When you hold yourself in proper posture and body alignment, you will find that you have an easier time breathing. According to the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, slouching can reduce lung capacity. Sit and stand up straight to allow your lungs, as well as other organs and muscle groups, the space to fill up the air you need to breathe, and to prevent any further respiratory issues.
Studies have shown that illnesses and headaches may be less frequent in those with their body properly aligned. “Bad posture creates tension in the upper back, neck, and shoulders, which can lead to headaches that manifest as pain in the base of the skull and sometimes forehead.” If you are plagued by regular headaches, start paying attention to how you hold your body, and decide if you can make a change.
Improving your posture and alignment can also help to prevent digestion issues. According to Harvard Medical School, “Slouching puts pressure on the abdomen, which can force stomach acid in the wrong direction.” It may also affect how quickly your body is able to digest food within the intestines. Ensure smooth digestive processes by deciding to sit and stand up straight.
When standing with good posture, the body is able to take in more oxygen, produce more carbon dioxide, and the heart rate increases. Antigravitational muscle reflex activities also are also influenced by changes in posture. A positive correlation has been found between the body being in a standing position and an increased metabolism.
Good posture can also play a role in preventing, and even improving, the symptoms of osteoporosis. Oregon Exercise Therapy explains that a lack of regular exercise and insufficient calcium intake contribute Americans’ higher chances of struggling with osteoporosis. When we maintain a “vertical load”, however, by keeping our shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles vertically aligned with each other, our body does what it is supposed to do and increases bone density. Our bones become stronger and less fragile.
Have you ever found that you are more productive when sitting in a chair at a desk rather than when you are relaxed on the couch? Maintaining proper posture can be a way of telling your body that it’s time to work, and that you mean business. Inaddition to productivity levels, you may also notice greater self-esteem and improved mood as byproducts of improving your posture.
One of the greatest benefits of correct body alignment is that it can prevent injury. In terms of bone strength, you run a smaller risk of breaking something because your body is naturally increasing bone density. Good posture will also make you less likely to experience back pain, fatigue, and leg cramps. When working out, proper form will keep you from doing exercises incorrectly and injuring your body.
Holding your body with good posture will help you maintain better balance. Balance is defined as a state of equilibrium, and aligning our body properly and proportionally in various states of sitting and standing helps us to maintain that balance.
In Barboza Method classes, students learn that your back is part of your core. All of the muscles involved work together to stabilize the spine and keep it in alignment. Canyon Ranch states that “when your core muscles are weak, your spine doesn’t have adequate support to maintain perfect posture naturally. Your other muscles begin to compensate to help you stay erect…” which can lead to a host of issues, including a slouchy stance, instability, aches and pains, digestive and breathing problems, and more. All the more reason to improve your body alignment as soon as possible.
With better posture, you may even find that you get better sleep. According to Shape magazine, there isn’t enough definitive research to prove that daytime posture significantly affects your sleep. However, your sleeping positions and posture absolutely plays a role. The best suggestion for optimal sleep is to lay on your side with a pillow between your legs. Is there a better side? Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist, says that “sleeping on your right pushes on blood vessels, preventing maximum circulation”, and you’re more likely to toss and turn in the night. Overall, sleeping on the left side is best because it “promotes cardiovascular return,” and your body can more easily pump blood through your body because there’s less pressure on that area.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation offers pointers for maintaining good posture and alignment in any and all positions.
When standing, keep your head high, chin parallel with the ground, and the shoulders down and back. Bring your belly button in toward your spine, which will engage the transverse abdominis muscle to act as a corset around the spine.
When walking, point your feet straight ahead and focus on your big toe making contact with the ground every time you take a step. Make sure to step from heel to toe, striking the ground with your heel, and pushing forward off your back foot.
When sitting, use a low back, or lumbar, support pillow to help you stay sitting upright in a chair. Make sure to change positions every 30 to 60 minutes.
Use climbing stairs as an exercise activity and to help with bone density. Keep your head high, chin parallel with the ground, and the shoulders down and back. Make sure the knees stay slightly bent. Instead of putting one foot directly in front of the other, keep a few inches in between, maintaining alignment with the hip on the same side. Hold onto a railing while doing the stairs, but avoid pulling yourself up by the railing as you go.
When lifting or carrying something, they don’t say “lift with the legs” for no reason. Bending over at the waist to pick something up and using the back muscles to lift can cause significant strain over time. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends going down to one knee to do the lifting, pull the object to waist-height, and place one hand on a sturdy surface to support you as you stand back up. Exhale as you stand. If you’re carrying heavy bags, keep them close to your body, and try to even out your balance by holding a similar-sized load in each arm.
When getting into bed, sit on the edge of the bed first. Support your body with both hands, and lean toward the head of the bed. Lie down on your side, and bring both feet up onto the bed at the same time. When getting out of bed, reverse the steps for safety.
Body alignment plays an important role in our everyday lives, usually without us even realizing it. Every part of our body is connected. Every muscle group, every organ, every system in our body will benefit from improving our body alignment. You may even find that you have more energy, better mobility, and exude more confidence when you start to hold your body tall and long and proudly. How much better you look and feel in your body will show in everything you do