6 Benefits of Good Posture

Do you remember the movie, The Princess Diaries? You know the scene when Queen Clarice (Julie Andrews) ties Mia (Anne Hathaway) to her dining chair using an Hermes scarf to force her to sit up straight? While it may look silly, and while many of us may not have $300 to spend on the ultimate posture accessory, Queen Clarice may have had a point. Not only does posture make you look like royalty, but there are proven health benefits to having good posture. Here are six ways good posture can benefit your overall health:

  1. Proper alignment helps prevent headaches. When your neck isn’t properly aligned, tension strains the muscles in your neck resulting in increased pressure in your head.  
  2. Proper posture can help your digestion. When you slump in your chair, you are compressing your organs and slowing down your body’s ability to digest efficiently. 
  3. Keeping your devices at eye level can help  alleviate “tech neck.”  When you tilt your neck down to look at your phone, laptop, tablet, book, or anything else, it’s like adding 60 pounds of pressure to your neck. 
  4. Sitting up straight reduces tension in your lower back. According to Healthline, when you slouch it puts pressure on the posterior structures (the back part) of the spine, including the facet points, intervertebral discs, ligaments, and muscles. 
  5. Proper posture can increase your lung capacity. Much like your digestive system, when you sit improperly your lungs are compressed. Sit up to breathe better. 
  6. Proper posture can help with decreased risk of abnormal joint surface wearing. As we get older, our joints wear down over time. Maintaining proper posture can help make sure that this wearing down occurs evenly throughout the body. If you’re sitting or standing is uneven, it’s likely you’ll experience more pain and discomfort in the future.

What does good posture look like? 

For lower back: move around frequently, approximately every 20 to 30 minutes. Sitting with perfect posture takes a LOT of work. When you start to feel fatigued, get up and move around. Then reset. 

Consider using a lumbar roll or a rolled towel to support the lumbar curve in your lower back. This will help support straighter posture and alleviate the potential for uneven sitting. 

For headaches: take note of how you’re sitting. Put a sticky note on your computer screen or set a reminder to encourage you to sit with good posture.

For increased lung capacity: remember to sit on your sit bones (ischium) versus your tailbone (coccyx); tilt your pelvis forward slightly while sitting. This helps position your torso upwards, which will help your breath support. 

For improved digestion: While sitting, make sure your hips are all the way back in the chair. Your feet should be planted at 90 degrees on the floor to improve your support. You can use a lumbar support or rolled towel along your low back to help maintain this position. Your shoulders and neck should be relaxed and your arms should be at 90 degrees. 

For shoulder and neck tension relief: Check in with yourself to make sure your ears are above your shoulders. Instead of using your the muscles on the back of your neck, make sure you’re using your front neck muscles to hold up your head. 

These 6 exercises will help you reinforce good posture throughout the day. 

If you’ve been slouching in your chair day after day, switching to sitting up straight may feel hard at first. According to Healthline, here are a few exercises you can add to your day to strengthen your body, which will help you to improve your posture: (follow along with this video: 6 Posture Stretches)

  1. Chin tucks to strengthen your neck muscles:
    • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
    • Move your chin towards your chest, like you’re trying to make yourself have a double chin. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, and repeat up to 10 times. 
  2. Neck stretch to relieve tension in your shoulders and neck:
    • Stand up straight. Slightly tuck your chin towards your chest. You should feel a stretch in the back of your neck and across your collarbone. Hold for 3 seconds and repeat 15 times.
  3. Bridges to strengthen your lower back:
    • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
    • Engaging your core muscles, lift your hips and torso off the floor by contracting your gluteus maximus muscles.
    • Hold at the top for 5 seconds, then lower your hips back down and repeat up to 10 times.
  4. Hip flexor stretch to relieve tension on your lower back:
    • Begin in a lunge position with one knee on the floor and your leg extended behind you, toes on the ground (you might want a pillow under your knee for this one).
    • Your other leg should be at 90 degrees, with your foot planted on the floor. Lean your core forward and lean into your planted knee.
    • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. 
  5. Roll out your spine to improve circulation and relieve tension in your middle and upper back:
    • Using a foam roller, lie on your back with your feet on the floor (knees up) and place a foam roller beneath you; place the foam roller horizontally at the bottom of your shoulder blades. Use your hands to support your neck.
    • Using your planted feet, slowly move your spine over the roller.
    • Hold for 5 seconds while taking a deep breath, then move 1 to 2 inches at a time, upwards towards your neck.
  6. Stretch your chest muscles to relieve tension in your chest:
    • Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart.
    • Interlock your fingers behind your back and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
    • Hold this position for 20 seconds and repeat 3 times.

References: 

  1. Jonaitis, J. (2018, September 18). These 12 Exercises Will Help You Reap the Health Benefits of Good Posture. Retrieved April 17, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/posture-benefits#2
  2. Goodman, E. (2016). True to form: how to use foundation training for sustained pain relief and everyday fitness. New York, NY: Harper Wave.
  3. Huizen, J. (2018, May 21). Sitting positions for good posture. Retrieved April 17, 2020, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321863
  4. Sexton. (2018, April 24). 8 Facts You Should Know About Posture. Retrieved 17, 2020, from https://www.alignedmodernhealth.com/8-facts-know-posture/

Leave a Reply