The importance of good posture

Do you find yourself suffering with an achey back from time to time? Are your shoulders sore after a day in the office or have you noticed a difference in the way you stand recently? It could be down to bad posture but don’t worry; it’s not too late to fix it.

We might have rolled our eyes when we were younger at the words “sit up straight” or “don’t slouch”; but in reality, these two nuggets of advice are more meaningful than you might think. The importance of good posture can’t go ignored and is relatively easy to fix should you have had years of slouching, slumping and stooping. Simple strengthening exercises and TRX Training can help significantly.

Those working in an office job, with long hours sat in front of a computer, are at the biggest risk of bad posture; in fact, according to the NHS, 15 million work days were lost in 2013 to back pain, potentially caused or aggravated by bad posture, that lead to long-term sickness. But bad posture is something we can all suffer with no matter our daily routine or career choice. It can be helped by getting up and out of your seat every hour or so to move around or through some simple exercises and changes to the way you stand and sit. Fundamentally, it’s important to know why standing and sitting correctly is so vital.

Why is posture so important?

Put simply, your posture can have huge effects on your body’s overall health and to have a good posture can help limit risk or injury, pain and discomfort. Poor stance can harm your muscles and make them sore and tight; notably, your postural muscles that help keep the body nice and straight. If you don’t have good posture, these muscles have to work extra hard which could overstretch them, leading to aches and pains.

What are the symptoms of bad posture?

The symptoms of bad posture will vary from person to person but common complaints include:

  • Rounded shoulders
  • Back ache
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Bent kness when standing or walking

Who is most at risk of bad posture?

Anyone could suffer with bad posture; it all depends on how you stand, sit and altogether hold yourself. Your lifestyle can, however, make a big difference too; some studies show that those who work behind a desk or regularly drive long distances could be more at risk.

How can I fix my bad posture?

To improve your posture and in turn alleviate those aches and pains, you’ll likely need to retrain your body as it’ll be used to sitting or standing in a certain way. Therefore, an amount of conscious effort will have to be put into practice at the beginning as you teach your body to sit straighter and stand taller; there’s also some strengthening exercises that can help.

Slouching in your chair

Slouching in your chair is perhaps the most common bad posture crime there is. Sitting slumped with little or no lower back support may not feel uncomfortable or painful straight away; but over time, it can really put a strain on your back muscles. Simple strengthening exercises such as planking can really help to strengthen that part of your body to combat the negative effects. Yoga and Pilates are also both great practices to help stretch, relieve and strengthen your back muscles as is Body Balance. Alternatively, ask your boss to look into getting a back support for your chair or get some higher-backed seating at home.

Leaning on one leg

If you’re prone to leaning on one leg whilst standing, this is another sure fire sign of bad posture. If you’ve been sat down for a long time, this position can feel comfortable but in fact, it’s putting excess pressure on one side of your lower back and hips. Lots of parents that carry their little ones on one hip or those that carry a heavy shoulder bag regularly can suffer too. Try to stand with your weight evenly distributed to both legs where you can. Side-lying leg raises can really help to strengthen muscles around the hips and glutes. Just a few a day could make all the difference. Investing in a backpack could also be worthwhile and would help to distribute weight evenly across your shoulders and hips!

“Text neck” and hunched back

One of the biggest identifiers of bad posture is a hunched back and “text neck” that can lead to upper back stiffness and sore shoulders. Being hunched over a computer won’t help, nor will excessive mobile phone usage but both are hard to avoid, especially for office workers. Chest stretches can really help to open up your chest muscles and correct a hunched back as can gentle shoulder rolls. These can easily be done in a five minute break.

What are the benefits of good posture?

Having good posture will undoubtedly lead to less aches, pains and discomfort. But there are also some psychological benefits to standing up straighter; it can make us feel more confident and powerful, particularly in the workplace, for example. What’s more, standing up nice and tall can help us to breathe better, as we allow more oxygen to flow through our cardiopulmonary system. It can even help you to lose weight and build a stronger core.

Our team of Personal Trainers can help you develop a Gym routine or at-home exercise plan to get your muscles working and aligning correctly. Find out more about our gym or find a class to help get your body moving and sitting properly via our timetable.