I find myself talking about posture OFTEN. It is extremely important and I don't think many understand the circumstances of bad posture. I am going to dig into it slightly and give you some insight.
I was 16 years old and taking ballet classes for nearly 3-5 hours a day. I remember the day my teacher took me and stood me against the mirror and told me to make my whole back touch the mirror. I didn't know any better, so I did it. I kept my spine like that and danced on it for years to come because I thought it was correct. My goal was to be a professional dancer in ballet and modern when I grew up. That dream was crushed when I was chronically injured in college from bursitis in my right hip. Whenever I dance it flairs up and let me tell you, it is PAINFUL. It wasn't until I was in my last year of college dancing that another teacher pointed out my spine and lack of flexion. It was the best correction I had ever received but unfortunately the damage was done. I'm not trying to tell you my pity story, but I'm trying to warn you. Bad posture can RUIN you if you aren't cautious.
First off, your back is NOT straight! Nor should it be! Our spine has natural curves in it. When you sit down in a chair, sofa, or car, you should ALWAYS have space between your lower back. If your back is completely touching the back of the chair you have BAD posture. Look at the picture above. There is slight curvature in his lower back and in his neck. The best way to check your spine is by lying down on the ground. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the ground and place a small book underneath your head. Slide your hand underneath your low back. There should be space there. If there is no space you must rotate your pelvis until you can slightly slide your hand under your lower back. Try both extremes (flat and hyperextended) and find the middle between the two.
Now you probably want to know what happens when you DON'T practice good posture. You really want know? With out good posture the body doesn't function properly and therefore you can't function at your optimal level. It isn't easy to practice since most of us sit behind computers all day and work in a forward motion (leading to muscular imbalances) but it important. Practicing bad posture leads to shoulders rounding forward, forward chin, weak lower back, tight hips and hamstrings and belly bulging. Since you aren't allowing the spine to do the work, your muscles, tendons, and ligaments are forced to support the body and over time they conform to "out-of-shape" shape. What is worse, when you try and take up a sport or hobby you are more prone to injury! Hello runners! Ever heard of tight hamstrings and tight hip flexors? How about golfers and disc problems? If we all performed with PROPER form these would all be less likely.
A slump of a spine can't do its job as a shock absorber nor can you breath properly. Ever notice when you are out of breath that hunching over makes it worse? Instead, stand tall and put your hands behind your head. This elongates your spine and helps open up your diaphragm. Poor posture restricts blood flow through the muscles and makes it harder to remove metabolic waste, including lactic acid. So the blood just accumulates and hangs out increasing chronic strain on the entire back.
Poor posture can be fixed with a little thought and effort. Concentrate on sitting properly, not leaning forward, not looking down at your phone constantly and being aware of how you "carry yourself." Your body will thank you!
In good health,
Cristina Walterman, owner of CW Physique, let's you in on fitness and nutrition tips, recipes, exercises and much more. With over 8 years of experience in the industry, she loves to inspire and motivate individuals. She always practices what she preaches and leads by example.