Posture is the way a body is positioned. Good posture places the body in a position where it is in a natural alignment, allowing weight to be properly distributed to muscles and ligaments. This distribution lets muscles work efficiently, providing the body with optimal performance and decreasing the wear and tear on joints. When a body works as intended, organs and the nervous system are able to function to their fullest. If poor posture is a result of weak or tight muscles, visiting a chiropractor (or colloquially called “back doctor”) can provide needed relief, but problems in posture are most often simply a result of bad habits.
To obtain good habits, a relaxed or neutral spine needs to be achieved. A neutral spine retains three natural curves: a small hollow at the neck’s base, a roundness at the midback, and a small hollow in the lower back. Many people attempt to overcompensate their posture by standing too straight, but this can actually remove the natural curves the spine needs to function best. A truly neutral spine is relaxed, and is not rounded forward or arched back.
There is a misconception in society that good posture needs to feel rigid or should take a lot of work. While changing habits can be a bit strange at first, good posture generally should feel relaxed and comfortable and provide you with natural back relief. When in doubt, a chiropractor, such as Walk In Chiro here in Boise, is always an excellent resource to provide guidance and answer questions.
Benefits of Good Posture
Holding your body in proper alignment reduces tension throughout the body, particularly in the neck, back, and shoulder. Proper posture can not only increase your height by up to an inch, but can also help reduce shrinking that happens in old age. This increase in height and lengthening of the frame makes you look slimmer, more confident, and even appear more trustworthy. It also reduces the body’s production of cortisol, a stress hormone, allowing for better moods, increased focus, more confidence, and a greater ability to relax. An improved alignment can also be enhanced through chiropractic care. This combination allows for better organ function which leads to better digestion, better breathing, and increased memory and learning.
How to Achieve Good Posture
When standing, the ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should align and the chin should be parallel to the floor. Keep most of your weight on the balls of your feet and not your heels. A loss of balance from a gentle push on the sternum generally means that too much weight is on the heels. To test for rounded shoulders hang your hands down by your sides. If your thumbs face forward then the shoulders are properly aligned. Don’t overcompensate your shoulder alignment but drawing your shoulder blades together, this is not a natural position and causes muscles to tense up.
Good posture is more difficult to maintain when sitting as we tend to slump, slouch, and let the chair do the work of our skeleton. When sitting, ears and shoulders should be aligned and relaxed. Be sure to rest feet flat on the floor with your knees and hips bent and 90 degrees. Avoid crossing your feet. This may seem more comfortable, but it actually messes with alignment and puts stress on joints and muscles. Elbows should also be bent at a 90 degree angle.
Being conscious of posture goes a long way in improving it. While it may take time, adjustment, and maybe a visit to a chiropractor to reteach and correct years of bad habits, good posture is more than worth it!