You may hear a lot about how modern life is destroying our posture, but why exactly is this so important?
Certainly, time spent at desks, driving, or bending necks over cellphones—along with the sedentary lifestyle many people now have—has meant that postural issues are extremely common even in young people, but many people don’t even know that their posture is incorrect, so surely it can’t be doing that much harm?
You Don’t Realize How Much Better You Look and Feel Until You Fix It
While posture issues may seem trivial, they can be at the root of some of those general aches and pains you experience – or even more problematic things like sciatica. A stiff or clicking jaw, muscle tension in the neck and upper back, and all kinds of other musculo-skeletal pain can be relieved and prevented by adopting good posture.
Additionally, poor posture makes you look bad. You can look instantly more streamlined and more graceful in your movements just by adjusting your posture, and once this has become habit, and the muscles involved have strengthened and rebalanced, this can be how you look all of the time.
Posture Helps You Stay Fitter as You Age
Have you ever wondered why some people in the 70s are sprightly and youthful, and others are hunched up and slow moving? Take Mick Jagger, for instance, who as you can see in this great article at livelongstayyoung.com, has remained incredibly fit and energetic in his early 70s thanks to healthy eating, exercise, and, yes, work on his posture.
As we age, our muscle mass tends to diminish and fighting the forces of gravity working against our bodies becomes harder. When you have good posture, the muscles you use when standing, walking and even sitting are well balanced and engaged, and this makes it easier to keep a good body position and to perform exercise properly when you get older. Jagger’s posture is exceptional, and while he does have a team of trainers to help him, there is a lot you can do by yourself to achieve better posture now and for the future.
How to Improve Your Posture
Some elements of posture you can actually improve just by being mindful of them and correcting them whenever you notice that you are doing them. It doesn’t take long for your muscles to get used to what will at first feel like an odd position, or for your brain to adopt this as habit.
As an example, if one or both of your feet points outwards instead of straight ahead as you walk or stand, this is a problem of your hips being rotated. Simply straighten out your feet and the whole leg and hip will follow. Do this every time you notice you’ve got ‘duck feet’.
You can use a similar approach to correct holding your head too far forward, or overextending and locking your knees backwards. Other postural problems like anterior pelvic tilt may require more effort and some exercises to fix, however if you research postural issues and test your own posture, many common problems are ones you can adjust yourself for free.
Posture means more than simply not slouching, and it can make a big difference to your life now and in older age to work on it.
Photo by Courtney Clayton
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