The link between poor posture and back and neck pain is well-known, but posture also is tied to other aspects of health and wellness.
First of all, “perfect” posture is all about keeping your body over your center of gravity and the three natural curves of your back are in alignment, also known as neutral spine. It’s generally defined as:
Standing straight and tall with your head level, shoulders back, stomach pulled in, knees slightly bent and your feet about shoulder’s width apart.
When seated, especially while working in front of a computer, your feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest, your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, elbows also at a 90- to 120-degree angle, shoulders relaxed, back fully supported, and your head level. Take walking breaks away from your desk every 30 minutes or so if possible — keeping that kind of posture is hard work!
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into a few of the positives you reap from maintaining good posture.
Less neck, back, and knee pain — This is the best-known benefit and what drives many people to work on correcting it. Proper alignment of your neck and spine distributes more weight to your bones and away from joints, ligaments, and tendons not meant for that job, which together help protect these crucial areas of your body from injury and inflammation.
Your digestion will improve — Slouching, or letting your shoulders fall forward, throws your entire body out of alignment and increases the likelihood of acid reflux, bloating, and other digestive issues. It can also lead to constipation or problems with bladder control including leakage and frequent need to urinate.
You’ll breathe easier — When you slouch your lungs are compressed inside your rib cage, and they won’t be able to expand to their full capacity. Chest-opening exercises can help you give them the room they need to get you a good oxygen supply.
Your circulation will improve — Twisting your body into unnatural positions (no matter how natural they feel) also throws your blood vessels, veins, and arteries out of whack. This forces your heart to work harder to pump out an adequate supply and contributes to high blood pressure.
Nerve pain will be alleviated — Incorrectly positioned bones and muscles can put additional strain on nerves, as well. Pinched nerves in the neck cause pain and headaches and in the chest can send pain radiating down your arms. Many of these can be avoided.
Fortifies your core — Core strength and posture are a two-way street: maintaining good posture is key to strengthening your back muscles, abs, obliques, glutes, diaphragm, and pelvic floor. And core-focused workouts help you maintain good posture.
You’ll be more energetic — Because poor posture adds weight to your muscles that they shouldn’t always be carrying around, it can lead to fatigue that’s felt throughout your body. Getting your alignment back will allow you to be more active and likely will elevate your mood along with it.