Ever been told to 'sit up straight' in school or by parents? Can still hear the advice now?
While many of us are aware 'good posture' is something we really should have, not all of us know why exactly this is, or where to start with saying goodbye to the slouch.
So, while there's "no need to become obsessed" with it, as not standing to attention 24/7 won't kill you, we spoke to physiotherapist Sammy Margo about why posture is something we should take a little more seriously, and what the quick daily exercises she recommends to help improve it are.
Is posture important?
"Posture is very important. It facilitates proper alignment of joints and bones, including those in the spine, reducing wear and tear on joints," Margo, also advisor to Deep Heat, Deep Freeze and Deep Relief, points out.
"Good posture promotes effective use of muscles and helps to prevent muscle tiredness. Muscle strains and lower back injuries are common musculoskeletal injuries often caused by bad posture. In fact, our real world research reveals that 62% of Brits have experienced a muscle strain or sprain."
What are 'good' and 'bad' signs of posture?
While there's no one-size-fits-all as all bodies are different, there are some general things we can aim for with our posture.
"Your spine is the key to good posture," Margo emphasises, reminding us the spine has three natural curves at the neck, the middle of the back and the lower back.
"Good posture should maintain these curves but not increase them. Your head should be above your shoulders and the top of your shoulders above your hips. When working at a desk good posture means sitting upright on a comfortable chair with feet flat on the floor. Forearms should rest comfortably on the table and your screen or laptop should be at eye level to avoid neck strain.
"Bad posture signs include round shoulders, a head that leans forwards or backwards and knees bent when standing or walking."
Quick everyday exercises to help with posture
"The most useful exercises to improve posture involve strengthening the core," says Margo, who recommends:
1. The plank
You may have heard of this one before. It may be better suited to those who WFH or done before or after the working day.
"Begin by lying on your stomach. Shift position so that the weight of your body rests on the forearms and toes, with the rest of the body hovering above the floor. Stay in this position for a few breaths, focusing on keeping the core and abdominal muscles tight, before lowering the body and releasing the position."
2. Standing quad stretch
Try not to lose your balance for this one!
"From a standing position, slowly bend your right knee and bring the right foot up behind the body. Using your right hand, grab your right foot and pull it closer to the buttocks, until there is a stretching feeling in the hip and quadriceps — a group of muscles in the front of the thigh. Make sure that your knees stay close together. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and release it, slowly lowering the foot to the floor. Repeat the exercise on the other side."
3. Chest stretch
This one should feel particularly good.
"Stand straight, with the legs shoulder-width apart. Using both hands, reach behind the body and interlace the fingers with the palms pointing upward. Keeping the back and arms straight, gently pull back and down through the shoulders. Hold the position for a few seconds, then release it."
Ready to go? Here's Margo's final tip:
"If you haven’t thought about your posture before or done any exercises to improve it, you will need to think about it until doing exercises and sitting and standing appropriately become second nature. There's no need to become obsessed, but aim to create good posture habits so that they are part of your daily life."
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