Have you ever looked at yourself in a mirror unexpectedly and noticed your posture was, well … pretty awful?
“Holy crap, I need to stand up straight,” is a thought we’ve all likely had at some point in our lives, and even more so if we’re working on the computer often.
The “desk hunch” is all-too-common nowadays, and while it seems unavoidable, the truth is: it’s not!
Bad posture is correctable, and here we’re going to discuss why it’s so important to start working on it.
Hint: posture has more impact on your health than you could ever imagine.
Why Correct Posture Is So Important
1. Improves Circulation
When we’re sitting or slouching for extended periods of time, what we’re essentially doing is taking our body out of it’s natural alignment, which allows for adequate blood flow to various organs and tissues.
Bad posture can create tight muscles and strained joints, which can eventually lead to compressed arteries, resulting in less blood flow. This can deprive your organs (and your brain!) from adequate nutrients and oxygen it needs to function optimally.
Not to mention, your heart may also have to work harder to pump blood through compressed areas, resulting in higher blood pressure.
When you improve your posture, these arteries are able to decompress and allow blood to flow smoothly, which can improve both physical and mental performance, as well as provide your organs with proper nourishment.
2. Improves Digestion
If you’re having problems with digestion and are doing everything “right” in the diet arena, consider your posture.
Bad posture puts pressure on on your stomach and intestines, making it more difficult for them to properly process and eliminate waste. This slows the digestive process, which can lead to bloating, feelings of fullness, heartburn, and even constipation.
3. Improves Joint and Back Pain
Along with arteries, your joints, disks, tendons, nerves, and ligaments can also become compressed and/or strained, which is a huge factor in joint, lower back, and neck pain!
When you realign your spinal column and disks correctly, you are able to relieve this pressure put on your nerves and joints, which can equal massive pain relief.
4. Can Boost Your Energy Levels and Improve Lung Function
In a similar way to the effect on your stomach, slouching can put pressure on your lungs and diaphragm, making it harder to expand them to pull in a breath. Your chest muscles also begin to shorten and tighten when you’re hunched over, which adds further difficulty in expanding your lungs to breathe.
This not only means that your blood and organs become less oxygenated, but also your brain, which can result in low energy levels and drowsiness.
As you can see, posture has widespread effects on your body, even down to the level of your circulatory system. Below we go into how to develop correct posture, as well as free exercises you can try, plus one of our best programs for working professionals looking to improve their posture.
Posture Check-In: What It Feels Like
Now that you know the amazing benefits behind good posture, let’s dive in to what it actually looks and feels like.
While sitting, your feet should be resting flat on the floor, with your weight evenly distributed on both hips.
Your back should be mostly straight, with only natural curves in your lumbar, thoracic, and cervical areas. Your shoulders should be back, yet relaxed, and your ears should line up over your collarbones.
While standing, your knees should have a slight bend so you’re not locking your knee joints, with your hips in alignment with your collarbones (make sure they aren’t pushed forward or backward, creating an unnatural arc in your lower back). Your neck should be in alignment with your spine, with your shoulders back.
It sometimes helps to imagine a string attached to the crown of your head, helping you stand tall.
Now, an important thing to keep in mind is that while the exercises below will help bring awareness and activation in the weaker areas of your body (which will definitely result in improvement!), what is just as important is keeping your body away from static postures for long periods of time.
This means you want you get up and stretch, do a few posture exercises every hour, rather than simply once a day.
Also, keeping a slight amount of muscular tension through your posterior chain and erector muscle groups near your spine is the best way to improve posture, so keep this in mind as you’re sitting. Tune in to your muscles and try to engage your core as you sit, every time you notice you’re slouching.
If you haven’t followed the Durable Athlete over on Instagram, definitely do so, as we share a ton of mobility exercises that also massively benefit your posture!
The two sequences below are specifically designed to help you recover from “desk slouch”:
In addition, posture is one of the crucial reasons we created the Durable Professional Program, available on the DA App! This program will walk you through movement sequences and exercises that will help you recover and improve your posture every day as a working professional who is often at a computer.