Good Posture Helps to Improve Health – To Your Health by Lori Stambaugh, RN BSN, Community Educator

It’s a New Year and the time for everyone to get started with their New Year’s resolutions. One simple resolution you can make that would be easy to stick to is to pay attention to your posture.

We all remember being told as a child to “sit up straight.” Turns out, that was good advice. Good posture can not only reduce back pain and make you appear taller, but also provides many other health benefits. Here are the top 10 reasons to maintain good posture:

1) Reduce Back Pain

If you have ever experienced back pain, you are not alone: four out of five adults experience it at some point in their lives. In fact, back pain is the third most common reason to visit the doctor’s office and the leading cause of disability.

While that sudden sharp zing in your back may strike swiftly, chances are the condition that triggered it didn’t develop overnight. Improving your posture, while sitting, standing, and exercising, can have a big impact on pain.

2) Improve Circulation and Digestion

When you don’t practice good posture, you compress vital organs. This can lead to poor circulation and makes it harder for your organs to work well. To keep healthy blood flow, be sure to keep yourself aligned and avoid positions which impede circulation, such as crossing your legs.

3) Reduce Headaches

Poor posture can cause headaches since slouching builds pressure in the neck muscles and head. One common problem is a forward head posture. For each inch your neck bends forward past a neutral position, you create an extra 10 lbs. of weight on your neck. Maintaining good posture can help eliminate tension and reduce headaches.

4) Increase Energy

Having good posture allows your joints and bones to align correctly. This means your muscles don’t have to work as hard, which gives you more energy and makes you feel less fatigued.

5) Decrease Stress on Your Joints

When you sit or stand with uneven or poor posture, it can lead to stress on your joints, wearing them down more quickly, and leading to pain. Strengthening your core and lower back is one way to improve your posture to reduce stress on your joints.

6) Increase Lung Capacity

Good posture improves your breathing. When you slouch, you compress your lungs. When you sit and stand taller, your lungs have more space to expand.

7) Prevent Injury During Exercise

Poor posture while exercising can lead to injury. To avoid muscle strain, focus on keeping your neck in line with your spine and your shoulders back.

8) Ease Tension in Your Neck and Shoulders

When we are properly aligned, the joints and ligaments are less stressed and less subject to constant overuse. Avoid a forward head posture that puts strain on your shoulders and neck.

9) Reduce Jaw Pain

If you experience pain while talking, yawning, eating, or have chronic headaches, it could be caused by poor posture that puts stress on your jaw muscles. Focusing on relaxing and loosening your jaw and practicing good posture can help alleviate this pain.

10) Appear Taller and More Confident

Not only does having good posture make you look taller and more confident, but it can also make you appear slimmer. Try standing in front of a mirror with normal posture, then straighten your posture and see the difference for yourself.

Pay attention to your feet. If you have a problem with your feet, it can change the way you walk to subconsciously avoid pain. This can cause poor posture, affecting your spine, especially your lower back. If you experience foot pain, it’s important to see your doctor to determine the cause and fix it so that it does not lead to back pain.

Poor posture can also lead to knee pain. The nerves to your legs branch directly off the lower spine. If you have knee discomfort, it’s important to evaluate your posture. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine if a problem in your back is causing your pain so you can take steps to alleviate it.

Focus on improving your posture to improve your overall health. If you suffer from back, neck, or jaw pain, talk to your healthcare provider to see if your posture is contributing to your discomfort. Have a conversation to discuss what you can do to keep yourself aligned while standing, exercising, and sitting. If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact us at the Henry County Medical Center FindLine at 731-644-3463.