Redefining Posture

What’s Your Posture Story?

When you hear the word posture, what does it conjure up for you? Confidence? Power? Pride? Good health?

Or does it bring back childhood memories of hearing:

“Sit up straight!”
“Shoulders back”
“Elbows off the table!”
“If the Queen of England showed up for dinner tonight, would you slouch like that?”

Or maybe posture is something you are mindful of, but would like to be better at and make valiant attempts at sitting or standing up straight, only to find yourself rounding your shoulders, sliding down into a low riding position in your chair and well, giving up and trying again the next day?

If so, you are far from alone.

Go into any Starbucks and you will see a sea of people hunched over their devices. Look around your office and we will bet money that you will see at least a half dozen people with their necks bent down busy texting, looking at their phone screens or slouched in front of their laptops. It’s a bit of a mess. But the good news is that good posture is within easy reach and easier than you think to attain.

Posture Redefined

Before we delve in, let’s start with what posture is and isn’t.

Posture is in its simplest term, actively respecting the natural alignment of your body which is at the foundation of maintaining great posture anywhere in your body.

Posture isn’t supposed to be effortful. It should never be about forcing yourself into a position, tightening muscles or straining to “sit up straight” or force your shoulders back.

Posture is about learning how to use your body and do things like sit, stand, bend, lift, type, mouse, text, walk, run, breathe and do pretty much any activity comfortably and without strain.

Posture isn’t just about sitting and standing “straight.” It also applies to how you use your wrists, hands, fingers, feet, legs, neck, shoulders and of course your back.

Adopting healthy postures that are appropriate for the activities that you are doing will feel better, give you greater endurance and help you steer clear of injuries. So, let’s break down some important elements of posture so you can improve yours!

Back Basics

We’ve all been told that in order to be able to comfortably sit with an upright balanced position, we need to have a neutral pelvis, maintain the natural curves of our spines and have good alignment with our ears lining up over our shoulders, our shoulders over our elbows which align over our hips and if standing, hips over our knees and knees over our ankles.

What we might not have been told are the things that take us off our game.  So, watch out for the following:

  • Low lines of vision.  Think laptop screens, tablets, phones and documents.  Your eyes will follow what they are looking at and take your head, neck and back with them.
  • Reaching for your things. If you find yourself reaching up or forward to reach your keyboard, mouse or to-do list, it’s a safe bet to say that when you reach, you are distorting your posture which can be happening throughout your day.  The takeaway?  Keep things close to you.
  • Learn from standing. When you stand, unless there are muscle imbalances or an inherent posture issue, you tend to stand with your body in alignment.  It is rare to see someone standing while they work with a rounded back and slumped shoulders.  When you stand, notice how your shoulders are back neck and head enjoying their place balanced over your spine and when you sit, simply bend your hips and legs to sit and maintain your standing posture from the waist up!

 

Hand Basics

When it comes to using your hands, which you use for just about everything, when was the last time you gave any thought to your hand’s posture?  It’s time to start.

  • Wrist Alignment.  Few things will trip you up faster and more severely than using your hands with your wrists bent back, drooped down or twisted off to the side. (Hello typing, mousing and texting!)  Start to pay closer attention to the positions of your wrists, especially if you want to steer clear of aches and pains.
  • Use Your Natural Curves. Did you know that your fingers have a natural curve to them?  To prove it, drop your hands to your sides and take a peek at your fingers.  Are they straight?  Curled?  No.  So in your everyday activities honor the natural curves of your fingers.
  • Ease Up.  When you type, mouse, text, write, cook, clean and just about any and everything else, pay close attention to the amount of force and pressure that is needed to do the activity as opposed to how much force and pressure you are actually exerting.  And if you are overworking, ease up.  It will not only feel better, but it will also make your task at hand easier to do.

 

Legs & Feet

Poor posture can lead to muscle imbalances and affect how and where we bear our weight when standing, sitting, walking and bending which can place a lot of strain on your knees and feet.   But the position and placement of your knees and feet can also have a direct impact on your posture which can lead to trouble. So be on the lookout for things like:

  • Sitting Side Saddle (Twisting) – this is commonly seen when there’s clutter under your desk and you wind up sitting with your torso facing forward and your knees and legs off to the side, causing you to twist your spine.  
  • Sitting With Your Knees Higher Than Your Hips – can cause your pelvis to tip backward and that in turn can cause you to slouch. 
  • Sitting or Standing with Pidgeon Toes – otherwise known as having your toes point towards each other vs. pointing straight in front of you, can put strain on your feet, ankles, knees and hips. 

 

Want to add to the conversation?  Please do so in the comments!

 

 

 

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