Somewhere between 50-80% of Americans complain of back pain during their lifetime. Poor posture is one of the main contributing factors that cause back pain.
Besides looking like a shy person, what's the big deal about having bad posture?
Actually, it is a big deal. Without proper posture, your health can quickly deteriorate and prevent your muscles and joints from working in an optimal way. Poor posture also plays a role in how you feel and certainly in how you look.
Read on to learn the signs of bad and good posture. At the end take our posture test to rate your posture.
Effects of Bad Posture
Poor posture can cause poor blood circulation in your body. It can also cause chronic pain in your neck, back or shoulders.
Chronic fatigue has been linked to poor posture. It also limits your range of motion and if left untreated, bad posture can result in herniated discs and misalignment of the whole body. Learn more about why good posture matters.
But many people who have bad posture don't notice they do. How they sit and stand feels normal to them. Our posture test below can help you determine where your posture ranks.
What is the Proper Standing Posture?
Proper posture doesn't always feel correct. Especially if you have been slouching for years.
When you stand up, your head needs to be in a neutral position. It should not lean forward. Your ears should line up with the middle of your shoulder.
Both your upper and lower back should be straight. Slight curves in the small of your back and at your shoulder blades are normal.
Your hips need to be in good alignment with your shoulders and with your knees. Look down at your knees and check that they line up with the middle of your ankle.
It may be difficult to assess your own standing posture. A full-length mirror can help. Or have someone take a picture of you so you can examine your posture and compare it a model of proper posture.
Proper Sitting Posture Guide
On average, people spend 10 hours a day sitting. From working at a desk, driving to and from work, having dinner and watching TV in the evenings, we do a lot of sitting.
Besides standing and walking as much as possible during the day and taking breaks from our desks often, the next best thing we can do is have excellent sitting posture.
The first step is to adjust your desk, computer or workstation so that the height is right for your eyes to look ahead. You should not have to flex your neck to see your work.
Your ears should line up with your shoulders, that means no leaning forward. Your shoulders should be pulled back and sit in the middle of their sockets. Some people have a habit of protracting (or rounding) their shoulders.
Your feet should rest flat on the floor. They should not be tucked under your chair or stretched out in front of you. Do not cross your legs either.
Your weight should be evenly spread out between both hips and your feet.
Take a Posture Test
You can take a posture test at home without any equipment. You will need someone's help to take a measurement with a ruler or tape measure.
First, stand against the wall, with the back of your head touching the wall. Place heels 6 inches out from the wall.
Your buttocks and both shoulder blades should be touching the wall. Have someone measure the space between your neck and the wall. Also, measure the distance between the wall and the small of your back.
Both these measurements should be less than 2 inches. If the measurement is greater than 2 inches, you likely have poor posture and a curved spine.
Ways to Improve Your Posture
The good news is that you can re-train your body to have proper posture. You can make several lifestyle changes that will naturally help you improve how you sit, stand and feel.
Improve How You Sleep
Make sure your mattress is firm to give your spine proper support. Avoid using more than one pillow as that can cause strain on your neck and the top of your spine.
Learn to sleep on your side or back instead of face down. When you sleep on your stomach, it causes strain on the cervical vertebrae.
Get into the habit of stretching before you lie down at night. This will help ease any muscle tension.
Lose Extra Pounds
If you are carrying around excess weight, now is the time to shed those pounds for good. Being in the right weight range for your height can do a lot to improve your posture.
Make exercise a part of your schedule. When you strengthen your muscles, especially your core, your body will have the strength to fight gravity and keep you upright and in proper posture.
Practice Good Posture Everyday
When you walk, stand, sit or run, make sure you are practicing good posture. If you notice that you are slouching or returning to previous habits of bad posture, correct your alignment right away.
It does take work and dedication, but you will feel a huge difference inside and out as you work to make proper posture a natural state of being.
We hope you found this post on proper posture helpful. Make sure to take the posture test repeatedly to track your progress. You might be surprised how quickly you can correct bad posture.
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