Your mom probably told you more than once as you were growing up to “stand up tall and straight.”
She was right — good posture has a lot to do with your overall health and how you look and feel.
What exactly is your posture? It’s the position of your body while standing, sitting or lying down.
Today, the importance of good posture has taken on a new urgency as people continuously look down at their smartphones and computers, resulting in neck pain, upper back pain and headaches.
“The culprit of bad posture today is the technology we use,” said Angela Cherniawski, associate chiropractic doctor at the Hanczaryk Chiropractic Neurology Group in Grand Blanc. “It’s primarily your smartphone, because you’re constantly slouching your shoulders and looking downward.”
Good posture, with your body in healthy alignment, has many health benefits, from maintaining the correct alignment of bones and joints to minimizing your risk of injury. Good posture can also make you look five pounds thinner.
We all know what poor posture looks like — hunched shoulders, a rounded upper back, forward head carriage and arched lower back. Such posture can age you prematurely, affect your digestive track and influence your confidence and stress levels.
“Proper posture isn’t important for merely sitting and standing straight to exude confidence or beauty,” said James Ide, DC, of Painless Chiropractic in Fenton. “It is absolutely necessary to shift body weight onto the correct spinal structures so you never have spine-related disabilities. Science is finally able to support a truth that moms have innately known for thousands of years — your health and ultimately your life depends on you sitting up straight and not causing spinal deformities due to bad posture.”
Poor posture can be caused by stress, obesity, pregnancy, weak postural muscles, abnormally tight muscles and high-heeled shoes. “Wearing good, supportive shoes is important,” said Cherniawski. She adds that men shouldn’t sit with a wallet in their back pocket, because it causes poor posture and misalignment.”
“When your shoulders are slumped or rolled forward, you decrease your lung capacity because you can’t take a deep breath,” said Cherniawski. “It also reduces the oxygenation of the blood.”
The first step to having good posture is awareness. Bring your attention to your posture, whether you are sitting, standing or lying down.
If you’re sitting, keep both feet on the floor or footrest; don’t cross your legs and use low back support. While standing, keep your knees slightly bent, relax your arms and pull your shoulders back.
When you’re sleeping, your best posture is either sleeping on your back or on your side, never on your stomach, according to Cherniawski.
“Sleeping on your stomach causes your lower back to bow, creating an excessive curve in the lower back,” she said. “Constantly turning your head from one side to the other causes a misalignment of vertebrae in your neck.”
The best position for sleeping is on your back with a soft pillow under your head and a pillow underneath your knees, according to Cherniawski. If you’re a side sleeper, use a firm pillow under your head and a pillow between your knees. Read more…