Adopt good posture and change your life!
As Stride Coaches, we often hear amazing stories about how our Stride technique brings renewed confidence and happiness. These are often unexpected and under-discussed benefits from exercise, so it was heartening to see some clear evidence from recent university research.
“Good body posture can affect not only what others think about us, but also how we think about ourselves,” says Richard Petty, Professor of Psychology at Ohio State University and co-author of the study.
Posture is much misunderstood, yet its significance in our lives is vital. So to help you learn more about posture, let’s start from the beginning!
How is bad posture caused?
- Lifestyle factors or an illness that causes you to be sedentary for long periods of time in bad posture, such as when you’re sitting at your work desk.
- Stress that involves a physical or emotional burden.
- Hereditary or genetic posture deviation.
- Injury that causes reduced or bad movement patterns.
- Pregnancy, which can create different body positioning.
Why does the body create bad posture?
Once an event or a long-term situation that causes bad posture has occurred, your brain gets straight to work, recruiting the muscles it believes will do the best job of avoiding discomfort.
Depending on the causes of your bad posture, this could happen over a long period of time, during which your body will start to re-align itself with awkward or uncoordinated movements. Your brain and muscles will then retain these movements as a learned response.
So in order to correct your posture, your brain and muscles will need to be re-educated. Happily, this is often relatively easy to do!
The correct stability muscles for good posture have to be conscientiously learned. The effects of faulty muscle recruitment patterns can result in injuries, painful joints, stiffness creating poor movement, reduced energy and poor performance in other areas of the body, such as digestion.
So, what can you do?
- Always encourage good posture as a matter of routine, with regular and dedicated focus times you can use to check in with yourself, such as when you’re looking in the bathroom mirror!
- Activate the Cylinder – a popular Pilates move – before you exercise (see our recent Pilates blog post for more information).
- Relax tense muscles.
- Use functional exercises; those that will help you with day-to-day movement.
What is good posture?
It all starts with your feet!
- Stand with your feet hip distance apart.
- Your knees should be soft (unlocked), as you gently press evenly through your toes and mid heel.
- Gently lift out of your hips, with your head centred.
- Draw your shoulders down your back.
If you prefer one specific prompt, try telling yourself:
“Raise your heart centre to the sun,”…or simply, “Look interested!”
These tips will improve your overall body placement, but that isn’t all. Not only will you feel better, you will also start to notice more around you, becoming naturally more present and in the moment.
What other benefits will good posture bring?
By progressively sitting, standing and walking tall, the following benefits will start to occur (almost as if by magic!)
- Easing of joint pain in your back, neck, hips, knees and feet.
- Allowing your spinal discs space to become the shock absorbers they are designed to be.
- Creating space for better digestion and breathing.
- Strengthening of your body, for better stability and a reduction in falls.
- Increased energy.
- Fewer migraines.
So in conclusion, good posture provides you with a great foundation for everything you do, both emotionally and physically. Use the posture techniques we have shared to help strengthen your mind in a potentially stressful situation, too – they will help you no end.
Simply Stride is different to most other physical training, because all of our materials are developed with good posture as the foundation. You are therefore safer, and will progress more strongly, than with other types of exercise.
If you would like to know more about how good posture can improve your specific health conditions, or how moving with best postural alignment will improve your pace and distance when walking (as well as all those benefits above!), then please get in contact.