Posture: Align yourself for good health
Proper body alignment not only helps prevent pain and injury, but also can boost your confidence and mood. Improving your posture will likely take some time and conscious effort, but the feel-good benefits are worth it.
Learn More, Author Jane T. Hein, Mayo Clinic
Poor posture can strain the muscles at the back of your head, neck, upper back and jaw. This can put pressure on nearby nerves and trigger what are known as tension-type or
Back and neck pain
Pain and tightness or stiffness in the back and neck can be due to injury and other conditions such as arthritis, herniated disks and osteoporosis, but poor posture is a common contributor. Though rarely life-threatening, back and neck pain can be chronic and reduce your quality of life.
Knee, hip and foot pain
Muscle weakness, tightness or imbalances, lack of flexibility, and poor alignment of your hips, knees and feet may prevent your kneecap (patella) from sliding smoothly over your femur. The ensuing friction can cause irritation and pain in the front of the knee, a condition known as patellofemoral pain. Poor foot and ankle alignment also can contribute to plantar fasciitis, a condition in which the thick band of tissue connecting your heel to the ball of your foot (plantar fascia) becomes inflamed and causes heel pain.
Shoulder pain and impingement
Your rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that connect your upper arm to your shoulder. Muscle tightness, weakness or imbalances associated with poor posture can cause the tendons in your rotator cuff to become irritated and cause pain and weakness. A forward, hunched posture also can cause these tendons to become pinched (impinged). Eventually, this can lead to a tear in the rotator cuff tissue, a more serious injury that can cause significant pain and weakness and limit your ability to carry out daily activities.
A forward head posture may strain the muscles under your chin and cause your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) to become overworked. This may result in pain, fatigue and popping in your jaw, as well as difficulty opening your mouth, headaches and neck pain.
Fatigue and breathing problems
Poor postural habits may restrict your rib cage and compress your diaphragm. This can reduce lung capacity, leading to shallow or labored breathing, fatigue and lack of energy, which can affect your overall productivity.
Improving your posture can help prevent or reverse many of these conditions. You’ll be amazed to see how your quality of life can improve — simply by standing a little taller.
Try these tips for improving your posture while standing, sitting and lying in bed, with a focus on spinal mobility and breath work.
While walking, stand tall. Inhale, roll your shoulders up and back, then exhale and roll your shoulders down, as if you are gently tucking your shoulder blades into your back pockets.
Try seated pelvic tilts. Sit on the edge of a chair, place your hands on your thighs and rest your feet on the floor. Inhale and rock your pelvis and ribs forward while you open your chest and look upward. Exhale, rock your pelvis and spine back and look down toward the floor.
Do a wake-up or bedtime bridge pose. Lie on your back in bed with your knees bent and your feet resting on the mattress. Inhale, then slowly exhale and curl your tailbone to lift your buttocks and spine, one vertebra at a time, until your shoulder blades bear your weight. Pause and inhale, then slowly exhale as you roll your spine back down.
If you are concerned about your posture, join our POPUP Fitness Class, Stand Tall Posture