How to improve your posture naturally
What do we mean by good vs bad posture?
Posture is not a constant state of being. It’s always changing. Our bodies are constantly moving so we can’t expect to have perfect posture all the time. But overall, we want to have at least a “good” posture. But what is meant by “good” posture? Inherently, we can look at someone with bad posture and know they have bad posture, but what constitutes “bad” posture?
Good posture is best described as a general position of the body that allows for the least stress on the joints and allows for optimal function. In contrast, we can say that “bad” posture is when the body is in a position that does NOT allow for proper function and ADDS stress to different parts of the body.
Now, we can be in bad posture and not necessarily feel bad, but over time, bad posture habits will add up. For example, if the head is too far forward, then it adds a lot of stress to the muscles of the neck and upper back. These muscles need to pull much harder to keep the head up. Just a 2-inch change in position can add up to 50 lbs of strain on your neck and shoulders.
After even more time in this bad position, not only do we see tight muscles, but we can start seeing changes in bone. Your spine can change shape and abnormal stress can lead to bone spurs and degenerative disc disease. Once these spurs form, there’s not much that can be done to reverse them. Leave this alone for too long and the bone spurs can eventually lead to fusions.
How can I tell how my posture is?
An easy way to evaluate your own postures is to ask someone to take at least 2 pictures of yourself standing up: one from the front and one from the side.
When looking at yourself from the front, your eyes, shoulders, and hips should be level. Also, the midpoint between your eyes, shoulders, and hips should make a straight line down. From the side, the center of your ear, the top of your shoulder, your hip, your knee and your ankle should all be in a straight line.
After looking at this, you’ll be able to see where your posture tends to stay and fix it from there.
How do I fix bad posture?
To fix bad posture, there are a few different steps. 1. Stretch the tight muscles, 2, Strengthen the weak muscles, 3. Set your body to good habits.
Stretch the tight muscles. When someone has bad posture, there are muscles that tend to be tight all the time. In order to decrease the stress on the body, these need to be identified and stretched so that they can loosen.
Strengthen the weak muscles. Just as some muscles are tight, there are others that are already stretched and thus weak. These must be strengthened through specific exercises that help these muscles stronger and keep you upright.
Set your body to good habits. Your daily habits are going to ultimately determine if any of these previous steps are going to be effective. Are you looking down at your phone? Do you lean forward when using the computer? Are you doing anything else to help?
What to do next?
It sounds simple, but you must follow these steps consistently for there to be any noticeable change.
In the next couple of posts, I’ll be diving deep into what you can do to fix and maintain good posture and overall better health. I’ll be splitting them up into the upper body and lower body sections. Stay tuned!