A to Z of Postures In Your Fitness

There is nothing more ageing that wrong posture. A person with youthful stance looks young and energetic whereas a person ( even if he is young) with a stoop, hunch of sloping shoulders presents an ageing look.

This is not the only reason why a person would pay attention to his posture. Ninety percent people, by the time they are 35, complain of backaches and the most common cause of a backache is usually a bad posture. With the growing number of slipped disc cases, spinal and back problems, it becomes doubly important to ensure that good posture becomes a part of one's life.

What is Posture?


Dictionary defines postures as the position of a person's body and the way a person sits or stands. It is judged to be good, normal or bad by the position of the head, chest, trunk, pelvis, knees and feet.

Postures can be guide to the way people feel. If they are tired, their posture may be poorer than usual. Posture can also reflect mental attitude. Changes in posture may affect a person's appearance, gait, and personality. good posture gives an impression of poise and self-confidence. It allows the body to function at its best. The best posture is always moving because holding a single position for a long time affects the circulation and respiration. Physical training, learning about body functions, and learning to relax, all aid in posture improvement.

Bad posture can cause many health problems like an aching back, a strained neck, rigid shoulders or recurrent headaches.

Posture is essentially the position of the body in space. Optimal posture is the state of muscular and skeletal balance that protects the supporting structures of the body against injury or progressive deformity whether work or rest.

Correct posture involves the positioning of the joints to provide minimum stress on the joints of the body. Conversely, faulty posture increases stress on the joints. strong muscles can compensate for this increased stress, but if they are weak or the joints lack mobility or are too mobile joint wear and modification can occur. As a result damage and changes to the surrounding tissues can also occur.

Postures also involves the chain-link concept of the body mechanics in which problems any where along the body chain can lead to problems above or below that point. For example, knee pain can arise from pelvic joint disorders. The effects of posture can be far reaching, involving respiratory, digestive, and circulatory systems as well as the musculoskeletal system. But how is poor or faulty posture developed ?

Causes Of Poor Posture

There are many causes for poor postural habits. These include muscle imbalance, spasm, respiratory conditions, general weakness, excess weight and mainly a lack of self-esteem. A person who is ill at ease and not self confident tends to shrink and slouch, it is his protection armour against the world. Women who are taller than average often display a slouch. They want to be a part of the crowd and hate the idea of standing out and hence the poor posture.

Posture can be measured. A conformateur ( a series of rods that fit the back or front) measures static posture( person's posture when standing still). A petrography( foot print machine) measures the feet. The whole body can be photographed to show front, side and rear views. Then the picture can be marked to show the exact position of the head, shoulder, chest, pelvis, knees, abdomen, spine and feet in relation to each other.

You may find that correcting your posture has other benefits, too. As you begin to stand tall with your shoulder back, a natural side-effect is to hold in your stomach-muscles, which will give you a slimmer silhouette. You may also start to have more energy, as you lost the fatigue brought on by slumping and feeling of anxiety connected with all-over tension.

Improve Your Posture

When you're out at a party, club or even in the office cafeteria, when do you think people notice first-the guy who is standing tall and straight, or the guy who looks like he wants to crawl into his shell? Well, people may notice the guy who's slouching and looks all curved, but for all the wrong reasons.

It's amazing how something as simple as good posture can make someone look tall, slim, and most importantly-confident. And the confident man is the one who gets noticed for all the right reasons. So learn how to get your spine all out of a crouch and stand up straight for goodness sake.

Learning how to improve your posture basically consists of knowing how to do it, and having the will power to stick to it. When we were young, we were told to walk with a book on top of our heads to practice good posture. But now posture starts with 3 activities we do every day: Sitting, standing and sleeping.

Stand up straight

Look at a mirror while standing up straight. Check out which areas are preventing your from standing up straight: are your shoulder crouched: your head down; your back bent? straighten out whatever is slouching and observe the difference.

Your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should make one straight line. Relax your shoulders and slightly bend your knees- you don't want to look like a robot.
  • Hold the head erect but balanced without tension.
  • Hold the chest up and slightly forward, but free to breathe.
  • Hold the shoulders well back, but not hunched or strained backward.
  • Let the arms hang naturally by the sides.
  • Hold the abdomen somewhat flat, or at least not allow it to sag forward. the back will take care of itself if this is done.
  • Hold the knees balanced, neither overstretched not bent.
  • Place the feet naturally, with the body weight slightly over the balls of the feet and on the outside edges of the feet. The inside arches of the feet should be held up.
As a posture test, stand facing a wall and 'stretch tall'. allow your toes to touch the baseboard of the wall. Then lean forward with your chest just touching the wall.

You should be able to place both hands, one over the other, between your abdomen and the wall. Now turn around, put your heels to the baseboard and allow your head, shoulders and buttocks to touch the wall.

If you can put your fist between the lower back and the wall, your posture needs improvement.

If you are standing for a long period of time, make sure to continue shifting your weight every so often.

If you are bending down to pick up something, bend your knees and hips, don't bend down and grab the object with just your waist.

Sit Back Regally

Use a high, firm chair with a high back. Make sure to sit with your hips a far back against the back of the chair as possible, and keep your knees at hip level( or little lower).

If your back is not getting the support it needs from the  back of the chair, or you find it difficult to stay against the back of the chair, then try placing a pillow or a towel to support your lower back.

Check how high your shoulders are sitting and how stiff how your neck feels. Many people don't notice that, as they sit still for long periods and their bodies become increasingly rigid and tense, their shoulders become surprisingly raised.

This seated posture represents the opposite problem to the slouching position, both positions, however, place enormous stress on the back and neck. If you find your body adopting the rigid, tense posture while you're seated, take a couple of deep breaths, and relax your muscles as your exhale. Gently rotate your neck, looking from side to side, and roll your shoulders a couple of times to relax your muscles.

More Tips

  • If you are at your desk (working at the computer) all day long, make sure that your workstation is at the height of your elbows.
  • Keep your shoulders straight (parallel to your hips) and avoid learning forward- remember- your entire back should be supported at all times.
  • If you find that you are always leaning forward to see your computer monitor, then tilt the monitor upwards so that you are not forced to look down.
  • Also, if you usually wear glass, then try wearing them rather than slouching with your eyes glued to the monitor.
  • When driving, make sure to sit straight, with your hips as far back against the back of your chair as possible. You should be able to hold the steering wheel with your elbows slightly bent.
  • avoid staying seated for extended periods of time- get up and walk around every so often.

Sleep right and tight


Always sleep on a firm mattress.

Don't sleep on your stomach. If you do, place a pillow under you waist ( no, some's hand or chest doesn't count).

Sleep on your back or side. If on your back, then you can place a small pillow under your knees; and if on your side, then place a small pillow between your knees. This is not a must, but it may help you maintain a straight back.

Use a pillow for your head that keeps your head aligned ( at the same level) with rest of your body.

Doing "back breaking activities" in bed should not affect your posture, as long as your sleep properly and stay disciplined.


Lift and carry without strain

The size, shape and structure of the material will largely determines how easy or difficult manual handling will be. Whenever you lift a load, make sure that you observe the following rules-

  • Stand close to the load on a firm footing and with feet about 30cms apart.
  • Bend your knees and keep your back as straight as you can.
  • Take a firm grip of the load.
  • Breathe in and throw the shoulders backward.
  • Straighten the legs continuing to keep the back as straight as you can
  • Make sure the load does not obstruct your view.
  • Keep the load close to your body.
  • Lift slowly and smoothly.
  • Once loaded avoid twisting the spine to turn, just move your feet.
Walk tall

a tall person generally stoops in order to compensate for your height. Regardless of your height, though, think for a moment about the way you stand and walk. Take a walk around your home or office, and be aware of how your body is moving.

If you are a woman wearing high heels, slip them off, and walk barefoot. High heels are, of course, one of the worst offenders when it comes to throwing your posture line. High shoes tend to pitch the top half of your body forward, as it naturally realigns itself to keep its balance.

As you walk around, try lifting your head until you are looking straight ahead of you, with a relaxed neck and shoulders. Press your shoulders backwards so that your chest is pushed out, and straighten your spine so that you are standing straight, but not too stiff. You will notice as you try out this new walk in the privacy of your home or office that you suddenly feel more energetic and confident.

Once you see the difference between slouching along, and striding out, looking directly and confidently at the world ,you will want to make permanent change in the posture you adopt when standing and walking.

Gardening

Lately, I have taken to active gardening and I know how tiring those motions of squatting, bending and digging can be. Gardening is a tough job, most people don't realize that. The constant squatting and bending can lead to a back problem if the posture is not correct.

Often I am left with a sore lower back resulting from the stoop work. Worse, I am also a part-time couch potato, and the work of gardening requires me to use muscles that hardly get uses in my full-time, bread-winning routine at a computer, seated as I am in a swivel chair.


Recently, however, I have discovered a couple of ways to reposition my lazy bones and slouchy muscles when I bend, squat, dig, etc,.. etc.

Bending

Never bend from the waist, because that will stain your back, instead, hinge yourself from your true hip joint, which is where your leg meets your torso. Lighten yourself, floating your head gently up, and hinge from the bottom of your rear.

Squatting

A fine position, as long as you're not hunching over. If you must reach for something, move onto all fours so your reach is well supported. If you tire, you can also sit on the ground, legs spread apart, and work a while that way.

Digging

Don't "hunch" when you shovel. Stand up straight, standing over the support of your legs; don't get ahead of yourself. when you move to the side, take a step in the direction you are moving rather than twisting your body.

Lifting

The father you reach, the wider your stance should be Get your feet close to the object and use your whole body to lift, rather than just your neck and shoulders, keeping the lifted object close to your body. A tip- rubber-palmed gloves are a great help to a firm grip.

Take frequent breaks, walking away from your task every 10 to 15 minutes, or when you begin to tire. Digging in the dirt can really pull you down, even with the best of intentions. Walk away from your task, coming all the way up to your full dignity, so your whole body moves skyward.

These recommended garden postures could also be applied to a variety of work around the house, especially such activities as scrubbing vacuuming and dusting.

Spine stretching

Lying flat on your back, with a book under your head helps lengthen your spine. From this position, slowly bend each leg toward your chest and back again. Then, bring your knees up together and slowly rotate them side to side.

Posture pointers

But the major part of maintaining proper posture is reminding yourself to stand and sit straight. And this is the hardest part. Use these little tips to make sure you don't cheat:

Tell your friends- They can serve as your support system and they will be glad to elbow you when you're caught slouching. Regular ticking off is bound to stop you from shuffling and slouching.

Use Pose-it notes- Put them in areas you are daily; your medicines cabinet mirror, you rear-vie mirror, and you computer monitor.

Feel the results- Keep looking at the difference between a good posture and the one you see in the mirror, to really visualize the work to be done.

Exercising often, especially your back and abs, and staying disciplined will reap great physical rewards.

With good posture, you will ne looking thinner, more confident- and you will have all the reasons in the world to stand tall and be proud.


Some Stretch Exercises For Posture Improvement

Stretching Out

Whether you experience such posture problems at tome or at work, some simple stretching exercises can really make a difference to the way your body feels, and remind you to take the time to relax. Try some of these.

Stretch 1

Take off your shoes if you are wearing high heels \, and stand with your feet flat on the floor, about shoulder width apart.

Extend both arms to your left and stretch your body gently but fully in that direction. Relax. Repeat the exercise, this time reaching to the right.

Now reach with both hands up towards the ceiling, continuing to look straight ahead. Really reach as hard and as high as you can, extending the stretch until you are standing up on your toes.

Stretch 2

This one is very good for relaxing sore neck and shoulder muscles that have been strained by poor posture.

First move your head slowly to the left, and hold it for a couple of seconds.

roll you head forward, looking done at your chest, until you are looking towards the right. Be careful not to make any sudden, jerky moves, which will strain your neck muscles further.

Repeat this gentle rolling and stretching motion a few more times, until your neck muscles feel more relaxed.

Shoulder rolls


Shoulder rolls are also effective remedies for muscles strained by incorrect posture. Make gentle "windmills" with your arms, in a backwards direction, five or six times.

Repeat the rolls, this time rotating your arms forward.
Finish off by inhaling deeply, and shrugging you shoulders as high as you can, slowly and thoroughly.

Relax, dropping your shoulders back to their natural level, and exhale fully.












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