8 Reasons to Have Good Posture

“A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind.”

- Morihei Ueshiba

Your parents were right – Posture is Important!

Posture“Sit up straight!” “Don’t slouch!” – I’m sure we’ve all heard those admonishing words more than once from our mother when we were growing up. And most of us begrudgingly complied with her command having no concept of the anatomical and biomechanical rationale behind her persistent prodding. In fact she probably wasn’t aware of all the implications of poor posture herself! But somehow, some way your mother always seemed to know best.

Think about it. The first thing you notice about people is not their eyes, not their hair, not even their clothes. It’s their posture. And it screams messages about who they are. Someone who stands erect gives off an aura of pride and self-confidence, while someone who slumps and stoops looks like he’s ashamed to be taking up space.

Yet looks aren’t the best reason to improve your posture. Health is. What begins as merely an unsightly stance or carriage can lead to authentic health problems if not corrected.

But what is good posture anyway and why is it so important? Basically posture refers to the body’s alignment and positioning with respect to the ever-present force of gravity. Whether we are standing, sitting or lying down gravity exerts a force on our joints, ligaments and muscles. Good posture entails distributing the force of gravity through our body so no one structure is overstressed.

So, here are eight more reasons to have a ‘correct’ healthy posture:

1. Portrays a better, more confident image.

Good posture will boost self-confidence. Try this: take a deep breath and stand straight. Do you feel better? More confident?

Also look around a crowded dining area or cafeteria some time, and notice how many people are hunched over their meals. Then try to spot someone who’s sitting tall in their seat, raising their fork or spoon to their mouth instead of pitching forward to grab the next bite. Doesn’t that look more elegant? Which person looks poised and confident to you?

2. Breathing becomes easier and deeper.

Try this: sit down and bend over and try to breathe in. Notice how it is harder to breathe. This is an extreme example of how our muscles and tendons get over restricted and cause a lessening of depth and ease in breathing.

People are often asked to sit up straight. This rarely has permanent effect because by the time someone needs to be reminded to do so, their body has adapted to be more comfortable in the slouching position. When they attempt to sit up “straight” they actually tighten the already over-shortened frontal muscles and tendons and this causes restrictions in the ease of breathing volume; tightening these muscles even slightly to make oneself more erect causes tightness in the entire upper body and reduces the ease of deeper breathing.

We intuitively do not like this and soon adjust back to where it was easier to breathe. That is why most people that are advised to sit up straight, remain erect for only a few minutes before reverting to the former slouch where breathing is a little easier. Their breathing is still held back from being fully deep, easy and balanced. For them it becomes easier and more what they have become accustomed to.

Often what we perceive as satisfactory is a lack of adequate understanding.

3. Improves circulation and digestion.

Good posture increases lung capacity, aiding oxygen transport and nutrition around the body. Upright open posture also allows more room in the abdominal cavity, this improves your health by allowing your organs to function more easily.

4. Makes you look slimmer and younger.

When having a good posture you will instantly take off 3-5 lbs in your appearance. It will also make you look slimmer, younger and your clothes will look better.

5. Your voice will sound better.

If you maintain good posture when you speak, and are careful not to let your chest “collapse” as you exhale, your diaphragm will open, making your voice sound better.

6. Help your muscles and joints.

Good posture helps us keep bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in degenerative arthritis and joint pain. It also reduces the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the likelihood of injury.

A good posture allows muscles to work more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy and, therefore, preventing muscle fatigue. It also helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and even back and muscular pain.

7. Change your frame of mind.

Posture also affects your frame of mind and your frame of mind can affect your posture. So, when you are well, feeling happy and on top of things, posture tends to be upright and open. In contrast, people who are depressed and in chronic pain, often sit or stand slumped.

Next time you feel depressed or you’re anxious about something try changing your posture, stand up straight and breath deeply. Good posture in sitting and standing makes it easier to breathe fully and naturally, helping both relaxation and concentration, many Eastern practices such as yoga and tai-chi work on posture.

8. Healthy spine

Correct posture is a simple but very important way to keep the many intricate structures in the back and spine healthy. Back support is especially important for people who spend many hours sitting in an office chair or standing throughout the day.

Not maintaining good posture and adequate back support can add strain to muscles and put stress on the spine. Over time, the stress of poor posture can change the anatomical characteristics of the spine, leading to the possibility of constricted blood vessels and nerves.

To achieve good posture you must make it a habit by keeping your shoulders back, abdomen pulled in, your head lifted and chin parallel to the ground. This won’t be easy if you are not used to it because you will have to build the muscles that keep your body in the correct position. It will take patience and practice. When you make a decision to work on your posture don’t expect it to happen overnight but rest assured it will improve and you will see and feel the difference.

So, what are you waiting for? Start improving your posture right now!

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17 Comments

  • Bill says:

    Thanks great reasons.

  • Ala says:

    Great post. But I was looking for more proven ways of fixing the posture. I mean just trying to remember to set up straight isn’t gonna last enough. You almost always forget that after a while and unintentionally go back to your old posture.

    Any tools or proven ways to do that ?

  • Torgeir says:

    I sit on an inflatable gym ball, 65cm in diameter. It really helps with the posture since my muscles are constantly at work. Moving around a bit on the ball also helps against muscle fatigue, and there’s no seat back to slouch back to.

  • The question is, how do you avoid seriously hurting yourself if you slip off an inflatable ball? Seems kinda hard to fall out of a chair…

  • pik says:

    Sitting up straight is energy inefficient, it merely acts a primitive display of excess physical energy.

    Judging people on there visual appearance is both ignorant and lame.
    What do we want to strive to be? Superficial, pretentious?

  • Bob says:

    Be careful about standing up too straight. I ended up with a very messed up back because of it. And my posture did not look like the one on the far right of the picture. The military and marching/running on a screwed up knee probably didn’t help either. But standing up too straight was one of the reasons that the doctor gave me for why my upper back was messed up instead of my lower.

  • I’ve had a lot of success with Alexander Technique. They teach exactly that you can’t “try” to have good posture. In fact doing so can be counter productive.

    Eric

  • Trina says:

    I agree, posture is important. I also agree on the eight reasons. But I think it is important to add that good posture shouldn’t be forced by muscles which will only lead to another set of problems, maybe similar to what Bob has experienced. If you want to achieve good posture you should start from the feet up. Your weight must be equally divided between the ball of your foot and your heel, and between the outer and inner side of your foot. Then make sure your knee joint is “loose” – not too straight and not too bent. Your hip joint shouldn’t be pushed neither forward nor backward. And this is when you take a deep breath and imagine opening your breast cavity upwards and outwards. Relax your shoulders – the shoulder girdle should hang relaxed allowing your arms to hang free at the side of your body. None of this should need any major muscle effort. It takes practice though, but if you do it several times a day it makes wonders. Torgeir, yes the gym ball is super. But if you are above 180 cm in height you should use a 75 cm diameter ball. Remember to keep it properly inflated. And no, unless you are seriously drunk you won’t fall off the ball :-)

  • JGiles says:

    Poor posture is an artifact of the environment, not some sort of lack of willpower. Chairs are not designed to allow comfortable sitting, therefore poor posture.

  • chelle says:

    You can sit straight and have your muscles relaxed at the same time. Good posture does NOT equal tension. Au contraire, when you have a proper posture, your muscles aren’t tense. I’ve learned and experienced this through yoga, and apply it every day for meditation, straight but relaxed. :)

  • chelle says:

    btw, i used to practice Aikido- i really like like that Ueshiba quote…

  • 2BDocPh says:

    Im curring working on my PHD and as part of my dissertation Ive had to research posture. Posture is Health! I have a few more reasons to add the list:
    1. Forward head posture creates tension on the spinal cord because of the way it is anchored to your spine. This tension stretches the blood vessels supplying oxygen to the spinal cord. The spinal cord gets less oxygen, its function decreases. The spinal cord is the path that all messages from brain to body travel upon.
    2. Forward head posture creates tension on the musculature of the back of the neck. The stretching of certain receptors in here causes excessive signal firing into the nervous system. Garbage into the nervous influences garbage signals coming out of the nervous system. The brain and its signals are now interferred with. For more info search ‘dysafferentation’.
    3. Bones in your spine will remodel, changing its density, and sometimes adding spurs in response to stress. The idea is to have healthy posture to properly dissipate force.
    There is a plenty more researched reasons I could present but not without being brevity. I had amazing results in my health and life overall after I had my posture worked on as part of my thesis. I never knew how badly I was accelerating the degeneration of my spine. What I had done is the best and most researched postural correction today. I saw a Clinical Biomechanics of Posture (CBP) specialist Doctor of Chiropractic. To find one near you I suggest you check out http://www.idealspine.com . I hope this has been helpful. :)

  • Katie P says:

    The best tip that I’ve found for aligning your body in correct posture is to lift your chest up. In a slouched position, the chest caves in, but in good posture, the chest should feel like it’s lifted up. Lifting your chest up naturally places the shoulders in a pulled back position without strain and levels the chin/head with the floor. This helped me simplify the whole process so I can practice it more often and hopefully make a permanent habit.

    Your 8 tips are great! I’m saving them to read every day to help me remember why I’m doing this.

  • seo4growth says:

    Torgeir – you mention the ball prevents you from slouching, but how does it prevent you from falling forward? or it that via the muscle controlling? Can you use that for long hours?

    i should try that as i find immense pain in my shoulders, which i think is from bad seating.

  • michelle says:

    nice article. just perfect for a speech about proper posture. :)

  • back pain in my mid30s says:

    Don’t forget to make sure your pelvis is neutral too. opening up the chest and pulling back shoulders is step 1. making sure you are not arching your lower back (no swaybacks) is step 2. star early with good posture and avoid back surgery in your 30s and 40s. Wish I knew this 20 yrs ago and I am the picture of health but my spine is not.

  • Afsda says:

    Thanks! Now I feel more enthusiastic towards good posture. Great article

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