From an early age we have been taught that sitting tall, holding your head high is important for your self-esteem.
But besides looking poised and professional, have you ever wondered why having good posture is so important how it benefits you healthwise?
According to Gabriela Tidbury, a registered biokineticist at Virgin Active, good posture ensures that the body is aligned, and allows you to move efficiently and effectively and therefore reduces the risk of injury.
Tidbury says good posture should be viewed from all angles, front, back and side. “Although this may differ from person to person it is ideal to have a good alignment of head, shoulders, back, hips and lower limbs.”
If you are sitting in front of a computer for most of the working day, it might be difficult to maintain good posture, but she suggests you focus on keeping a neutral head and spine positioning, and ensure your hips, knees, and ankles are aligned.
Docter Rene Cailliet, author of Forward Head Posture and former director of the University of Southern California’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, wrote that leaning or hunching forward too much can affect your lung capacity by 30%.
When your lungs do not perform as well, your tissues, including your heart and brain, do not receive as much oxygenated blood. This can lead to shortness of breath, clouded thinking, heart and vascular diseases. He also added that our stomach and intestines rely on movements known as peristaltic movements to push food through your intestines. Poor posture can affect peristaltic function.
Marvin Jacobs from the UCT Sport Science Institute of South Africa says bad posture can put unnecessary strain on other muscles and can also lead to possible constriction of some nerves. There are quite a few factors that people need to understand when it comes to “correct” and healthy posture.
“First, confidence and professionalism are very evident but from a physiological viewpoint a good posture allows for easier and more effective breathing as well as delaying the onset of fatigue due to stresses.”
He says a simple way of making sure you are in your correct posture, is to look into a mirror to see if your posture looks straight and upright.
“Make sure that when you do stand upright that your weight is evenly distributed through your entire foot - including your forefoot and hindfoot. Then try to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Being conscious of this movement does help and when you find yourself standing or seated for an extended time be aware of your posture,” he says.
He also suggests exercises for back muscles and core to prevent poor posture.
If you are sitting for most of the time, be mindful of your posture by setting a few time limits, such as getting up every 20minutes to walk around your desk, and regularly pull your shoulders towards each other.