Your Health Matters
Four curves that affect your health
Can you think of one thing that contributes to increased energy, better breathing, improved circulation - and makes you look better? You probably didn't guess good posture. But it's true. People with proper posture seem to move with greater confidence and grace. Good posture will also make you look taller and slimmer - and when our bodies are aligned, it contributes to our good health.
The secret to good posture is understanding and maintaining the balance among the spine's four natural curves - two forward curves (neck and lower back), and two backward curves (middle back and base of the spine). The curves of the spine give it resilience and absorb impact. If the curves are too flat, our ligaments and muscles have to take the extra load and this may result in strain and pain. If the curves are too accentuated, our spine cannot distribute the body's weight effectively. Either way, movement becomes more difficult, draining our energy. Try these tips to get your posture working for you.
When standing, your head, shoulders, and hips should lineup, one comfortably above the other. Your knees should be slightly bent and your feet should be shoulder-width apart or more. Exercises to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles are one of the best things you can do to help improve your posture. You need both!
Most of us have a variety of bad habits that get in the way of good posture such as carrying a heavy bag or purse on one shoulder, cradling the phone between your shoulder and ear, and falling asleep on the sofa with your head on the armrest. Any of these activities may give you a stiff neck and also distort those important spinal curves.
High heels also throw the spine out of alignment making good posture difficult and often leading to lower back pain. A low, sturdy, comfortable shoe is best, but if you are devoted to your high fashion footwear, try to restrict the height to no more than two inches.
Good posture is just as important when you are sitting as when you are standing. When sitting at work for a prolonged period of time, position your lower back against the back of the chair to obtain the greatest amount of support for your spine. Avoid leaning your backrest too far backwards and adjust the height of the chair so that your knees are flexed at a 90 degree angle when your feet are flat on the floor.
With a little effort even the most die-hard sloucher can look better and feel better too!