For optimal health, we have to be mindful of how we manage stress physically by analyzing posture and its role in helping us stay well.
The hard-working staff in multifamily do the majority of work from a desk. The phrase “sitting is the new smoking” is beginning to ring more true as longer hours propped in front of a computer start to take a physical toll.
In this post, we’ll define what posture and form are, show a few examples of how it affects health & wellness, and provide at least six best practices for getting started with posture mindfulness and correction in your current lifestyle.
What is ‘Good’ Posture?
Good posture is an “upright” position. Slouching or slumping places undue stress on the joints and other physiological systems.
Neutral pelvic position
If you don’t remember anything from this article, remember this term: Neutral Pelvis.
Awareness of a pelvic tilt is a major step in the process toward better posture.
Next time you sit in a chair or at your desk, take a moment to analyze what your natural tendencies are - how you sit and where your tailbone ends up. If your tailbone is tucked or protruding, there’s some work to be done. If your tailbone is aligned with your spine, you’re on the right track. Pilates is a great resource for practicing a neutral pelvis position, and a method proven to improve core strength and stability.
Spine alignment and neck position
The spine has natural curvature that stabilizes the body. If the cervical spine is misaligned, get ready for headaches. If the thoracic spine, behind and connected to the rib cage, is misaligned, get ready for cardiovascular and lung issues. Misalignment in the lumbar spine is famous for causing lower back pain, sometimes so severe that it puts people out of work.
Why is Improving Posture Important?
The diaphragm needs room in the body to function properly, as do the lungs. A slumped position or posture drastically decreases airflow, putting unnecessary pressure on the chest cavity. The diaphragm also stabilizes the lumbar spine and aids in the digestive process, so the ripple effect of malfunction reaches beyond only breathing. Allowing space for these systems to function at their highest capacity means checking in with your posture, engaging your core to bring your body more upright, and focusing on your breath moving freely through your body down into the spine.
A 2017 study conducted at San Francisco State University asked the question “Does posture influence the body psychologically?” The answer is essentially that posture changes the flow of hormones, so the effects are both psychological and physiological. Slumped posture saw an increase in cortisol, the stress hormone, and a decrease in testosterone, a hormone that, when deficient, can be linked to depression. Adapting an upright posture, “standing tall”, is an effective method in the treatment of depression and increasing positive affect.
Enhanced Fitness Development
Incorporating movements in a fitness routine that build strength and mobility in the core protects the body from strain and fatigue, especially in the lower back where many of us have aches and pains. Good posture means minimal stress on joints, and personal trainers are a great feedback resource to safely improve form and technique for best results.
During a work day where the majority of time is spent sitting, short bouts of standing or light-intensity cycling and walking may improve acute cognitive performance. Take time in your workday to self-care and stay in tune with your body. It becomes a trickle-down effect: better posture leads to better breathing, better breathing allows better brain and body function, better brain and body function increases productivity and performance.
6 Posture Improvement Tips & Tricks
1. Enlist the help of a personal trainer
- Perfecting exercise and stretching form and technique with the guidance of an expert is the quickest way to start doing the right kind of work toward better posture.
2. Take stretch breaks
- Downward facing dog is a great core igniter and inverted position to reset your system.
- If you’re stationary during the work day, set a timer to check in every hour as a reminder to stretch or move your body.
- Get over the “cellphone slump”!
- Try chin tucks, side-to-side neck stretches, and a variety of yoga poses to combat unhealthy curvature.
3. Strengthen your core
- Planks, planks and more planks - mix it up with side planks and challenge a friend to who can hold this position the longest
- Lower back muscles are key in maintaining good posture, so throw in a few exercises like “Superman's” to keep them strong and in check.
4. At your desk, find your neutral pelvic position and sit upright
- Utilize a towel, pillow, posture correcting seat or a combination of all three to find a sitting position in your chair that creates a neutral pelvic position.
5. Check your favorite sleeping position
- Side sleeper? Grab a pillow and place it between your knees to prevent spine strain.
- Try your best to sleep flat on your back with a pillow under your knees.
- More of a stomach sleeper? Ditch the pillow and sleep with your head flat.
6. Get some tech
- Search “Posture Corrector” on Amazon and find a strap, chair, or pillow of your liking. There are even shirts and pants that keep you aware of your posture at all times!
- Take it a step further to correctors with magnetic sensors that buzz you when you’re slacking or apps that watch you from your webcam to let you know you’re slouching (again).
Fun fact: Would you believe “tongue posture” is a thing, and improving it is studied to help sleep apnea patients? It’s true!
Awareness of tightness and painful areas in the body is a great opportunity to address how you carry stress. Taking mindful action with or without the help of health professionals to ease the excessive tension over time and maintain better posture will surely lead to an elevated state of wellness and health. Be mindful of your neutral pelvis and aligned spine from your neck to your tailbone.
No better time than the present!
I specialize in the areas of health, wellness and fitness in the multifamily industry. Any property owner wants a high-functioning staff and high-performing property, and I can help achieve both. Check out my other blogs.