Learning how to maintain perfect posture is very important. Your health, mental well-being, facial attractiveness, and physique are all dependent on how good your posture is.
If you want to maintain a perfect posture, you need to sit correctly, sleep correctly and do certain exercises. The aesthetic and health challenges associated with poor posture are numerous and severe, so you must do everything in your power to keep your posture as stable as possible.
Your posture is who you are, and affects how your body grows, develops, and maintains itself. Your posture can be the difference between a healthy lifestyle and a poor one. Read on to learn about the importance of perfect posture and what you can do to improve yours.
Why Good Posture Is Important
The quality of your posture can determine whether or not you will have problems in the future.
Posture Increases Height
Since people stop growing after puberty, working on your posture is one of the few things you can do to increase your height. Slouching, anterior pelvic tilt, nerd neck, rounded shoulders, will all serve to make you shorter. Working on your posture will literally make you stand tall.
Posture Affects Mewing Results
Your tongue’s ability to press hard on the roof of the mouth is dependent on your posture. A forward head posture will cause your tongue to stretch out, and you will be unable to have the back third of your tongue resting on the roof of your mouth. Without this proper oral posture, your face will develop poorly. You will be more likely to mouth breathe. Your oral posture is affected by the entire posture chain, starting from your feet, to your hips, and to your neck. For more information about proper oral posture and its effect on form and function, see our Ultimate Mewing Guide.
Good Posture Improves Your Self-Image
Posture is also important for your self-image. Poor posture does not speak well about someone’s character. If you have bad posture, people may perceive you as lazy, messy, and lacking in good qualities. However, an excellent posture says volumes to onlookers. A perfect posture represents someone who is attentive, a hard-worker, neat, and ready for anything. Someone with their back straight and head held high just instantly seems confident.
Poor Posture Cramps Your Bones, Organs, and Muscles
Poor posture limits the amount of room inside your body, which leads to your bones, organs, and muscles becoming cramped. This means that blood cannot circulate freely through the body. If the organs are not getting enough blood, then they cannot get the vital nutrients and resources that the blood cells deliver.
Without these resources from the blood cells, your body will become weak over time. This leads to you being more susceptible to illness and injury.
Poor Posture Leads to Health Issues
Poor posture can lead to several health problems such as headaches, joint pain, muscle spasms, and other health issues. If you continue to maintain poor posture, you will suffer these health problems at an earlier age and become weaker over time. Good posture leads to the opposite of this. If you have perfect posture, your organs will always have room to breathe, and blood can circulate to your body parts easily.
Poor Posture Contributes to Stress and Fatigue
Poor posture can lead to fatigue, stress, and lack of focus. This means your brain will have difficulty operating because of the additional stress. Maintaining a perfect posture can lead to a healthy mindset. The brain will be able to work more efficiently because it can receive blood easily. This will enable better mental focus, and you will be able to complete tasks without getting tired.
In short, posture may not seem very important, but it can affect your life across various spectrums. Good posture is dependent on the condition of your spine and muscles. The spine resides in your back and is made up of smaller bones called vertebrae, which protect the spinal cord. Your spine can withstand the pressure of gravity and serves as the joining point for the bones of your body.
Although your muscles are made out of soft tissue, they do a great job of keeping you up on your feet. Your muscles not only serve as a defense wall for your bones and organs, but they help you maintain your balance, so you do not fall. Your spine and muscles are constantly fighting against the pull of gravity. Without them, your body would quickly succumb to the effects of gravity.
Your posture affects how well your spine keeps your back straight. Your spine is very flexible, but as you age, it takes on the shape that it has been in for a long time. Improper posture causes additional stress to the spine and leads to many health problems. Learning and constantly maintaining correct posture, keeps the spine in good shape and the rest of your body, healthy and happy.
Problems That Can Affect Your Posture
There are a variety of different issues that go into how good the quality of your posture is. These issues can range from simple health problems to habits you unconsciously do every day. From standing incorrectly, to not getting enough exercise, the smallest things can lead to poor posture.
However, some situations can be harming your posture, even if you are not aware of them. For instance, a spinal injury can have a big effect on the quality of your posture.
The spine is in charge of maintaining your posture, but it is not an organ that can be easily fixed if damaged. The spine is made up of bones and bundles of sensitive nerves called the spinal cord. The spinal cord delivers messages from the brain to the organs and back to the brain. If the spinal cord becomes damaged or severed, the nerves will not grow back.
Fluid build-up, massive trauma, or severe back injuries can lead to massive damage and deformation of your posture.
Some of the damage caused by fluid build-up, spinal trauma, or a brain injury can be undone with therapy and surgery. However, there is a good chance that you will still suffer some deformation from the incident that led to the spinal injury. It is a good idea to take protective measures when doing any activity that could cause damage to your spine.
Bacteria, viruses, and diseases such as meningitis can damage your spine and ruin your posture. If enough damage is caused, the spine will no longer be able to function well.
The stereotypical forward head posture that’s the hallmark of modern life, is the nerd neck. Instead of having a straight profile with your head squarely on top of your shoulders when standing upright, your neck juts forward. This ruins your oral posture and is a huge cause of turkey neck.
The trappings of modern life such as staring at your cell phone, watching TV, reading books, staring at a computer monitor, and more, will all cause and contribute to nerd neck. This is the single biggest postural problem created by the modern lifestyle.
Poor Resting Posture
If you are not suffering from a traumatic experience, but still have poor posture, then there may be a different culprit. Your posture is something that you must be aware of and should always be working to maintain. It is easy to become lax in maintaining perfect posture, especially if you find yourself getting too comfortable.
However, you must be careful to avoid this. If you maintain poor posture for too long, your body will conform to that position, and it will be very hard to undo it.
The type of pressure that you put on your body can affect how good your posture is. A person can develop poor posture by standing incorrectly, sitting incorrectly, sleeping incorrectly, or not getting enough exercise. Below are some things that you may be doing to hurt your posture, along with some advice on how you can improve your posture.
Rounded shoulders are a cause and symptom of nerd neck. When you’re at your computer desk, hunched over, you will develop rounded shoulders. Basically, any time you’re looking down, your shoulders will tend to hollow your head.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Anterior pelvic tilt is caused by weak hip extensors, glutes, hamstrings, and abs. Again, this comes from our modern lifestyle which includes lots of sitting, and lots of leaning over. If you spend most of your time sitting, your hips will adapt to this new position.
To tell if you have anterior or posterior pelvic tilt, look at yourself in the mirror while standing sideways and compare it to the picture above. Remember that a little bit of anterior pelvic tilt is normal. If you don’t see a tilt that’s very obvious, don’t do corrective exercises. You would only be hurting yourself. To get a direct confirmation, visit a physiotherapist or other medical professional.
Posterior Pelvic Tilt
Posterior pelvic tilt leads to back and glutes that are tucked in, also known as Hank Hill ass. Sitting in a slouched position is a big cause of posterior pelvic tilt. With posterior pelvic tilt you have weak hip flexors and erector spinae, but tight hamstrings, glutes, and abdominals.
The entire posture chain begins in the feet. Your body is meant to be tilted slightly forward. Misalignment in your feet can completely change how you distribute your weight and which muscles are stressed. This can stem from performing activities where your center of gravity is off balance. Make sure your squat and deadlift technique in the gym is on point. Do not stomp your feet when you walk and try to have a smoother gait. Make sure that your weight is evenly distributed between your toes and that your ankles are distributing force evenly to the inner and outer edges of your feet. Do not pronate your foot (bend it inwards).
Shoes have given our feet an unnatural support structure that isn’t found in nature. Imagine going to the gym wearing power armor. This is what shoes basically do to your feet. You need to relearn how to run without shoes. As soon as you take your shoes off and go run, you will be working a different set of muscles than normal. However, you need to take it slow because you don’t want to have this lead to injury. Remember, you’ve spent a big chunk of your life not using these muscles. Start off with just not wearing shoes around the house.
Maintain Your Posture by Standing Correctly
Standing up may not seem like a big deal, but there is plenty of work being done in your body to help you keep standing. Your brain is constantly sending messages throughout your body that help you maintain balance, walk without falling down, and keep your spine straight. However, even standing can damage your spine if it is done incorrectly.
If you are tired, you may find yourself slouching a little. Slouching or leaning in a direction for too long is not a good thing for your spine. This is because prolonged slouching causes a curvature to develop in your spine. If you keep continuously curving your spine, then it will remain that way as you age. It is important that you learn to be aware of this and correct it before it becomes a permanent habit.
If you want to have good posture, you must always remember to stand straight. While you do not have to stiffen your body up and stretch yourself, you need to make sure that you are not slouching even a little bit. If you start getting comfortable in slouching, then it will become a habit, and you will hurt your posture.
When you walk through a door, get your chin up, head back, shoulders up and back, and maintain it for as long as you can.
Correcting Posture by Standing
The correct way to stand is by relaxing your body and distributing your weight evenly. Your heels should hold a majority of your weight, and your feet should be spread shoulder-width apart. Avoid bending your knees too much, and keep your shoulders relaxed and to the side. Avoid having any parts of your body stick out over your feet as this can lead to uneven weight distribution; be sure to tuck in your gut and rear.
Your head should not be bent forwards or backward, it should be in line with your shoulders. Relax your spine while maintaining your straight form. With practice, you will be able to hold this form even when you feel tired.
If you are picking up an object, remember to lift with your knees and not your spine. Lifting with your spine can strain the smaller muscles in your lower back and cause long-term damage. By lifting with your knees, you are moving the weight by the larger set of muscles in your two legs and not by the smaller set of muscles in your one spine. Keep your body upright as you lift the object up slowly so you do not strain yourself.
The less pressure you put on your spine, the easier it will be to maintain an upright position and a perfect posture.
Maintain Your Posture by Sitting Correctly
One of the most common things that can affect your posture is your sitting posture. As I stated earlier, your spine plays a large role in how good your posture is. The spine is always resisting gravity to keep you upright. When you sit down, this resistance is increased, and your spine has to work harder to maintain an upright position. The way you position your body as you sit can have a great effect on the form of your spine, which affects your posture.
Slouching over while sitting is not good for the spine. This position curves the form of the spine and brings it closer to the ground where gravity forces it down. Eventually, your lower back will start to hurt because your spine is not meant to be in this position. If you continue to do this over a long period of time, your posture will become hunched over. This can lead to back problems and increase your chances of developing spinal injuries.
Correcting Posture by Sitting
The correct way to sit is with your back completely straight. Keeping your spine straight takes some of the gravitational pressure off of your spine. Do not lean too far back in your chair because you will put pressure on your back and give yourself lower back pain. If you need to, you can put a pillow behind your back to help give your spine some support while sitting. This will make it easier to sit erect without leaning back or forward too much in the chair.
Another factor that can hurt your posture when you are sitting is crossing your legs—crossing your legs while sitting is not completely dangerous. However, if you have been sitting for a long period of time, crossing your legs can lead to more health issues. When you sit down, you cut off a little bit of blood circulation in your legs. This means that the heart must pump harder to get the blood through your legs and back.
Crossing your legs adds more pressure to the blood vessels because now you are putting more pressure on your legs. This also means additional stress for the spine and other organs as they are not getting as much blood. Crossing your legs can mess up the alignment of your spine and pelvis if you repeatedly cross your legs for long periods of time while sitting.
The best position for your feet to be in while sitting is lying firmly on the floor. By keeping your feet straight and on the ground, you are easing some of the weight off your spine and lowering your blood pressure. Doing this can also help keep your back straight so that you do not lean forward or backward. Make sure that the back of your legs is away from the chair itself. This way, there will be no pressure on the blood vessels, and the blood can flow freely.
Make sure to take some breaks if you have to sit down for long periods. Standing up and walking around for a bit will ease the pressure on your spine and help your blood resume normal circulation and pressure. When sitting down, make sure to keep your head up straight and relax your shoulders. Do not lean forward too much or bend your neck too far down as this will cause neck pain.
Lastly, invest in a chair that will support your spine and lower back. The chair should be comfortable for your body and support your spine and legs. When you sit in the chair, your body should be at a 90° angle with your feet firmly on the floor. If you need to, put a pillow in your seat to help support your back. This will help relieve pressure and back pain.
Keep this in mind when you are driving. You want your back to be straight in your seat and your body at a 90° angle. The chair should not be reclined too close or too far from the wheel. Just close enough for you to keep your arms at a comfortable degree while maintaining good posture.
Maintaining Your Posture While Sleeping
To maintain a perfect posture, you must remain vigilant, and constantly work to avoid bad posture. This includes when you are sleeping because the position you sleep in can also hurt your spine. When you fall asleep, your body is usually in the same position for a long time. Although you may move around as you sleep, going to bed in the correct position can prevent the onset of future back pain and muscle stress.
The sleeping position that you should try to avoid is sleeping on your stomach. Sleeping on your stomach puts great pressure on your organs, especially the lungs. It also disrupts the natural curve of your spine and leads to neck pain because you have to twist your head to one side. Continually sleeping like this can lead to pain in the chest, back, and neck. If you must sleep on your stomach, try to put a pillow underneath your body to serve as a support cushion.
Correcting Posture by Sleeping
The best sleeping posture is on your back or your left side. Sleeping on your back helps support and ease the stress on your spine and neck. Your organs are not getting crushed, so they can still do their job while you sleep. Sleeping on your back helps reduce wrinkles on your face because your face is exposed to the air instead of being mashed into a pillow.
If you have sleep apnea or another sleeping condition, you might want to avoid sleeping on your back. Your tongue can block your airway as you lay on your back and cause you to wake up. Unless you have a device to help control your sleep apnea, I would suggest sleeping on your left side instead.
Sleeping on your left side is another good sleeping position because it comes with many helpful benefits. Sleeping on your left side helps your heart to circulate the blood throughout the body, boosts digestion, alleviates heartburn and acid reflux, and helps your body remove toxins. A side note is that sleeping on your side can cause the arm you are lying on to go numb. To fix this, try switching sides every so often to get the blood flowing in your arms.
Make sure to sleep with a pillow that will support your neck. This way, your head will be elevated from the flat surface of the bed, decreasing your chances of waking up with neck pain. If you sleep on a bed that does not fully support your spine, try placing a pillow underneath you to support your back. This can help maintain the proper curvature of the spine as you sleep.
The important thing is that you pick a comfortable sleeping position. If you find yourself waking up with numbness or pain, try changing your sleeping position. Be sure to get a mattress that is comfortable for your back, so you do not wake up with back pain. If you like watching TV before bed, be sure to do this while sitting up. Trying to watch TV while lying down puts extra strain on your neck.
Maintaining Your Posture by Exercising
If you have done all of the above and still have bad posture, try doing some exercises. Exercise is not just a method to lose fat and gain muscle; it helps build flexibility in your spine and helps correct bad posture. As you age, your body becomes less flexible, and you may find it harder to do certain activities. You can slow down this process by doing workouts that promote flexibility and fluid movement in your body.
McKenzie Chin Tuck
This exercise directly combats nerd neck and the forward head posture that we get from our modern lifestyle. Consider this exercise to be the polar opposite of staring at your cell phone. This exercise needs to become your life and you need to do it 24/7. Simply bring your chin back into your face and repeat this as much as you can. Here is a short video explaining this technique:
Stomach vacuums are a huge help with anterior pelvic tilt. This exercise is going to activate your pelvic floor muscles and make sure that your abs look good.
Try to get your anus and your urethra to literally go inside your body. This will activate your pelvic floor muscles. If you have anterior pelvic tilt, pay special focus on squeezing your glutes and your abs in order to rotate your pelvis posteriorly. Many people credit 8 pack abs to this one exercise.
Pull Ups and Face Pulls
Pull ups are key to good posture and fixing rounded shoulders. They tighten your shoulder muscles so that you actually walk around upright instead of hunched over. Get really good at these exercises. Pull Ups are self-explanatory but here is a short video demonstrating how to do face pulls properly.
Simple Posture Exercises
Core exercises, yoga, and Pilates are exercises that can improve your posture and tone your muscles. These exercises work on toning your core muscles, pelvis, and your spine. The only equipment you will need is yourself, workout clothes, and a mat. Make sure that you start slow if you have not exercised in a long time. You will not do your body any good by overworking it. Start slow and work your way up from there.
One pose you can start off with is called the plank, which is meant to help strengthen your core muscles. To do the plank pose, place your forearms and feet on the floor. Stretch your feet out behind you, with the tops of your feet on the ground. Raise your body up until you are stiff and leveled out like a wooden plank. You should only be using your forearms and toes to support your body. Look down at the ground and hold this pose for about 30 seconds.
When the 30 seconds are over, return to your original position. Over time you will be able to increase the amount of time as your core muscles get stronger.
The next pose is called the Cobra pose, and it is a pose meant to stretch out your spine. However, you can strain your back if you are not careful. First, lie down on your stomach and place your palms flat on the ground. Rest the tops of your feet flat on the floor and breathe in and out slowly. Next, exhale and slowly raise your chest up from the floor.
Extend your arms for support as you raise yourself up and curve your spine slightly using your lower back muscles. Do not raise your hips from the floor and do not curve your back too far. Hold this pose for 30 seconds and slowly return to your original position.
Your posture speaks volumes to anyone who sees you. Having perfect posture gives a good impression about you to others and promotes good health. Making little changes in your posture helps improve it greatly, especially through these methods:
- Practice the McKenzie chin tuck religiously.
- Standing correctly affects the quality of your posture. Keep your spine straight, weight distributed evenly on your feet, and avoid putting too much pressure on your spine.
- Sitting correctly eases pressure on the spine and organs. Your organs will be able to breathe, the blood can circulate easily, and you will not develop a stiff back.
- Sleeping correctly will help you relax while maintaining good posture.
- Exercise keeps you physically healthy and flexible. This is the best way to maintain your posture and keep your spine flexible.
Posture trainers don’t work unless they force you to change your posture by yourself. This has to be something that you consciously remind yourself to do because your posture is who you are 24/7. As such, it is one of the hardest things to change.
A perfect posture does not happen overnight. If you want to keep a good posture, you will need to work on constantly maintaining it.