We all know that we probably should stand up straighter, but we don’t always know why we can benefit from it. Having good posture not only makes you look taller, but it also has major benefits for your health in the long run. Being aware of the health benefits of good posture is great motivation to stand up a little bit straighter. Here are the differences standing up straight can make in your life – and tricks to make this habit a little easier.
Benefits of Having Good Posture
There are so many health benefits of having good posture that can help you live a comfortable life and prevent health problems. When you find yourself starting to slouch, keep your health in mind and stand up a little straighter.
- One of the biggest benefits of having good posture is a purely aesthetic one. When you stand up straighter, you look much taller and more commanding. This can help you out in social situations where you want to look impressive, like a work meeting or an important date night. It’s a very subconscious thing, but many people will take you more seriously when you stand up straight.
- Better posture can also help reduce any chronic pain you may have throughout your neck and back. If you spend a lot of your time slouching, you will find it puts undue strain on your lower back, which can create muscular tension and pain. Slouching also puts strain on your neck, particularly if you are jutting your head forward or down to look at your phone. This can lead to chronic pain not only in your neck, but also throughout your shoulders and upper back.
- Frequent slouching can also lead to tension headaches, which are very uncomfortable and can make it difficult to be productive at work. When you stand up straight, you are less likely to develop muscle imbalances that can lead to a headache.
- Good posture is also highly beneficial for the digestive system. When you curve your lower back in poor posture, it compresses your stomach and other vital organs. This compromises their ability to work properly, and can lead to indigestion and other issues. A straight spine allows your digestive system to work without any blockages.
Tricks to Improve Your Posture
If you feel like you struggle to stand up straight, you’re not alone. So many people struggle to maintain good posture throughout their day. However, with some practice, it gets easier to have correct alignment throughout the day. Here are some tips and tricks you can use to improve your posture.
- One of the easiest ways to improve your posture is with strength training. When you have a strong core and strong upper body muscles, it’s easier to hold your spine in the correct position with minimal effort. There are many ways you can go about doing this. One of the easiest options is to do pilates and supplement with some targeted strength training exercises. The great thing about these exercises is that you can do them anywhere once you learn the basics, as long as you have a mat. You can probably find yoga and Pilates classes at your local gym, but there are also plenty of yoga and Pilates classes available online that you can check out.
- Another major cause of poor posture is sitting at work all day. There are times when you aren’t going to have a choice about sitting down at work, but you can get a new desk chair with better lumbar support to hold your spine in the correct position. If you can’t afford to get an entirely new chair, look for a lumbar support pillow you can put behind your back during the day.
- The shoes you wear can also have an effect on your posture, particularly if you are on your feet throughout the day. A good way to deal with this is by getting supportive insoles for your shoes. You should also avoid wearing high heels outside of special occasions. Heels force you out of alignment in order to balance, and can lead to poor posture in the long run.
- Be aware of the way you sleep – sometimes the position you hold at night can actually influence your posture during the day. If you don’t have a supportive mattress, consider investing in a new one or getting a memory foam topper for your existing one to provide extra support. Ideally, you should be sleeping on your back or your side, which puts less strain on your spine. Make sure you have a supportive pillow under your head, but not your shoulders. Having a pillow below or in between your knees can also be helpful. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach, which can force your back into an unnatural curvature.
- Sometimes you just need a little reminder to stand up straight. There are a few ways you can remind yourself to check your posture throughout the day. One good strategy is to enlist a friend or coworker to give you a signal every time they notice you slouching. This is a good option because sometimes you might not even realize that your shoulders are slumped forward. Another good solution is to tie a string around your wrist or finger. Every time you look at the string or notice it, assess your posture. Over time, it will become a habit to stand up straight, and you won’t have to think about it anymore.
Standing up straight can be a difficult habit to get into at first, but with some practice, it will get much easier. Now is the perfect time to start increasing your awareness of your posture. Not only will you look and feel stronger when you have better posture, but you will reap the health benefits in the long run. People with good posture experience less chronic pain and are less likely to have issues like headaches and digestive problems.
Written by Dr. Brent Wells Dr. Brent Wells is a chiropractor in Wasilla, Alaska, and founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab. A native of California, he holds a doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College in Oregon. He is a member of the American Chiropractic Association. In his free time, he enjoys volunteering, hiking, and spending time with his family.