Do you easily get neck and back pain? Do you spend hours in front your desk in a bad posture? Our guest writer, personal trainer, Mathew Best tells you what good posture is and how to start fixing your posture.
Due to today´s lifestyle very few people have great posture
Chin up! Keep your head up! We hear these sayings often when we’re feeling a little down or deflated and up until not long ago, I didn’t realise the significance of them other than friendly encouragement. They are more than just a friendly reminder…
As a fitness coach I have worked with many people over the years who have office jobs and long daily commutes, particularly when I was working in London. They all came to me with a set of personal goals they wanted to achieve but almost all of them would have an ache or strain in their back or shoulders. From there I have made postural drills something I focus on with clients no matter their goal.
Unfortunately, due to today’s lifestyle very few people have great posture, or even good posture.
With the technological explosion of recent years, bad posture has become the prevalent cause of back pain and time off of work. We now spend the majority of our day hunched over a keyboard in an office, driving here there and everywhere in our cars or slumped over a smartphone or tablet.
We can’t avoid the modern technology-led lifestyle but we can (and need to) alleviate the pain that has come with it.
What is ´good´ posture and why is it so important?
Good posture is not a one size fits all scenario. We all have different body types, shapes and attachments that make us who we are but we all have a position that allows us to stand upright without unnecessary tension and strain on our muscles, ligaments and tendons. That is the job of our skeleton.
Good posture should not be uncomfortable. It should be effortless, relieve tension and allow your body to relax, not make you stiff and ache the next day. Granted, it may feel weird at first but over time your body will adjust.
As if that’s not enough to make you focus a little more on how you sit and stand, below are 5 more reasons to improve your posture and how small actions can make big changes.
A good posture:
1. Improves breathing
We all know breathing is essential to keep us alive, but correct breathing technique also has a huge impact on our emotional wellbeing. When we breathe correctly it can literally inflate our mood and give us that feel good feeling; but for breathing to work its magic and lift our moods and improve our energy we need to have good posture. This will give our lungs the room they need to expand in our chest.
2. Help alleviate back and neck pain
If you are one of the millions of people who are dealing with daily back and neck pain learning (read re-learning) good posture could lead to a speedy recovery. Correcting our posture means our bones and spine can work as they should do and easily support our bodyweight with no strain or unnecessary stress on our muscles.
3. Improves alignment of the body
Having good posture allows us to stand and sit in complete comfort. The body is properly aligned, which means all our muscles and organs can function as nature intended, with no extra duties. The benefits are great and means improving your posture often leads to improvements in digestion and general sense of wellbeing.
4. Enhances our ability to learn and remember things
Possibly a strange and unexpected benefit to sitting up straight but it has been shown that there is a strong link between our posture and our ability to remember new things. The idea is that maintaining good posture enhances your breathing, which in turn allows our brain to take in more oxygen and perform at a higher level.
5. Improves our mood!
If you have struggled with your mental state, improving your posture may be the answer you are looking for.
By correcting your posture you will naturally feel more confident and less anxious. Standing tall with your head up (“Chin up”) and shoulders back has a psychological effect in improving your mood, confidence and overall feeling of happiness.
Easy exercises for a better posture
Quick fix to do at home
Here is a quick fix you can try at home to help re-align your body.
- Lay on the floor on your back
- Position your feet on a chair so that you create a 90 degree angle at your hip and at your knees
- Allow your arms to lay at your side and look towards the ceiling
- Now completely relax your body and focus on your breathing
- Remain in this position for 3-5 minutes
Quick office fix
- Position yourself as far back in your chair as you can comfortably sit with a 90 degree angle at your hip and knees, feet flat on the floor
- Pull your stomach in and push your spine against the back of the chair, trying to completely flatten your back
- Tuck your chin in and try to align your neck with your back
- Take 2-3 deep breaths, keeping your stomach in and back flat
I would recommend performing the above exercises daily. The “Quick office fix” could be done 2 to 3 times during the day if you are sitting for long periods of time. Think about your posture a bit more during the day, how you are sitting and standing, particularly if you do find you have low energy and back or neck ache. Your body will thank you for it and you will feel so much better!
// Mathew Best
Mathew moved from England to Finland almost 5 years ago with his wife. He´s an online fitness coach, personal trainer and nutrition coach with 8 years’ experience and a sporting background in martial arts, tennis and swimming. He is owner and trainer at Best Fit PT, specializing in body transformation and nutrition habit coaching. He trains people to be stronger for life, not just in the gym.