“Sit up straight!” “Don’t slouch!” I’m sure we’ve all heard those admonishing words more than once from our mother when we were growing up. And most of us would roll our eyes and as soon as mom walked away we’d slump back over in a hunch. Little did you know that she wasn’t just annoyed with how you were standing or sitting, there is a reason behind the madness! In fact she probably wasn’t aware of all the implications of poor posture herself! But somehow, some way your mother always seemed to know best.
What is good posture anyway and why is it so important? Basically posture refers to the body’s alignment and positioning with respect to the ever-present force of gravity. Whether we are standing, sitting or lying down gravity exerts a force on our joints, ligaments and muscles. Good posture entails distributing the force of gravity through our body so no one structure is overstressed.
While I was getting certified as a CPT (certified personal trainer) through ISSA, they often bring up the importance of good posture while exercising and weight training. I learned that posture affects how you walk, run, jump, lift weights and execute other skills. Because of its many benefits, such as ease of movement, good balance of muscle strength and flexibility, proper positioning of the spine and proper functioning of internal organs, your body “feels” good and you therefore feel good!
As if, mom telling us to “straighten up!” wasn’t enough. Here are seven other reasons good posture is important for your health.
Good posture will boost self-confidence. Try this: in front of a mirror, take a deep breath and stand straight. Then slump over with poor posture. Repeat a few times. See the difference!? Think of the people around you that you “see” as confident. Many of the people I think of do stand tall and have very good posture. It definitely portrays confidence
In doctor’s offices we are often asked to sit up straight while listening to lung sounds. This rarely has permanent effect because by the time someone needs to be reminded to do so, their body has adapted to be more comfortable in the slouching position. When they attempt to sit up “straight” they actually tighten the already over-shortened frontal muscles and tendons and this causes restrictions in the ease of breathing volume; tightening these muscles even slightly to make oneself more erect causes tightness in the entire upper body and reduces the ease of deeper breathing.
When it comes to the digestive system, proper posture allows the internal organs in the abdomen to assume their natural position without undue compression, which can interfere with the normal flow and function of the gastrointestinal apparatus. An improper, slouched posture has been postulated as a contributing factor to several digestive problems from acid reflux to constipation and even hernias.