The Importance of Good Posture
Do you remember when your mother used to tell you not to slouch? As is usually the case with motherly advice, she was on to something.
Bad posture is something that far too many people don’t pay attention to. But what if I told you that good posture is important. Very, very important.
The manner in which you sit, stand, and move can have a profound impact on your life- much larger than you’d expect.
I too had horrible posture when I was in my early 20’s- until I learned the importance of having good posture…
Welcome to The WCT series on Posture.
Over the next few posts we will go over how to determine if you have bad posture, what good posture looks like, and exercises and stretches you can implement to help restore your natural posture.
This Series is Going to Cover
– The top 5 reasons why you should care about your posture during your busy workday
– The most common postural faults that busy professionals exhibit
– How to improve your posture using exercise and other simple methods
How Common Is Bad Posture?
It probably isn’t an exaggeration that the vast majority of people have bad posture.
Once you know what to look for, you will spot it every single day.
If you look at any workplace setting, it is not uncommon to see tired employees slouching in their seat, speaking on the phone with their shoulder cranked up to their neck while typing, and standing with their weights overly shifted to one side.
You can’t blame them. It is difficult to be aware of your body position when you are preoccupied with 99 other problems.
But what if I told you that you should start paying attention to your posture today?
Without further ado, here are the top 5 reasons for good posture, and why you don’t want to ignore it.
1) Bad Posture can Lead to Nagging Pain
How many times have you heard someone complaining of muscular or joint pain at work?
If it’s not their neck, it’s their shoulder, their knees, or their back.
I have had pain in just about every joint possible before I had any knowledge about posture.
What about you? Which one of your joints hurt?
Whenever someone tells me that they have nagging joint pain, I usually have to look no further than their natural postural positions.
When evaluating musculoskeletal pain, it is important to look both upstream and downstream from the problem area.
For example, a poor thoracic position can lead to a forward head posture, ultimately resulting in neck pain, stiffness and even headaches.
It doesn’t end there, a poor thoracic position can also cause internal rotation of your shoulder joint, which can result in shoulder pain and a decreased range of motion.
Downstream, your thoracic position can also alter your lordotic curve which can contribute to low back pain.
Want to know a shocking statistic?
80% of American will experience low back pain at some point in their lives! It is the second most common reason for doctors visits.
The number one thing physical therapists and physiatrists evaluate is your spinal alignment, aka your posture.
Our body is meant to function as one integral unit.
Bad posture in one joint will result in significant strain and complications in multiple nearby joints.
This happens because nearby joints will have to pick up more slack than usual and develop excessive wear and tear. Why do you think so many non-athletes have to get total hip/knee replacements?
Your body is only as strong as it’s weakest link.
2) Bad Posture Can Lead to Movement Restriction
Our bodies are meant to exhibit a broad range of natural movements.
You should be able to squat all the way down, reach completely straight overhead, and perform a bunch of other natural movements without any restriction.
Be sure to check out How Flexible Are You? 5 Useful Ways To Test If You Need To Stretch to see how you match up to the ideal standard.
Unfortunately, bad posture can cause your joints to become tight, stiff and painful, ultimately robbing them of their mobility. In addition, these shortened muscular positions can lead to decreased blood flow to certain parts of your body further increasing pain and soreness.
When working through a full range of motion, our bodies are highly efficient.
Just take a look at any kid playing in a park. They go all out.
Try and emulate any of the movements that those kids are doing, and you will be embarrassed at what you discover.
Time and again, I see children executing flawless squats and other functional movements with impeccable technique.
Even as an adult, you should still be able to perform several basic functional movements.
This is especially true for an athlete of any kind. Whether you decide to lift weights, play basketball or be a dancer, you must be able to get into certain positions to accomplish your sport efficiently.
Any movement restriction has the potential to cause a preventable injury during your athletic activity.
Getting older is not an excuse to let your joints and your movement patterns deteriorate. This is preventable. It starts with fixing your posture.
3) Bad Posture Can Lead to Breathing Difficulty
Your diaphragm is one of the most important muscles in your body. When it contracts, it allows your lungs to expand and bring oxygen to your body.
Believe it or not, bad posture can impair this process by creating a “restrictive” lung pattern. This means your body habitus puts your lungs in a compromised position, and thus they are unable to expand to their normal capacity.
Try this quick experiment. Sit up tall and take as big a breath as you can. Ensure that the breath is initiated from your diaphragm muscle and nowhere else (you can tell that you did this correctly if your belly rises without any movements in your shoulders, i.e. do not shrug).
Now, slouch forward and bring your chin towards your belly. Try and take another big breath. You will notice that you cannot inhale anywhere near as much as when you sit upright.
In essence, people with bad posture are impairing their ability to expand their lungs to full capacity. This is happening 14-16x a minute!
Less oxygen means less mental clarity, less nutrients to your muscles and less overall energy.
You cannot afford to have compromised breathing as a busy professional.
4) Posture is Another Form of Body Language
If you want to convey an important message to someone, how will your posture affect the delivery of that message? Would you stand with your shoulders slouched and looking at the floor, or would you stand tall and look the person square.
How about meeting someone for the first time?
This is especially important during an interview. If you’re not used to sitting up tall in your seat, you will feel uncomfortable trying to do so when it counts.
Good posture will always give a better first impression than bad posture.
Those with good posture portray high self esteem, are taller, and exude charisma.
Someone with bad posture appears unmotivated, fatigued and uninterested.
In addition, there is some research suggesting that bad posture and mental health are related. Individuals who are depressed and more likely to sit with slumped shoulders.
In one study, participants with mild to moderate depressions were taught how to sit with improved posture and were then asked to give a speech. The researches noted more energy, less self focus and improved mood.
You do not have to walk around with your chest puffed out, but you should be cognizant of your body position throughout the day.
Do your best to keep your spine and shoulders in a healthy position.
It can say a lot about you.
5) Posture Declines as You Age
Its also important to note that the less attention you pay to your posture – the worse off your movement patterns and restrictions will get. Like our income tax, postural deformities are progressive.
Training functional exercises through their full range of motion will improve both strength development, and train your body to use better, more efficient postural positions.
Allowing your joints to move through their natural range of motion will reduce the possibility of strain and fatigue. Both of which chip away at our mobility over the years.
Many cases of osteoarthritis are due to years and years of poor movement patterns that wreak havoc on our joints.
Here is a demonstration of the human body going through a full functional range of motion at every major joint
If you work on practicing good posture, and implement a smart resistance program (which you can find at, The Best Workout Template for Busy Professionals) into your regimen, you can prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis!
So What Causes Bad Posture?
Bad posture is caused by muscular imbalances that are created from poor bodily positions in our day to day life AND from repetitive unnatural movements patterns.
- Sitting for several hours a day,
- Typing on keyboards way out in front of us
- Holding cell phones to our heads with our shoulder shrugged up
- Keeping your head focused on a computer screen
The problem is, we do these activities for numerous hours every single day and we don’t do enough of the activities we were meant to do.
Unless you are born with congenital musculoskeletal problems, all of your muscles should be limber and you should have adequate range of motion in all of your major joints.
In other words, we are born with good posture, and acquire bad posture after years of putting our bodies in inefficient positions.
What If I Don’t Have Any Of These Symptoms?
It is still important to improve your posture, even if you don’t experience any of these ill effects.
The consequences of bad posture can take years to develop, and once they do, it is a lot harder to reverse them.
It’s kind of like smoking. You wouldn’t argue that smoking isn’t harmful to you just because you haven’t yet developed respiratory problems.
Good posture serves as a good preventative measure. The problem is, we aren’t educated about this stuff until its too late.
Take care of yourself now. Your future self will thank you.
Do You Need Any More Reasons For Good Posture?
So as you can see, ignoring your posture can lead to many undesirable complications.
As a busy individual, you already have enough on your plate to worry about.
The good news is, many of these things are preventable and treatable.
Improving your posture will
- Make you look taller,
- Make you appear more confident,
- Elevate your mood,
- Improve your circulation,
- Improve your breathing
- Align your muscles and joints in the most efficient orientation
- Decrease your risk of aches, soreness, and injury
All it takes is a small amount of postural education on your part. Let’s keep it going.
Now we turn it over to you.
Do you have any muscular aches and pains that you cannot attribute to a direct injury?
Do you experience any of these side effects of not having good posture?
Have you ever been told that you have good posture? What about bad posture?
Can you still achieve a deep squat like shown in the picture?
Comment below and let us know!
Alright, so how do you know if you have bad posture???
Don’t forget to check out the second and third installments of the WCT series on Posture.
In Part 2, You Probably Have Bad Posture- Here’s How to Tell we discuss the most common postural positions and how to tell if you have them. Chances are you probably do.
In Part 3, The Best Posture Correction Exercises To Fix Your Body Quickly, we go over the strategies you can use to reverse any bad posture you may possess and how to keep your body moving fluidly.