Here at Z-CoiL, we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of your shoes. Of course we do, it’s what we do for a living! We’ve spent years thinking about people’s feet and how to correct body positioning and provide support from the ground up.
But our bodies are wonderfully integrated machines. Just as proper support, cushioning, and alignment of your feet can provide pain relief to your ankles, knees, hips, and upward, so good posture delivers many positive results body-wide, with attention to just a few details.
Don’t tell your mother, but all those years she kept telling you to stand up straight she actually knew what she was talking about.
What Good Posture Isn’t
Good Posture is not a one-size-fits-all solution. If the words ‘good posture’ bring images of ramrod straight military stance to mind, you have the wrong idea. There is nothing rigid or strained about standing correctly. Instead, you’re aiming for what is called “neutral spine” – a natural alignment that has three small curves in it from neck to tailbone.
Each person’s bone and soft tissue structure is different, so a neutral, correct stance will be slightly different for everyone—although certainly there are some commonsense guidelines that we can follow.
Good posture is also not abandoning the career that requires you to sit for hours on end in order to align your body in a healthier way. Even people who work a long-term desk job can make a few basic changes that will drastically improve their overall body health and comfort.
What Good Posture Is
- Good posture is the correct alignment of our body’s bones and joints, held in place by adequate strength provided by our system of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. When you maintain this proper alignment, it eases the strain on all your body parts and how they work together, leaving your more comfortable, and less prone to injury.
- Good posture improves your oxygen intake by opening up your lungs and diaphragm for full, deep breaths. Breathing deeply has several added benefits: not only does it help your cells throwing off waste properly and deliver oxygenated blood on demand, it also aids your mental sharpness, concentration, and memory function.
- Good posture improves your social presence and your confidence. When you stand up straight, your torso pulls in tight, making you appear slimmer and helping your clothes fit better. You also come across as more sure of yourself and in control.
Think about how animals act when they are sizing themselves up against one another. The dominant one stands up straight and tall, and the submissive one slouches down to show they are no threat. We aren’t suggesting you go through the world intimidating people left and right, but a little confidence goes a long way.
Standing up straight and tall actually changes the hormones in your body in a good way. It increases your testosterone (you need it also, ladies), and it reduces the stress hormone cortisol in measurable amounts. That’s a pretty cool result just from striding through life with good posture!
When you stand, your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles, should form one straight line. As a reminder, your spine and neck will not form a straight line, they have three natural curves to follow. Have someone take a picture of you from the side as you stand in your normal position, then make corrections from there.
When you sit, make sure your feet can touch the floor, your low back has lumbar support, and your line of sight from chair to workspace is the proper height. Keep frequently used objects within reach and make sure your wrists, forearms, and shoulders can stay relaxed while you work. And—this is important—keep in mind that even if you sit in the correct position for alignment, you’ll still need to get up and stretch your body.
We only have one body to get us through this life. A little preventative maintenance in the form of good posture can go a long way toward keeping that body pain free and working smoothly.