10 Easy Ways To Improve Your Posture & Balance
Over time, poor posture may be caused by habits from everyday activities such as sitting in office chairs, staring at the computer.
Good posture is achieved when the muscles of the body are properly aligned, allowing for efficient movement. When your body’s muscles and joints are balanced and supported properly, you will be able to do everyday activities such as squatting to pick up laundry or running down a flight of stairs with ease. Bad posture on the other hand, is worsened by sitting continuously, with slipped discs being the direct outcome. Even 20 minutes of slouching is detrimental to your ligaments. Poor posture can easily become second nature, causing and aggravating episodes of back and neck pain and damaging spinal structures. The following guidelines suggest several easy ways to improve posture and balance, especially for people who work sitting in an office chair for most of the day.
Why is Good Posture Important?
Good posture is important because it helps the body support its weight by evenly distributing it throughout the torso and extremities. When proper posture is exhibited, the body will support its’ weight without causing undue stress to surrounding muscles, ligaments and joints. When poor posture is exhibited, unnecessary pressure is placed on the back, hips, legs and feet, causing pain from the neck down to the toes.
Although good posture is highly encouraged, it certainly does not come easy. It takes diligence, practice and awareness to correct poor posture and maintain it since slouching, leaning to one side and leaning the head forward seem natural to most. While it can seem difficult to retrain the body to sit, stand, sleep, and walk in a different position, it is certainly within everyone’s ability to change it and improve overall health for good.
Tips for Improving Posture and Balance:
- It is important to strengthen our core and lower back muscles. This wrapping of muscles around your middle supports our spine, also allows us to stand up straight and then maintain a better balance. Exercise can help strengthen our lower back. We can start this by lying on our stomach on a mat with arms extended. Then, we are supposed to Inhale and lift legs and arms off the mat at the same time. Hold for about three seconds and finally release, repeat this procedure for about 12 to 15 times.
- It is advisable to take regular breaks when it is required to maintain a same position over a long period. When you sit or stand for a long time, the spine will naturally compress, resulting in a hunched posture that can further lead to pain. What can help you here is to set reminders on your phone so you remember to get up, stretch and also check your posture.
- Avoid the slouch when walking. Start trying to walk as if you have a book or a heavy object balancing on your head and then it will come naturally.
- Extended Triangle: Stand with your feet roughly four feet apart, turning your left foot out on a 90 degree angle. Raise your arms out to the sides so they’re parallel to the floor, palms down. Keeping your legs firmly in place and only moving your torso, reach your left hand down toward your ankle and your right hand to the ceiling. Repeat on the other side.
- When you do have to work at a desk, “sitting up with good, tall posture and your shoulders dropped is a good habit. This can take some getting used to; exercise disciplines that focus on body awareness, such as Pilates and yoga, can help you to stay sitting straight. Make sure your workstation is set up to promote proper posture.
- Every 30 minutes, get up and take a little stroll around the office or house. This prevents your body from getting too used to sitting and offers relief to your lower back and hamstrings.
- Test your balance whenever possible throughout your day. For example, When standing in line at the grocery store, try standing on one leg while you shift your basket from left or right or try getting into a particular yoga pose while watching Tv or surfing the internet. These small tests will help your body to maintain better balance as time passes.
- Stress plays a large role in our overall health and has an immense impact on posture and pain in general. When our bodies are under excessive stress, the muscles tighten and create tension from head to toe. These muscles pull the body in subconsciously and lead to slouching, a curved spine and poor posture in general. Try to identify the situations and areas of life that cause undue stress and minimize them as much as possible. Take time for yourself. Step outside if your work space and go for a walk if you are under added stress at work. Simply getting up and stretching can relax the body and improve posture related issues that develop due to stress.
- Sleeping on your side is the best position for most people. You can reduce spinal stress by keeping the body aligned. Place a pillow between your knees to keep the top leg from twisting the pelvis forward. Use a pillow that keeps your head level with the center of your shoulders and aligned with your spine. A pillow that is too big or too thin will create stress in the neck.
- Yoga, pilates and core exercises can improve posture by increasing strength and flexibility throughout the back and abdominal area. These areas are responsible for balance and posture and, when the muscles are weak and not exercised, they are unable to do their job properly. Regular participation in a yoga or pilates class can greatly improve flexibility and muscle endurance from the shoulders to the hips.