Many young men and women have been reprimanded by their mothers, caretakers, and teachers for slouching. If told once to stand up straight or pull shoulders back, we were told twenty other times at least. Other than listening to our elders, having good posture can really have an impact on life and overall well being.
To practice good posture, it is important to first understand what having good posture technically means. According to an article on the Harvard Medical School publication site, good posture is defined by a series of stances, including keeping the chin parallel to the floor, rolling the shoulders up, back, and down, maintaining a neutral spine with no flexing or arching, and keeping arms at your sides and elbows straight. For other criteria of good posture, visit the website here.
Armed with a description of what good posture entails, it’s time to hear the benefits of practicing what many have been taught and reminded of for decades. For instance, sitting up straight enables better breathing. The flow of oxygen in and out of the lungs happens much smoother when sitting up straight as opposed to slouching. This increase in airflow also contributes to thought processes and brain activity. Our brains require oxygen to work, and when good posture enables more oxygen to flow then more thoughts will ultimately occur as well.
Good posture also serves as a preventative measure to protect the back from serious injury over time. Consistent slouching and poor posture put people at risk for serious back injuries like slipped discs and lesser injuries like back aches and pains. Other health issues associated with constant neglect to proper posture include chest pressure and poor blood circulation. There is more involved with sitting up straight than just looking professional and confident.
Though there are many reasons to listen to the age-old phrase, “sit up straight”, it is not easy to implement good posture overnight. Listed below are some tips to make good posture a habit.
Set reminders for yourself at home and at work. Create calendar reminders to alert you to sit up straight. Display sticky notes on the entertainment area where the television is that ask you how your neck is feeling. Start with these reminders being frequent then as your body changes and acclimates to its new position you can slack on the reminders and count on your new habit to keep you upright and aligned.
If the reminders are not able to evoke change as quickly as you would like, then use your reminders to signal break periods. During the break, take a minute to sit back, realign your posture, and consciously think about the way you are sitting in your chair. Make it more intentional instead of getting a reminder, correcting quickly, and barreling through the day.
Just keep in mind that parts of the body are actually reshaping themselves to accommodate your new posture, and that process takes time. Do not allow yourself to get so frustrated that you want to give up on good posture. It is worth the hassle and effort to keep practicing and moving forward with a straight back, parallel chin, and rolled back shoulders.