Slouching, slumping, sinking into the couch night after night? Whether it’s home eating in front of the tv, in bed on your phone, or at work on the computer, chances are you’re like most people, sitting down and practicing bad posture.
Why is good posture important? Simply put, bad posture makes your body work a lot harder than it needs to. When your spine is consistently scrunched and compressed it places added stress on adjacent muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They can become inflamed, sore and achy, causing you to avoid healthy behaviors like exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. Chronic stress and strain on the spine can lead to lifelong back, hip and even knee issues; plus, slouching and slumping diminishes your respiratory capacity, reduces blood circulation, and even compresses internal organs, weakening digestion and perpetuating bad spinal and joint alignment.
With good posture you not only feel and breathe better, but you reduce your risk for injury from back and joint-related inflammation, you allow your muscles and joints to work more efficiently, you boost blood flow to the entirety of your body, and you even look taller, slimmer, and more confident! Don’t miss these three exercise tips for reversing your bad posture habit:
The ancient practice of yoga has remained a pillar of strength, flexibility, and mindfulness in many cultures over thousands of years, and for good reason. When it comes to enhancing posture, yoga practice incorporates controlled breathing techniques, gentle stretching and flexibility exercises, static and dynamic positions, as well as mindful meditation.
Yoga can be practiced standing up or sitting down and there are many different types of yoga, so finding a good fit for your skill and age level at a studio or gym near you shouldn’t be difficult. Poses which involve standing (like Mountain Pose), lunging, extending (like Downward Dog), and alternating weight bearing activity actually help lengthen the spine, boost blood flow to back, core and leg muscles, as well as build up bone density – all required components for good posture.
Balance Disks & Stability Balls
A balance disk, also known as a wobble cushion, is an inflatable, rubber disk that you stand on to exercise your balance skills and build leg and core strength. A stability ball, or exercise ball, is a larger, inflatable rubber sphere that is mainly used for sitting and stretching on to boost balance and improve muscle strength and tone.
By engaging core, back, and leg muscles, these balance-focused exercise tools make you more body aware and make it harder to slouch than to sit up straight, thus promoting better posture. Go the extra mile and switch your desk chair out for a stability ball at work. In addition to sitting up straighter, you’ll find yourself burning more calories and engaging all kinds of muscle groups as you make constant, slight adjustments to remain balanced.
Back & Core Workout
Much of bad posture is caused both by habit but also by chronic back pain – tense shoulders, a stiff lower back, and generally achy muscles kindof trigger the body to curl up and contract. Realigning the spine and strengthening the muscles and connective tissues that connect the abdomen and lower back to the pelvis and spine is key to reversing your bad posture habit.
Slow and controlled movements and exercises that stabilize and lengthen the spine as well as strengthen and tone your core may be as simple as something like a plank pose. To acheive a plank pose, begin like you are going to do a push-up, but instead of having your palms facing down to push your body up, rest on your forearms and bring your hands together. Your elbows should fall under your shoulders and your feet should be hip length apart. Make sure your body is straight and not arched or dipped, and engage the abdominal muscles, drawing the belly button in up towards the spine – hold for a desired amount of time, 15 second to 1 minute reps at a time is best practice.
Your bad posture can quickly become a habit of the past. With simple exercises and strong body awareness, you can be sitting up right (and feeling better than ever!) in no time.