Posture generally refers to how an individual holds up their body and “correct” posture refers to the proper alignment of one’s spine when performing activities such as sitting or standing. In this day and age where people spend most of their time sitting, posture has become more important than ever. It provides numerous benefits, one of which is preventing muscle strain. When thinking of good posture, most think it is merely keeping one’s back straight. That is actually inaccurate. The correct posture is achieved when an individual aligns the spine in an “S” shape, which the spine naturally looks like.
When observing an individual’s body from the side, ideally their spine should be curved in a few spots. For instance, the cervical spine, which is the top portion of the spine, makes up the neck and should be slightly curved out. Moving downwards, the next portion of the spine is the thoracic spine, or upper portion of our back, and it should curve out a little bit as well. The next part down, the lumbar spine or lower back, should begin to curve in slightly. A variety of activities can cause bad posture, and many experts agree that bad habits are the most common cause. Fixing your poor posture is relatively simple, however it does require one to make a conscious effort, and it is something one must do indefinitely.
When attempting to maintain proper standing posture, one can imagine a line bisecting the body at the side from the top down. Beginning from the ears, this line ought to pass through the shoulders, down through the hips and knees, and finally through one’s ankle bone. Experts say that one’s head ought to be straight and held up, not leaning forward or back or to the sides. Furthermore, one’s earlobes should be in line with the center of the shoulders, which should be retracted back to be parallel with the hips. One can then stand with his or her feet at a distance shoulder-width apart to evenly disburse the weight.
When sitting down, maintaining an upright posture is just as important. In a seated position, good posture can be kept by placing the feet flat on the floor and the knees at approximately the same height as the hips. Similar to standing, one’s shoulders should be retracted back and parallel with the hips. When sitting in a computer desk, one should not slouch forward or slump into their chair. One should also get up to stretch and walk from time to time as a break. When sitting down, make sure there are no gaps between the back and the backrest otherwise they can become pockets which the back can slump into when one fatigues.
There are numerous benefits of having correct posture. The most important advantage is that it is healthy for the body and reduces wear and tear, particularly the muscles, joints, and ligaments. Oftentimes, simply sitting and standing with correct posture will alleviate pains and aches. It not only affects one’s physical health, but it can give one a better, more confident appearance which can raise one’s self-esteem.
Generally, obesity and other health issues like spinal conditions are the reason one develops poor posture. However, most experts agree that the most common cause of bad posture in healthy individuals is simply bad habits like slouching or slumping that leads to poor posture. In order to maintain healthy posture, one should take the steps necessary to lead a life conducive to good posture. For instance, try not to carry overstuffed backpacks, or wear high heeled shoes, or sit in chairs without a backrest, because these can all lead to poor posture eventually.