Who wasn't told repeatedly as a child to stand up straight or sit up straight? And yet, despite this constant reminder, we battle with poor posture as adults. Many people want to improve their posture, however it’s difficult to remember to practice and be aware of our posture in everyday life. Many people also don’t know what a correct and healthy posture should feel like. The way we walk, stand and sit is a habit that is deeply ingrained in us. Anyone looking to fundamentally change their posture and improve their health and wellbeing will require a lot of patience during the process.
Poor posture can cause back and neck pain, breathing difficulties, digestive problems and headaches. In order to eliminate these symptoms, it is important to understand the connection between your posture and the issues associated with it.
The term ‘posture’ refers to the alignment of our body relative to gravity, whether standing, sitting or lying down. Gravity has an effect on the active and passive structures in our body. Good posture evenly distributes these forces and ensures that joints aren't overloaded. Our muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones and fascia structures heavily influence our posture.
Long periods of sitting in particular often have negative consequences: shoulders hunch forwards, the head is bowed and the thoracic spine is unnaturally arched. This results in poor posture. Unfortunately, there are many factors that might lead to poor posture. These include genetics, injury or illness. Other causes of poor posture are a sedentary lifestyle, one-sided stresses in the workplace, lack of mobility and flexibility, muscular imbalances or tension and adhesions in the fascial tissue.
Your body will constantly seek a neutral position. And you should let it. However, it’s difficult to correct your posture while sitting down. We tend to overcompensate for it. It’s therefore best to stand up to ensure your posture is in the right position. The 4-point plan will help you here.
1. Tense your buttocks
Place your feet in line with your hips. Push the soles of your feet into the ground and tense your buttocks. This puts your pelvis in a neutral position and supports the alignment of your spine. Now, release the tension and remain upright at around 20% of the maximum tension.
2. Regulate your breathing
Inhale deeply into your diaphragm. To help, you can place one hand on your stomach and another on your chest. Inhale and exhale deeply 6 times. Make sure that primarily your diaphragm rises and falls. On the last exhale, pull your chest down so that it sits over your pelvis. Maintain this position and continue breathing steadily.
3. Tense your stomach
Tense your stomach as tight as possible. Be sure, however, not to change your posture - don’t hunch. Reduce the tension and maintain the position at around 20% of the tension. This keeps your pelvis and chest in the right position.
4. Hold your head, neck and shoulders in an upright position
Your head, shoulders, hips and ankles should form a line when your gaze is looking forwards. Pull your head back and form a slight double chin. At the same time, align your shoulders in a stable position.
Carry out the 4-point plan whenever you notice your posture starting to weaken. However, you should practice this at least every half an hour. You can also improve your posture with exercises that target your postural muscles.