Posture is far more than the way you stand. It can influence and be influenced by your feelings, attitude, and physical fitness. Good posture helps to increase confidence while making you look taller and stronger. Poor posture could put a major strain on your back and negatively affect your mood.
It’s time to learn the truth about posture and how to potentially correct it — no matter your age or how bad your posture may be.
As mentioned above, posture can directly affect your physical and mental well-being. Physically, poor posture may make you less able to perform certain activities. It might cause muscular imbalances, daily back pain, and poor form when lifting heavy items — which can lead to injury. Aesthetically, it can make you appear less confident, shorter, and even weaker.
All of these negative physical effects caused by poor posture could lead to mental problems, as well. A hunched posture can create a negative self-image. This might result in lower self-esteem and an overall less positive outlook on life.
It’s clear that poor posture is undesirable, so it’s time to turn that weak posture into a more strong, confident, and capable one. The following are a few simple ways you can achieve better posture while improving your mental and physical well-being.
The concept of standing tall seems simple. However, so many of us stand with a hunched back and don’t even know it until we see photos of ourselves. The best way to stand straight and achieve better posture is by keeping your shoulders back, your stomach tucked in, and your feet roughly shoulder-width apart. A key tip is to stand as though you’re measuring your height against a wall.
Your desk is one of the easiest places to let your posture slide. That’s because slouching is naturally more comfortable. The action of leaning back in your desk chair and swiveling is also harmful to your posture. Experts suggest sitting as far back as possible in your chair, placing your feet flat on the floor, and even using a lumbar cushion to help your spine achieve its natural curve.
Smartphones connect us with our friends, family, and the world. Yet these devices negatively affect our health in numerous ways. Tilting your head down to read text messages, browse Facebook, or send emails severely strains the neck and back. All of that looking down — day after day — could seriously weaken posture.
It’s helpful to take breaks from your phone throughout the day. If you can’t do that, adjust how you look at your phone. Lift the phone to your eyes, and be conscious about not moving your neck or head.
One of the best ways to improve posture is through exercise. Certain exercises can strengthen the postural muscles in the upper back and, in turn, improve overall posture.
An excellent exercise for posture is the prone back extension, which involves lying face down on the floor and extending your arms in front. Lift your torso off the ground and hold this position for at least 10 seconds. Repeat this same exercise eight times and perform three full sets, if possible.
Any exercises that increase your back and abdominal strength may be helpful in improving overall posture. Some recommended exercises include pull-ups, inverted rows, bridges, and planks.
A foam roller can be an excellent tool for correcting posture. Lay the foam roller on the floor and run it along the length of your back. Boost the effects of this exercise by holding 5-pound weights straight at your sides. You will feel a deep stretch in the chest and shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat.
There’s no better time than now to start bettering your posture and overall health. Practice the tips above, and you could soon be enjoying the benefits of reduced pain, increased muscle strength, superior flexibility, and an enhanced outlook on life.
Ian Feurtado is Fitness and Wellness Director for Metro Physical & Aquatic Therapy, Long Island’s premier physical therapy company. Feurtado has been with Metro for more than seven years and has helped thousands of patients with his specialized exercise programs.