Good posture is like eating your vegetables. You know it’s important and can help with your overall health and wellbeing but you may not know exactly how it helps or how to implement those habits into your everyday life.
Attaining good posture is similar to creating any healthy habit — it requires focus and energy in the beginning and gets easier as your posture becomes more naturally aligned. But getting started with good posture can be a little daunting. How do you know what posture is good? And how do you ensure your “good” posture won’t create more aches and pains in the future?
When facing these uncertainties, it’s a good idea to consult a professional who specializes in bodily alignment. Check out the rest of this article for some clarification as written by Dr. Brent Wells, an expert Anchorage chiropractor, to get a trusted opinion on how to improve your posture.
Why is Good Posture Important?
Having good posture is beneficial to your bodily processes. Your posture contributes to how your muscles engage and relax, how your organ systems function, and how well you can move throughout the day.
But striving for good posture is a slight misnomer. What is good posture for one person might not be the same for another because of different body shape and size? Instead, focus on having the correct alignment for your body. Alignment refers to the positioning of muscles and bones in relation to one another. Having correct alignment means that your supporting muscles aren’t working overly hard (or not working hard enough) to support your frame.
Posture is something we generally don’t think about. Like breathing, our muscles tend to do it for us so we don’t have to devote mental energy towards the activity. The problem with this largely unconscious process is that over time our muscles can become weak or improperly trained to hold our bodies in a less than optimum position. And if our poor posture continues over time, it can be a hard habit to break.
To recap, proper posture is so important because it keeps our bones in correct alignment so that their supporting muscles are used correctly. That alignment helps protect our muscles and joints from excess stress and misuse, which can cause lasting physical pain. Maintaining the proper posture for your frame can help improve your overall health and wellbeing.
How Can You Improve Your Posture
When you’re ready to improve your posture and enjoy the benefits of doing so, it’s a good idea to check in with a chiropractor. He or she can analyze your posture and then prescribe a customized set of exercises to restore strength and balance to your postural-support muscles.
Unlike a quick web search for posture-related exercises, your chiropractor can create a plan of action specific to your body. This is important because your posture is unique to you. While an article online might assist in cultivating a posture that helps you stand tall, it may not be addressing specific muscular weaknesses you’ve developed with poor posture. Your chiropractor can also make adjustments to your spine and other joints to eliminate abnormalities that encourage improper posture.
If you are looking for online resources to improve your posture, take a look at what the American Chiropractic Association suggests as the proper posture for sitting, standing, and laying down.
When using exercise to help improve your posture, it’s a good idea to follow a few simple guidelines:
- Take your time. As you engage with posture-improving exercises it can be tempting to push your body hard when you’re first beginning. Try to avoid this impulse. Just as working hard at the gym can leave your body tired and sore, so can strengthening your alignment. Especially if you’ve had poor posture for a long period of time, it will take patience to build the strength in the proper muscles needed to hold you tall.
- Keep an eye on your posture. While a set of strengthening exercises done daily can have a good impact on your posture, engaging with good alignment is a practice you can maintain throughout your day, as well. As mentioned above, you don’t want to force your body into proper alignment too quickly. But checking in with your posture throughout the day and making small adjustments can help you reach your alignment goal.
- Muscle strength is key. As you use exercise to improve your posture, it’s important to focus on strengthening throughout your whole body. Your core is the portion of your body that does the most work in holding you up. Work your core with dynamic exercises that strengthen the entirety of your abdomen — your belly, sides, and back. You’ll also want to engage in exercises that strengthen your neck and shoulders. Working evenly through the shoulders helps to keep you from hunching over when you sit or stand.
- Focus on your foundation. All structures sit on a foundation. And if that foundation is wobbly or weak it can undermine the structural integrity. We often don’t think of our feet and legs when striving for better posture. But your foundation is just as important as the strong foundation of a house. By working through your legs to build strength and stability and grounding down through your feet you can build a solid foundation for the rest of your body to depend on. Without that firm foundation, your posture will likely suffer when standing, walking or running.
Strength-building exercises are a great way to naturally correct poor posture and feel more comfortable in your body — both inside and out. Building strength throughout the postural muscles of your body will help you alleviate current aches and pains and avoid future problems. If you want to discuss your posture and ways we can work together to make it better, contact our chiropractors to make an appointment. You may be surprised to learn how easy it can be to stand tall.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells is one of the leading chiropractors in Anchorage who believes in treating people the way he would want to be treated. Born and raised in Southern California, Dr. Wells received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nevada and his Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine degree from Western States Chiropractic College. He, his wife Coni, and their three children live in and enjoy the great outdoors in Alaska. Dr. Wells volunteers for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Foundation and can be found hiking or rollerblading when he isn’t playing his guitar.