Remember when your parents or teachers implored you to “stand up straight” or “stop slouching?” Somehow it seemed that this was just an empty directive, but did you know that working on good posture actually benefits your health?
Dr. Benjamin Cohen treats patients experiencing many types of painful conditions, from degenerative disc disease to spinal stenosis. His expertise and technical skill have freed many patients from pain and enabled them to enjoy their favorite activities again.
As part of his treatment, Dr. Cohen always recommends lifestyle habits that can help stave off some of these unpleasant conditions, and one of these is good posture practices.
What do we mean by “good posture?”
The way you hold your body can be broken down into two categories:
- Static posture is the way you hold your body when you’re still, such as when you’re sitting, standing, or lying down
- Active posture has to do with how you hold your body when you’re moving, like when you’re walking, running, or lifting something
So, what does it mean to have good posture? Your posture quality can be traced to your spine, which has three curves: at your neck, your mid-back, and your lower back. When you maintain good posture, these curves are relaxed and neutral.
What does good posture look like?
To practice good posture, it helps to have a visual image in mind, so picture this:
- Your chin should be parallel to the floor
- Your shoulders should be evenly positioned, back and above your hips
- Your core muscles should be strong (your mid-body muscles)
- Your hips and knees should be even, with knees facing straight ahead
- Your arms should be by your sides, with elbows straightened
- Your spine should be neutral
- Your body weight should be evenly distributed over both feet
These good posture tips apply to when you’re standing, but when you’re seated, your chin should remain parallel to the floor, your knees and feet should be forward-facing, and your shoulders, hips, and knees should be at even heights.
Strengthening your core improves your balance, which helps you exercise using correct form and reduces your risk for injury.
Tight muscles, on the other hand, impede your range of movement, while weak core and leg muscles cause you to sway forward and throw your balance off.
Bad posture also leads to other health problems, such as spinal wear and tear (which ups your likelihood of injury), an increased risk of falling, and even digestion problems.
The many health benefits of good posture
As a spine surgeon, Dr. Cohen promotes developing and maintaining good posture, because it helps keep your spine properly aligned, and he sees and treats a host of spine problems.
You may be surprised at the many ways proper posture can boost your health:
- Reduces stress on your bones and joints
- Promotes better breathing and bigger breaths since your chest is more opened up
- Reduces neck and shoulder tension
- Helps battle back pain
- Improves self-esteem (you move and walk with more confidence)
Modern life sabotages proper posture in many ways. The desks we work at, if not set up with proper ergonomics in mind, can cause us to hunch over for hours at a time, and this is harmful for the back and overall alignment. Ditto if you have a job that requires you to stand for long periods. If you’re not standing properly, you’re at risk for back pain and other problems like leg cramps.
With a comfortably and correctly aligned spine, you’re less likely to suffer from osteoarthritis, a painful condition that affects over 32.5 million people in the United States.
Spinal misalignment can also hinder your lung capacity, leading to shallow breathing and headaches.
The advantages of caring for your posture are clear, and being conscious of your posture is a great preventive approach to preserving your health and comfort.
How can I improve my posture?
Certain exercises can improve your posture. Some traditional yoga poses, such as the downward dog and child’s pose, improve your posture, as well as chest-opening movements, high and side planks, and glute squeezes.
Increasing your awareness of whether you’re standing and sitting properly can help you practice better posture, too.
Call our office today to set up an appointment to address any spine issues you may be having, or reach out to us through our website. We offer both in-person and telemedicine appointments to our patients for your safety and convenience.