Proper body alignment can have quite an impact on how you look and feel. Poor posture is often the culprit behind ailments like headaches, digestive issues, and neck tension. Plus, did you know that slouching may rob you of your due height? Straightening up can help ease common aches & pains and lift your mood.
Rounded shoulders are usually the result of hunching over for extended periods of time, which can damage muscles, tendons, ligaments -- even disks and bones. For tasks that require a forward lean, such as working over a desk, try bending from the hip rather than rolling your shoulders forward.
The aches and pains triggered by rounded shoulders are often exacerbated by our tendency to exercise the muscles along the front of our bodies – our pectorals, abdominals, hip flexors and quadriceps – more than the muscles of our upper and lower back. This is a double whammy for your posture, as the stronger muscles along your front actually pull your body forward and your spine even further out of its natural, healthy line.
So…what can you do about it? For optimal posture, stand with your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles in a straight line. Your back should maintain the natural “S” curve of the spine, with a slight anterior curve at the low back and neck and a slight posterior curve at the middle back. Too much or too little curvature in the lower back can place undue stress on the disks and vertebrae, setting the stage for muscle strains and disk injuries.
Use these 4 tips to stand tall and feel great:
- Pay attention to your posture throughout the day as you perform a variety of tasks. Notice how you sit working at your computer or driving your car. How do you carry bags of groceries into the house? Check the alignment of your ears, shoulders, and hips. Remind yourself to sit or stand tall and to bend from the hips whenever you lean forward.
- Stretch the muscles along the front of your body. The more flexible they are, the better your chances are of keeping your shoulders back and your torso lifted tall.
- Battle osteoporosis and potential vertebra fractures along your neck and upper back by getting plenty of calcium. Ask your doctor if a supplement is appropriate for you.
- Exercise your back muscles! By strengthening key muscles and connective tissue along your upper and lower back, you can visibly improve your posture.