We all know the benefits of good Posture, both internally and externally. Good posture is very important in both business and social interactions, because it conveys a quiet assertiveness. Moreover, upright posture has a noticeably slimming effect.
But for various reasons, many of us still slouch. So, the purpose of this article is to help you get past your posture hang-ups and empower you to make a positive difference in your everyday life.
“My Back Isn’t Strong Enough”
Here, the problem may not be so much a weak back as the incorrect target area, because good posture comes from a strong core as opposed to a strong back.
The Abdominal Muscles are some of the most important, and most flexible, muscles in the body, largely because of the uniquely specialized fiber attachments that array these muscles from the pelvis all the way to the midsection. As a result, abdominal muscles are the core posture support muscles. These muscles affect other important areas as well, such as the shoulders and hips. Significantly, these two areas are also some of the most vulnerable to trauma injury.
Back to the abs. The most important muscle group, at least in terms of good posture, is probably the transversus abdominis, since it is the deepest abdominal muscle and it literally wraps around the torso, like a natural back support belt. There is both good news and bad news here, as an unusually weak transversus abdominis can permanently wreck your posture and have other effects as well, such as an increased risk of pelvis problems.
Moreover, weakness in this area causes the back to work harder than it should, triggering chronic back pain and a downward spiral of poor posture, weakening abdominal muscles, and a deteriorating lower back.
“It’s Bad Genetics”
There may be some truth to this excuse. Some parts of our bodies are genetically stronger than other parts, and sometimes, good posture is not reinforced at an early age and so it seems unimportant.
But a poor start is never an excuse for a poor finish. A poor start just means that you have some catching up to do.
Since there is both a physical and mental component to a slouching background, both these elements must be addressed. Physically, the simple plank pose is wonderful exercise for your transversus abdominis muscles. The kumbhakasana is also a very good entry-level pose for people who have never practiced yoga before, as it is also a transitional position for some more complicated poses. Other abdominal-strengthening exercises, such as modified crunches, often help as well. Don’t expect these exercises to give you a washboard stomach, but you can expect them to help straighten your back.
Mentally, it’s always best to keep your eyes on the prize in any exercise or fitness routine, and the “prize” is outlined below.
Yes, it will hurt for a while. But very quickly, your body will adjust. In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to reduce the initial discomfort:
- Ice your back after exercising for about twenty minutes.
- During the day at work, use a back brace to help posture. The brace should help on several fronts. It gently pulls back your shoulders, reduces the strain on abdominal muscles, and reminds you to stand up straight.
- Increase physical activity during the day, because the extra movement will loosen your back and make the exercises easier to perform.
If the discomfort lasts for more than a week or so, talk to a doctor, because that pain may be evidence of a more serious problem.
“It’s Not A Big Deal”
There are a lot of benefits to good posture, and almost none of them have to do with vanity or looking good.
- Joint Alignment: If your bones are where they are naturally supposed to be, your muscles do not work as hard, so you will feel less fatigued at the end of the day.
- Injury Prevention: As mentioned earlier, strong abs protect not only your back, but also your hips and shoulders, not to mention your pelvis and other areas of your body.
- Lifelong Health: Poor posture is usually degenerative, so a little slouching today will probably be a lot of slouching tomorrow, and that could permanently rearrange the bones in your spine.
Arguably, the most significant benefit of good posture is the way it makes you feel inside. So what are you waiting for?
Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net