I remember growing up in grade school and at some point, there was a big school meeting where everyone stood in line while waiting for their turn with the back doctor. They measured you, weighed you, put some weird metal thing around your body in places, which I assume was to see if your spine was straight, and then you got a piece of paper explaining your current health condition. Of course at the time, I couldn’t read nor understand any of those fancy medical words, but the one thing that I did understand, was that my spine was slightly curved. From then on, I remember making a very conscious effort to stand up straight, sit straight, and keep my shoulders square.
Having proper posture is extremely important in so many factors for your health, including neck pain, headaches, lower back pain, muscle spasms, and much more. Although having good posture will not ensure you will never suffer from one or more of those ailments, it does help you stay healthier longer and live a less painful life at an early age.
So what are the official benefits of proper posture as agreed upon by our doctors?
Bye Bye Back Pain
While I did take my grade school evaluation to heart, and my posture tends to be pretty good, I still find myself suffering from back pain. Not because of poor posture but because of my work in the physical labor world as a young adult. Due to the fact that I had to slouch, bend, and contort my body into different positions, I can see why doctors say that the number one cause of lower back pain is poor posture, and when I’m not sitting straight for a certain length of time, the first body part that let’s me know is my lower back.
A Stronger Core
It only makes sense that the core is another area that benefits from proper posture because it is supporting the front side of your lower back. Incorporating pilates and yoga into your lifestyle helps to strengthen your core, awareness and overall well being. Proper posture is great for keeping your muscles slightly engaged, slim, and in their proper places making your body’s natural flow easier and more productive.
Diet and Vitamin D
A balanced diet is also key when it comes to your core and bone health. Getting the adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D are huge factors when discussing bone density and fragility, especially in mature adults. Eating healthy not only slims your waistline, but being conscious of your daily vitamin intake can affect multiple aspects of your bone density. Adding leafy greens, almonds, yogurt and calcium rich foods to your diet helps to retain and strengthen your declining bone health. While most of us do get the recommended dietary intake of vitamin D, it is important to point out that the need increases the older you get. Doctors recommend 600 IU a day for women up to age 70 and 800 IU for women older than 70.
Reduced Neck Strain
Proper posture is not limited to ones lower body, and 99% of my headaches and migraines come from me spending long hours bent over a keyboard. I can feel my neck muscles straining, my shoulders tensing up and the doctors agree that one of the biggest factors of “tension headaches” are neck and shoulder muscles cramping or knotting up.
Have you ever tried working on an important project while not sitting up and using proper posture? Sure you can work, but do you do your best work? Many studies have found that when sitting or standing up correctly, your body responds to this position with more alertness, mindfulness, and energy, making you a more productive person. As we age our bone density decreases, which is the main factor in regards to osteoporosis. By staying active and exercising on a regular basis can decrease your risk of suffering from “Dowager’s Hump” (commonly associated with osteoporosis) much more than those who are sedentary.
Finally, an ego boost for those looking to embrace proper posture. The effect it can have on our self confidence, emotions, and overall well being is actually quite amazing. A person who stands tall, walks upright, and sits with their shoulders square tend to put off more confidence in themselves and to those around them. So if you are looking to boost your confidence, try checking your posture and testing out the theory, you might be surprised at how great you feel.