A Perfect Posture Week
Written by Kim McLaughlin
Posture plays an important role in our overall health. Good posture can prevent back, knee, neck and hip pain; it can also prevent muscle strains, headaches, and impingements. When we align our spine correctly, it allows the diaphragm to expand as it was meant to and breathing becomes easier and deeper allowing more oxygen to be taken in at any given time. Individuals with great posture often look taller, slimmer and more confident.
But with all of these positives, how often do we pay attention to our posture?
Our spine has three curves: lumbar, thoracic, and cervical. All three of these curves should be present when we are sitting or standing in a resting position. Because many of us spend a large majority of our day in office chairs or looking down at our phones to text or check social media, our natural curves may not be so natural anymore. Some of us have been hanging out in poor posture positions for so long that there is tightness in areas that there shouldn’t be while other muscles have stretched and are weaker than they should be. This puts unnatural stress on areas of the spine that can manifest as neck, back, knee and hip pain.
In order to find proper posture, line your back against a wall. Place your feet a few inches out and ensure that your head, shoulder blades, and butt are touching. Your hand should be able to just barely slide behind the small of your back. Take a couple of seconds to get comfortable with how this position feels and take note where your shoulders are – not pulled excessively far back – and where your head is in relation to your spine. Once you pull your body away from the wall you should be able to draw an imaginary line from your ears to your shoulders to your hips. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed across your entire foot and not just in your heels. Pull your bellybutton in toward your spine. This is a natural posture position.
For some of you, proper posture might feel a bit odd. Holding this position for any length of time can seem tiring instead of relaxing. You may be working muscles that aren’t used to working. This is a good thing! Even though it might be slightly uncomfortable in the beginning, this position is actually where the least strain is placed on your muscles, ligaments, and joints in movement or weight bearing activities.
Just like squatting, if you have been practicing poor posture for a while, you will need to train your body to keep proper positioning. To start, challenge yourself to do a “perfect posture week”. Periodically check in with your body and make sure that your head is in line with your shoulders and your hips.
In order to help you maintain perfect posture for seven consecutive days, set an alarm every half hour or hour to remind yourself to straighten up. Tell your friends you are committing to the challenge so they can call you out if they see you out of alignment at any time. Write on post-its and attach them to your computer screen, bathroom mirror, fridge, or any other place that you frequently look. Set yourself up for success and better posture!