26 Jun 2017
6 min read
Over the years, after interacting with different instructors and being familiar with other exercise programmes, I have become aware of the many benefits of maintaining good posture. And this week, we will find out more about the positive effects of good posture as I talk with fitness experts Sitashma Shahi and Priti Rai Shrestha.
“Getting people to maintain good posture has always been a difficult task, but now it’s getting even more difficult to persuade them what with people becoming so dependent on their handheld gadgets. We often tend to overlook the harmful effects this dependency has on our health,” says yoga instructor Sitashma Shahi. “It is high time that people realised the positive impacts proper posture can have on their overall wellbeing—from your mood to workout strength.”
Priti Rai Shrestha, an exercise physiologist, concurs: proper posture, she says, minimises your chances of having injuries. But how? “When you maintain a good posture, your muscles, joints and ligaments work to support your facet joints, in your spine,” says Shrestha. “This helps your vital organs stay in proper position, and it also helps the nervous system function properly, which eventually translates to reduced risks of injuring muscles and the like.”
So, what is good posture?
Shahi says that most of her clients tend to have this misconception that there are different types of good postures for different situations—like when you are sitting at your office desk versus when you are having a meal and conversing at the dining table. “Yes, there will be be variances when sitting, standing or lying down, but a good posture is more about your body alignment, which allows you to move how you want to without causing too much pain, strain or bodily damage,” she says.
The golden rules for good posture
- Your chin should always be tucked in and not jutting forward.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed, pushed down and rolled back. Never hunch your back.
- Keep your head in the midline position—not forward or tilted sideways.
- Your body weight should be placed equally on your legs—when standing, keep your knees slightly bent.
- When lying down, avoid resting your head on too many pillows.
- More muscle strength, more balance: Practising good posture is training yourself to have more balance. For athletes, this balance will aid in improving their athletic abilities; for others, maintaining balance helps you perform your day-to-day activities with much ease.
- Preventive measures: Our body’s wear and tear is inevitable, but we can always take measures to prevent adverse results such as joint pain. Good posture helps keep the bones and joints in correct alignment, which ensures that our muscles are used appropriately.
- Better digestion: Research shows that a bad posture can compress our internal organs, which causes digestive problems such as constipation. Good posture can help avoid this.
- Natural mood booster: Several psychological studies have shown the positive impacts good posture has on our state of mind. Simply sitting up straight helps us think positively, feel more powerful, more in control and happier.
- And my go-to trick: It helps you look slimmer and more confident.
Improving your posture
It is never too late to start improving your posture, and for this, Shrestha recommends strengthening your core.
TRY: Diaphragmatic breathing
This will help you improve your posture in an effective and progressive manner. “Core strengthening improves the connection between your abdominal muscles and lower back muscles that connect your spine and pelvis. One of the exercises to do this is concentration and breathing.” says Shrestha. To do this, inhale through your nose and bring your shoulder blades together. Breathe into the sides and back of your ribcage, filling the diaphragm and dropping all the way down to the pelvis as you exhale. Let go of your breath in the reverse order you breathed in. Drop your chest as you fully exhale, but do not force the air out; simply allow it to flow out of the body.
Shrestha’s expert tips
- When you inhale, do not raise your shoulders. Instead, keep them down and relaxed.
- As you inhale, you want the air to flow throughout your entire torso, both front and back. Your chest does move with the breathing, but it should remain relaxed.