Do you remember slouching at the dinner table as a child and being told by your parents to ‘sit up straight’? Obviously at the time you think that they are nagging just for the sake of it but of course we realise as we grow up that there was actually a point behind it all.
They were talking about posture. The way in which we carry our bodies has a major impact on our lives, ranging from how we feel about our aesthetic appearance, to the likelihood of contracting serious chronic pain issues in the future.
The unfortunate reality that posture tends to be undervalued as people focus more on the explosive exercises required to develop both size and strength. What can be forgotten though is the fact that our skeletons are needed to support our bodies and having good posture is a must if you want to achieve sustainable progress. Most of us aren’t working in active jobs, that is just the way that the world is going. More and more people are spending their days sitting down during the day and succumbing to poor posture procedures.
What you need to remember is that the main benefit that we get from having good posture is reducing the risk of injury and pain, especially later in life. Your workout regime may consider how you want your body to look in 12 months but does it consider how your joints will feel in 20 years?
Good posture comes from obtaining optimal spinal alignment, or having a neutral spine, which is easily identifiable. Firstly, from the front and back your spine should look completely straight. However, from the side you should be able to see three natural curves, inward at the neck and lower back, whilst outward in between these at the upper back.
But it isn’t enough to just maintain this when you are stood up. The best way of preventing pain is to try and keep a neutral spine whether you are standing, sat down or even sleeping. Certain stretches can be used to promote a neutral spine, or achieve one if you think that yours may not be correct. But the best way to sort out your posture is pay attention to the way that you carry your body. So try to sit, stand and sleep with your spine as straight as possible.
You aren’t going to be able to drastically alter this overnight. The spine needs to be treated with sensitivity and trying to do too much too soon will cause serious problems in later life. So just paying that bit more attention to the little things will help promote sustainable changes over a longer period of time.
It might not bring the same satisfaction as looking in the mirror and seeing a well defined set of abs but sound posture is just as rewarding. So many people accept certain types of pain as a natural part of getting old when that shouldn’t be the case. Just because you are ageing doesn’t mean that you should find it difficult to move well on a daily basis.
Once chronic pain is setting in it is already too late. So if you are going to make one change to your lifestyle immediately then let it be a change in the way that you carry your body and do your best to finally sit up straight, just like your parents said to when you were a child!