Growing up, we all heard the dreaded, “Stand up straight!” Whether we wanted to hear it or not, the truth is, your posture matters!
Beyond it’s physical appearance, bad posture can also be the root of many of your aches and pains. If you are experiencing back pain, neck pain, or even knee pain, you may want to evaluate your posture. And, although it might be difficult, you can change your posture at any age!
What is Good Posture?
That’s a great question! We’ve all heard about having good posture, but do we know what good posture actually is?
According to our Physical Therapist, Jaclyn, the old philosophy of what good posture is that supposedly worked for everyone is a thing of the past! Every body is different. If you were born with a different curvature of your spine than the person sitting next to you, what is considered “correct posture” is going to differ. If everyone were to follow what used to be considered good posture guidelines, some people may experience more pain rather than relieve it!
Instead of focusing on where your head, shoulders, hips, knees, or feet should be, let’s focus more on something that everyone can do – engage the core! If we engage our core, we are helping to support the spine and neighboring muscle groups. As we teach in Pilates, every movement stems from the core, so before you do any movement or even if you are standing in line in the grocery store, help yourself by engaging your core.
If you want to find out what “good posture” is for your body specifically, consult with a Physical Therapist. They can work with you to find out what works for your body, without causing pain.
Why is Posture Important?
When you have good posture, you are helping your body in a number of different ways including: improved balance, fewer injuries, and less pain.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Good posture is important to balance: by standing up straight, you center your weight over your feet.” When we improve our balance, we are decreasing the likelihood of falls, while improving our performance in everyday activities and sports. Through balance training, body joints gain greater stability, which in turn prevents injuries such as ACL tears and ankle sprains.
Good posture leads to the correct positioning of our body as a whole. Proper positioning results in good mechanics and good mechanics help to prevent injury. If we focus on our posture and good positioning, the chances of us experiencing an injury decreases and that’s GREAT news.
Exercises to Practice for Good Posture
So to answer your question of “Can you really change your posture?” - Yes! According to Jaclyn, “The goal is to practice and then commit new postural habits to your short-term memory. With self-reminders and practice, this will eventually become part of your long-term memory. With the right amount of guidance and effort, you can achieve better posture!”
Harvard Health Publishing, "Why good posture matters," https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-good-posture-matters