I think we’ve all lost count of the amount of times our parents used to nag us to ‘stand up straight’, ‘sit up properly’, ‘and stop slouching’. I know if I had a pound for every time my mum said it to me I would be sat on a million.
But there is actually a reason why you should make efforts to stand up straight, sit properly and stop slouching.
First of all, have we even ever thought about what posture actually is? The dictionary defines posture as the position in which someone holds his or her body in sitting, standing or even when lying down.
Without posture and the muscles that control it, we would simply fall to the ground. So that in itself is important. We can’t spend our lives on the floor, and we certainly aren’t designed to do so.
I’m a huge believer in ‘good posture, not perfect posture’, and I aim to educate this to my clients every day. There is no such thing as perfect posture, but we should all be striving for good posture.
Good posture is a very powerful and useful habit to adopt. When we practice good posture it places less strain on your body’s ligaments and muscles. It helps keep our bones and joints in alignment, to allow the muscle groups to be used correctly and equally, decreasing the amount of abnormal wear and tear on the joints.
It’s not all just about the joints though; good posture allows us to decrease the chance of muscle strains and other overuse conditions.
It’s all very well being educated around why good posture is important, and hopefully that makes us want to make a more conscious effort to do so. But what next? How do we actually break years of bad posture habits? Can you actually fix it?
Here are my five tips that can propel you forward to achieving enhanced posture:
1. Awareness: Awareness is key. Being aware of your current posture is the only way you’ll acknowledge what needs changing. Everyone is different therefore understanding your own postural habits are vital. Don’t just fix what you think you should just because its what the general population needs to fix. Seek advice from a musculoskeletal professional to find out your current postural imbalances.
2. Little and often: Posture is the result of what we do day-to-day, 99% of the time. It’s the repeated movement patterns we carry out, and not all of them being ideal for good posture. So with that in mind if you’re going to make a change to structures and joint alignment you need to tell your body that that’s what you want it to do, to make THAT your 99%. One gym/stretch session a week for an hour isn’t going to cut it. That’s only 0.005% of your whole week!!!!
3. Actually correct the right structures: Many of us stretch repeatedly and never feel like there’s any benefit. That might be because your muscles don’t need stretching. Muscles can feel tight because they are actually weak. When a muscle is weak it is long in length and already being stretched out, and so feels tight. By stretching it all you are doing is adding to the lengthening, and therefore never getting rid of this ‘tight’ sensation (and in fact making it worse). We should actually in some circumstances be strengthening these muscles NOT stretching them. Therefore its important to consult a therapist and find out which muscles you should actually be stretching.
4. Address your confidence and mood: We all know that when we are at our best we stand tall and proud. When we are feeling down we slump and want no one to notice us, therefore shrink our size, rounding over. The more you can put yourself in feel good situations, the more you’ll find yourself standing tall with good posture and then the little and oftens addressed in point 2 will simply get taken care of themselves, and posture no longer has to be such a conscious effort.
For more information regarding common postural imbalances and how to fix them follow my upcoming Instagram posts over at @siobhandocksey. It might seem difficult to fix bad postures, but this week I will show you how it really doesn’t have to be!