Posture is not only a body position but a dynamic pattern of habits, reflexes, and adaptive responses to anything that resist you to be more or less functional and upright like athletic challenges, gravity, abnormal anatomy, and some awkward working conditions.
When you lose the needed stability for a task or start tipping over, there would be postural reflexes to kick in and engage your muscles to pull you into an upright and functional position once more.
Posture is more than just the sum of those parts. It's far more than just a collection of stabilizing and correcting reflexes: "Posture is how we live". It's the shape of flexible container and the physical manifestation of our comfort zone.
Posture can be uptight or apathetic, sad or happy, or fearful or brave. The rewards and challenges when you try to change and correct your posture are not only musculoskeletal, but also a personal profound process.
Effects of Bad Posture
People who have bad posture are wary about the pain that it may cause all over body. Prolonged slouching was linked to several back pain, neck pain, and even migraine headaches.
The pain intensity often depends on the length of time exhibited by a person with poor posture, ranging from mild pain up to never-ending intense pain, which may become debilitating.
What many people don't know is that poor posture will be able to cause lots of other problems in body aside from just pain. Poor or bad posture can cause lower energy and depression as compared to people who stand upright.
Slouching causes a decrease in testosterone levels by around 7% and increase in cortisol levels by 15%. Cortisol is a hormone that causes increase in stress level, and thus, you will be under constant undue stress when you have higher cortisol level than the normal amount required by your body.
Working to improve your posture will lead to 20% increase in your testosterone levels, as well as an essential decrease in cortisol, leading in less stress and more energy. When you reach 25 years of age, every hour that you spend slouching can shorten your life expectancy by as much as 22 minutes.
Furthermore, people who sit more often can increase their risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 147%, an increased risk to develop diabetes even if you exercise.
Popular Bad Postures
Imagine a powerful, strong, and confident person standing in front of you. What do you think is the type of posture that person has? It is a person who is ready to take on the world. Know some of the bad postures that you may have and learn how you can correct them before it gets worse.
It is caused by sitting with bad posture, especially at an office doing computer work. When you sit hunched over a computer screen, your chest muscles are forced to tighten and cause excessive curvature on your upper back. In line with this, relieve the chest tightness by doing self-myofascial release and stretching.
This will also help you strengthen the upper back postural muscles. One of the best exercises is the upper back foam rolling.
2. Forward Head
The muscles in your neck will become tight, as well as the levator scapulae and upper trapezius. The solution is to practice appropriate head posture through head backward sliding. It is also important to keep your line of sight ahead.
Make sure you are not tilting your head in upward position when you slide your head back. After that, it is advisable to get a massage or you can use a massage ball against your upper back as it can be a great help for relieving tension around your neck.
3. Over-Pronated Feet
The common cause of over-pronated feet includes improper footwear, pregnancy, or repetitive pounding on hard surfaces. This will weaken the arch, which results to over-pronation and even flat feet. This posture can add stress to the foot and tighten your calf muscles. It is also able to rotate your knees internally.
Over-pronation usually results to Heel Spurs, Post-tib Tendonitis, Plantar Fasciitis, Bunions, and Metatarsalgia. If the arch was already fallen, the best solution is going to orthotics. If the arch is weak or still in the process of falling, it may help you in strengthening your arches to run or walk barefoot. However, make sure you would check with your orthotics before doing your first step.
4. Rounded Shoulders
The main cause of this bad posture is sitting for a long time, or when you use not balanced exercise routine that requires excessive pressing on the chest. This will force the chest muscles to tighten and thus, may be able to rotate forward the should internally. Posture muscles in your upper back may loosen or weaken.
The solution in this bad posture is the same with correcting your hunchback posture. Using a massage ball, relieve the chest tightness, and do some stretching, while also strengthening your postural muscles in the upper back.
5. Forward Hip Tilt
Determining a forward tilt is a tricky process, but tilting your pelvis forward as far as you can, is an effective method. If you realize that your natural hip tilt is not as far away from your exaggerated forward tilt, you have this bad posture.
Forward hip tilt is caused by not stretching and by sitting too much, leading to shorteniubng of hip flexors. Hip flexors is a group of muscles on your hips, which are pulling the knee upward. This posture prevents the butt muscles or glutes from activating and thus, forcing the hamstring muscles to become excessively tight and overworked. If you have tight hamstrings, the main cause of your forward hip tilt could be an anterior pelvic tilt and tight hip flexors.
The solution here is stretching your hip flexors using the static lunges like crescent lunge. You can activate your butt muscles through exercises like foam roll and glute bridges, and by stretching your hamstrings.
How to Fix Your Bad Posture
Your posture reflects your personality and it has a lot to say about how your muscles and joints work. Get started to correct your bad posture before it’s too late.
1. Being aware: Depending on the time you have spent slouching, it will you some hard work and dedication. The most significant factor to improve your posture is to be aware of your bad posture and to be committed to change it.
2. Exercise and stretching: Another important thing that you need to correct your bad posture is exercising and stretching. Stretching is essential because as you have poor posture, the muscles in your back and neck will be overworked and very tense.
They become used to being in that position and thus, it can be hard to change their muscle memory.
Regular stretching is helpful in loosening your muscles and relieving the soreness and tension. One great way to work on both stress relief and stretching is yoga.
If you do not want to take yoga classes, you will still be able to use some of the stretches and positions that are common in yoga, helping you get on the right track.
3. Dedication: As soon as you have dedicated yourself to correcting posture, you can begin the physical process. Your first assignment is to stand up straight. It may sound simple but breaking your bad habit to revert to your relaxed position is more difficult than what it may sound.
So, it is important to keep it fresh in your mind and remember to correct yourself when you start slouching over again.
4. Strength training: In addition to muscle stretching, you would want to work on strengthening several particular areas. Your back muscles and core are the most essential muscles for proper posture maintenance.
If you do not strengthen your back muscles and core, it will make your muscles overworked and tired when you stand upright. It will cause you to revert to your previous posture position. Some home exercises every day can help you in strengthening your muscles. However, it is very important to commit to your routine.
Keep in mind that the longer you wait, the worse your poor posture will get. Bad posture commonly worsens as time passes by and it will not improve on its own. You will need great commitment and dedication. You will not only feel and look better, but also can you prevent many life-altering complications and diseases down the line.