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Stand Up for Posture in May

woman exhibiting good posture standing at her desk

Why Good Posture is Important This Month and All Year

By Jennifer Footit-Tank, quality care coordinator at Network Health
Originally published on 5/18/2021 at 9:32 a.m.

You may remember being a child and hearing parents or other authority figures reminding you to “sit up straight” or “stop slouching.”  Good posture is incredibly important and, chances are, many of these authority figures were speaking from their own experience.

Posture is important for balance, reducing the risk of injury during exercise and even improves your performance in golf, tennis, running, dancing and many other sports.

It’s about balance

One of the lesser-known reasons for focusing on good posture if balance. Balance plays a part in your ability to cross a room safely, get into or out of a chair and can even boost your mood and improve your confidence.

With proper body alignment, you’re also reducing extra strain on your joints, spine and muscles which reduces pain and inflammation. As a result, you tend to feel better and more productive.

Negative effects of bad posture

Most people have felt the effects of bad posture, which can include pain or stiffness in your back or neck, muscle weakness and decreased flexibility. Beyond these easily identifiable symptoms, however, you can also experience headaches, jaw pain and even breathing issues due to compression of the rib cage and diaphragm. This compression can also lead to insufficient food digestion, giving you an upset tummy.

Bad posture has negative effects that reach across your entire body, and by extension, your mind.

What is good posture and how do I get it?

Improving your posture will take conscious effort and time. Experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend using the “wall test” to check your posture to see if yours is correct.

  1. Stand so that the back of your head, your shoulder blades and your buttocks touch the wall, with your heels two to four inches away from the wall.
  2. Put a flat hand behind the small of your back. You should be able to just barely slide your hand between your lower back and the wall for a correct lower back curve.
  3. If there's too much space behind your lower back, draw your belly button toward your spine. This flattens the curve in your back and gently brings your lower back closer to the wall.
  4. If there's too little space behind your lower back, arch your back just enough so that your hand can slide behind you.
  5. Walk away from the wall while holding a proper posture. Then return to the wall to check whether you kept a correct posture.
  6. Repeat as necessary until you can walk away from the wall and not have your posture change.

If you find that you could use a little straightening up with your posture, you can use these reminders to help you stand tall. Don’t forget to check yourself in the mirror to make sure you are doing them correctly.

  • Be mindful of your posture throughout the day both sitting and during activity.
  • When standing, keep your chest out and extend your neck and back to your tallest.
  • Keep your shoulders back.
  • Pull your stomach in. Picture trying to pull your belly button to the small of your back.
  • Keep your head level. Check yourself by making sure your chin is parallel to the floor.
  • Keep your body weight distributed evenly on both feet and shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your arms straight and at your side.
  • When sitting, do not cross your legs. Make sure your feet are touching the floor.
  • Relax your shoulders and keep your elbows next to your body.

Sometimes poor posture is due to a limited range of motion of your joints or weakened core muscles. Talk with your provider to determine which exercise will help you improve these concerns or if you would benefit from therapy.

Good posture is straight-up worth the effort

The good news is, with practice and few adjustments, you can straighten your posture, improve your health and sense of wellbeing. Your body will thank you.

Looking for more health tips or wondering how your health plan can help you enjoy your healthiest and fullest life? Contact us today.

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