury free and to be fit and healthy then working on developing good posture should be at the top of your list. Here a couple of tips on how to develop and maintain good posture.
4 tips on working towards good posture
Finding your center is a great start. I'm not saying you have to wrap yourself into an orange and run off to join a monastery, not at all. I'm talking about finding alignment in your body in order to develop good posture. In order to achieve alignment you need to have a straight back, square shoulders, chin up, chest out and your stomach in. Got it? A helpful way to start is to imagine that there is a piece of string coming out of the top of your head. If you were to pull this string it would shift your body into alignment. If that doesn't work then draw an imaginary line from your earlobe, through your shoulder, hip, knee to the middle of your ankle. If you are still struggling then use a wall, putting your back up against the wall to achieve alignment. This may feel unnatural at first, but that's just the poor posture talking. You'll get used to it and notice a drastic difference in your body.
Once you have found your center it is important to train and strengthen your muscles to help support and maintain this posture. Strengthening your core is a great start. From there is highly recommended that you strengthen your upper back and shoulders. If you are lifting weights you should ensure that you train both the agonist and antagonist muscles evenly. This means that you should train you chest as much as you back, your quads as much as your hamstrings, and so on. Training will help to improve muscle memory and ultimately improve your posture. Stretching is another vital component in maintaining good posture. It is important to stretch every morning and if you are sitting down for large amounts of the day then it is important to stretch during the day too. Do you do yoga? Why not?! Yoga is extremely beneficial for both physical and mental wellness and it contributes greatly to developing good posture. Look for yoga classes in your area or find yoga videos online to get started.
Try not to sit down too much. While slouching and sitting down affects your posture studies have shown that sitting is not just bad for you, it is a killer! Humans we're not designed to sit down for prolonged periods of time and as a result sitting down can drastically increase the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. The moral of the story is: if you can do it standing up, do it standing up! Whether it's talking on the phone, eating your lunch or substituting the boardroom for a walk around the block during your morning meeting, standing up more often will improve your posture and your health.
Finally, avoid unnecessary strain. Take care in lifting and carrying heavy objects as straining your back can cause discomfort and pain. If you are going to pick something up always bend at the knees and not the waist, using your legs to lift the weight and not your back. When weight training use a supportive belt and when carrying heavy objects keep them closer to your chest. This will put less strain on your lower back. Find a balance by swapping arms when carrying shopping bags or a heavy suitcase. This will ensure that you are not putting too much strain on one side of your body, putting your posture out of line as you do so.
Take note of these simple tips and start your journey towards better posture and a healthier you. And remember, don't slouch, and stand up straight!
This article was published and written by Josh Martin from Unwind. Unwind is a revolutionary mobile app for iPhone connecting massage therapists with clients seeking a massage. For more, visit http://getunwind.com/.© 2014 Josh Samuel Martin
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