I think we’ve all heard the words “sit up” at some point in our lives. Usually said by our mom’s, sitting up straight and having ‘good’ posture can have a tremendous impact on your life.
It may not be easy to become someone with good posture, especially if your current posture is not so good. And especially in current society, where slouching forward is very common – slouching over your desk or computer is a hallmark of most office jobs today.
But even though it will be tough to break that cycle, it is a challenge that is worth your while to undertake. Improving your posture can make you feel happier, in addition to providing you with almost instantaneous boosts in energy.
What is Good Posture?
Posture is simply how you hold your body. It is split into two sections; static posture and dynamic posture.
Static posture is how you hold your body when you are stationary, and dynamic posture is how you hold your body when you are moving around.
Good posture centers around keeping a neutral spine – your spine has three natural curves; one is at the neck, one is at the mid-back, and one is at the lower back. Good posture maintains these natural curves. Slouching or overextending is indicative of poor posture.
Your head should always be above your shoulders, and your shoulders should always be above your hips.
New research out of San Francisco State University has established a strong link between brain and body that goes both ways. This research found that slouching can increase depression and decrease energy levels.
Additionally, they found that, by simply standing upright, you can improve your mood and increase your energy levels. The study surveyed 110 students, who were instructed first to walk, slouched, down the hallways, then to skip down the hallway.
After, the participants completed surveys. Everyone reported lower energy levels after the slouch-walking than after the skipping. And for those students who were already depressed, they reported even lower energy levels after the slouch-walking.
The study does note that depression is a complex disorder that is the result of many factors – posture alone is not enough to stop depression entirely. However, it is a significant factor that may provide help to people struggling with depression.
Fake it ‘Till You Make it (Superhero Poses)
Posture plays a big part in overall psychology; it is known that your posture can grant you a huge confidence boost, something that is incredibly helpful right before a big job interview, a speech, or a date.
The ‘superhero pose’ is one that involves standing with your legs spread, your chin up, and your hands either on your hips with your elbows bent, or flexing your biceps next to your head (think WonderWoman and Usain Bolt).
This is called power posing – put simply, these postures convey confidence, strength, and power. And this is where the fake it ‘till you make it comes into play. Studies have found that power posing actually floods your body with certain hormones (notably testosterone) that are associated with power and confidence.
Basically, if you hold yourself the way a confident person (a superhero) would hold themselves, you trick your brain into becoming confident. Again, the link between brain and body, and body and brain is incredibly powerful.
How to Improve Your Posture
I would be amiss to tell you all of this, and avoid pointing out a few tips and tricks to help improve your posture, and therefore your mood and energy.
The most important thing to do is simply pay attention to your body. If you’re walking, pay attention to how you’re walking.
Are you hunched forward? Are you leaning back? Is your chin up? Does your spine feel neutral? And if you’re sitting, how are you sitting? Is your back relatively straight? Are you hunching over your desk?
If you do a lot of computer work, you might want to consider a few things.
One, make sure to have a good, padded chair that adjusts to your liking.
Two, look into a computer stand – these stands can accomplish a few things like adjusting at an angle so that you don’t have to bend your neck to look at the screen. They can also allow your computer to be pulled up so that you can work while standing, which is recommended.
And, if you do spend a long time every day at a desk or computer, try and get up every half hour and stretch or move around.
Otherwise, exercises that strengthen the back and core muscles will help your posture, as much of posture revolves around core strength. Plus, exercise in general helps improve posture; going for a run allows your body to relax into a natural position, which helps promote better posture.
Posture is really important, and can have powerful impacts on your mental health, in addition to your physical health.
You’ll be happier and more energized if you work on maintaining a good posture, plus you’ll have the added benefit of improved confidence and reduced risk of injury.
So, no more hunching over that computer. Get up, move around, and stand like Superman.
I’m a personal trainer based in Denver (Matrix Gym) and a true fitness nerd. If I’m not training clients or working out at my home gym, I’m probably skiing, cycling or hiking with my dog Rufus.
Get in touch: email@example.com