Why Proper Posture Is Crucial and How To Fix It

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A discussion about a person’s wellbeing usually includes eating right and exercising. Posture is often left out even though it’s among the most important factors of staying healthy and strong.

Standing up straight and not slumping your shoulders will keep you fitter in the long run. Otherwise, even though you don’t feel it right away, poor posture is taking a huge toll on your spine, shoulders, hips, and even knees. You are guaranteed to feel the effects of that later in life. They come in the form of chronic back pain, fatigue, stiffness, headaches.

Good posture means your bones are aligned the way they are supposed to and your muscles, joints and ligaments can work without pain. More than 80 percent of Americans complain of back problems. They emerge because of tight, achy muscles directly caused by years of bad posture.

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Many different factors can cause poor posture so you need to be on the lookout. Some of them include sleeping on a bad mattress, being overweight, wearing the wrong shoes, improper sitting and standing, and stress.

“It’s hard to stay reminded that your posture may not be right,” Kendall Lou Schmidt, personal trainer, group fitness instructor and coach, says. “Be aware of what your tendencies are.” Some people sit for long periods of time. “I squeeze my shoulders back” when that happens. Some of her clients, she says, have notifications on their phones to remind them to get up and stretch a little. “Moving around frequently is like a reset for your body.”

You can’t do anything about the years you’ve already spent slouching or the sedentary lifestyle – both of which are major factors for poor posture because your muscles have become shortened and stiff – but you can fix the situation.

First thing’s first: Check your posture. One way to do it is with by wall sitting. As your buttocks are touching the wall, distance between your lower back and the wall should be between one and two inches; the distance between you neck and the wall should be two inches.

You can lay on the floor as well, Schmidt says. Use something solid. It will give a physical contact that makes you more aware if you have a problem with your posture.

There are many things you can do to fix your posture but you have to be careful which are right for you. “You can always do too much and overwork can be a problem,” Schmidt says. “People’s deviations can be completely different.” You make be doing back exercises but the muscles in you lower back are tighter than in the upper back and the wrong workout can make the problem worse, Schmidt adds. “I wish there was an easy answer to when do you know how to stop but there isn’t.” If you are not sure what you’re doing, you should talk to a therapist.

Here are several general methods to fix your posture.

1. Avoid the slouch when walking

2. Sit up straight

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3. Take standing breaks if your job requires you to sit for a long time

4. Sleep on a firmer mattress. It provides proper back support by helping to keep your shoulders straight

5. Practice yoga

6. Stretch often. Squeeze in a few exercises while you wait around for anything. Place your elbows at your side, and touch your shoulders with your hands. Keeping your hands on your shoulders and your ears aligned, raise both elbows, hold for two seconds, and lower them back down. Do as many repetitions as you can.

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Back exercises at the gym:

1. Strengthen the muscles across your upper back and shoulders doing planks, stability ball row, single-leg hip extension.

2. The new crunch, or curl-up

3. Dumbbell Side Bends

4. Back Extensions

5. Pilates Swimming

6. Shoulder Rolls

Keep in mind that the exercises you are doing must be specific to your posture, Schmidt says. And be persistence. “People are not patient enough and throw in the towel,” she adds. “Stretching 5-6 times a day won’t fix the problem. Do it several times a day. Make a commitment. Progress will come but slowly.”

More readings: 

5 Exercises for Better Posture

Improve Your Posture: Tips for Healthy Computer Use at Work [Infographic]

4 Simple Ways to Improve Your Posture While Running

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