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How to Improve Your Posture

Author:   Peter Sedesse MD

Importance of Posture for Good Health

Improving your posture is important for a number of reasons including better health and appearance. There are three different ways you can improve your posture, they include muscle strengthening, nutrition and body positioning training. Bad posture can lead to long term disease as well as an increased risk of injuries, especially injuries to lower back. Improving your posture can also increase your energy levels and improve your breathing.

One of the most important first steps to improving your posture is to become aware of your body positioning. This is extremely important for people who spend large amounts of time in the same position, like those working at a computer. While sitting, the most important things to remember are to keep both feet on the floor and to keep your shoulders and head above your hips, which means not leaning forward. Image looking sideways at yourself and draw a line between your hips, your shoulders and your ears. This line should be straight, and be perpendicular to the floor. Sitting in this position will relieve pressure on the back of your neck and can help prevent headaches. An easy way to help yourself have good posture at a desk is to keep your chair pushed in.

Obesity and Posture

Obesity is a major cause of bad posture. Bad posture occurs because extra weight at the belly pulls the lower portion of the spinal column forward. While this can drastically increase your chances of having a lower back injury, it also can cause long term changes to your posture as your body compensates. Obviously weight loss has many health benefits, now you can include improved posture to the list. The skeletal structure is designed and works best when your center of gravity is in the middle of your hips.

Importance of Exercise for Good Posture

Yoga is probably one of the best ways to improve posture, this is because so many of the postures strengthen and stretch the muscles needed to hold the body in the proper posture. Stretching muscles, especially through yoga, will allow you to correct and lengthen muscles that have become shortened and weakened because of lack of use. With yoga, these mainly involve muscles of the upper legs and upper back. Conditioning both areas will naturally improve your posture.

Similar to Yoga, weight training, especially targeting certain muscle groups can greatly improve your posture. Weight training and strengthening muscles of the upper and lower back can greatly improve posture. This is especially true in women, who sometimes develop poor posture and back problems if they have a large chest. The upper legs and buttocks are other areas that can be strengthened through weight training that will improve your posture.

One of the most important muscle groups you can strengthen to improve posture is the abdominal muscles. Having strong abdominal muscles will keep your body centered above your hips and will also reduce stress on your upper back, and keep your shoulders from hunching forward. Finally, strong abdominal muscles help protect the lower back from injuries.

Check your Posture Frequently

Another tip is to just train yourself to occasionally check your body positioning. If you work at a computer long hours, sit an alarm to go off every hour, and then observe the position your body is in and improve it. Push in your chair, keep your shoulder and head back. After awhile, it will become second nature to stay in the proper position even if you have to spend long amounts of time without moving.

Importance of Nutrition to have Better Posture

Finally, nutrition needs to be mentioned. Strong bones and muscles require not only exercise, but also vitamins and minerals. The most important nutrients for bones include Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and strontium. As mentioned above, being over weight is a serious medical concern and affects your posture, low fat foods, especially fruits and vegetables will help you lose weight.

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