Written by Jack Boardman
The Difference Between Good and Bad Posture
The difference between good and bad posture can be a matter of health as well as appearance. Not only that, but your posture can also affect your strength and endurance. This is because your posture affects your spine strength and breathing.
Poor posture is often the result of muscle tension. If your back muscles and joints are in good shape and you still have problems, make sure you are not doing any of the following:
- Slouching in a chair
- Sticking your bottom out
- Standing with a flat back
- Leaning on one leg
- Hunched back and ‘text neck’
- Poking your chin
- Rounded shoulders
- Cradling your phone
Factors contributing to your posture include fatigue, foot placement, joint or muscle problems and age. Standing up with a straight back involves your back muscles, which, if tired, will have difficulty. When the back muscles begin to struggle, the spine and shoulders slump, causing bad posture. For the same reason, people can expect their posture to worsen as their muscles age and naturally become weaker.
Foot placement is integral in good posture as, if you remain in an unnatural pose for too long, or place your feet in a way that makes your knees bend and back curve, your posture will be affected. This is the reason corrective and comfortable insoles are often prescribed to rectify back problems. Correcting your posture can initially feel uncomfortable because your muscles will have become accustomed to sitting and standing in a certain way. As with most muscle development exercises, the key is practise and repetition over time. Essentially, you are training your muscles and strengthening them in areas they lacked.
Don’t stay in one position too long. If your job involves a lot of sitting, for example in an office or a car, make sure you get up to stretch once in a while. This doesn’t mean performing yoga in a meeting room, but rather that your muscles don’t begin to stiffen. If you’re stuck in a long meeting, try not to slouch, but at the very least, adjust how you’re sitting once in a while.
A well-aligned body will ideally mean that your shoulders are back and relaxed, you pull in your abdomen, keep your feet roughly hip-width apart with your weight evenly balanced on both feet, and with your head straight, legs straight with relaxed knees. Posture correcting exercises will also benefit people who consider themselves to have good posture already.
Try These Exercises:
Plank: Depending on your core strength, we suggest you aim for three sets of 60 seconds. Resting on your forearms on the floor, straighten your back with your buttocks neither below or above your waist. With time you’ll be able to move your elbows further forwards, putting further strain on your core.
Side-lying leg raises: Lie on your side with your legs straight. Raise your straight leg outwards and up in slow movements. Try three lots of 20 on each leg. When you improve, vary the angle of your leg.
Hip flexor stretches: Step your left leg forward, keeping both feet pointing straight ahead. Keeping your back leg straight, bend your front leg and push your right buttock forward until you feel a stretch across the front of your right hip joint. Hold for 30 seconds on each leg.
Standing thigh stretch: Standing up straight, hold your foot behind your back, pulling it towards your hamstring. Hold for 30 seconds on each leg.