The Importance of Posture

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 0 No tags

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Photo Credit: Wallace Kirkland/LIFE

We’ve all been told to sit up straight and push our shoulders back (but not too far back). But posture is one of those things like making your bed: our tendency is to only do it when we are told to do it.

I used to have good posture accidentally. As a ballet student for the majority of my pre-college life, it just felt plain weird to hunch my back. When I moved to DC after college, however, I didn’t have a car, and was  carrying bags of groceries all over the city. I am convinced that when my shoulders started developing muscles in a carrying position (have you ever tried to carry a heavy bag with good posture?), my posture began to suffer. I also have a bad habit of sitting in pretzel-like positions. Not the best for developing good posture. I am now suffering the consequences.

So lately, I have been working on being more aware of my shoulders. When I sit, I push my shoulders back. When I walk, I imagine a string attached to the top of my head, pulling me up (thanks, ballet teachers!). Everyone will tell you that posture is magical. Not only is it a confidence booster, it makes you appear more authoritative and respectable to others. Do you ever notice that slouching makes you feel worse about life? I know that is true for me.

Elizabeth Hawes, an American fashion designer, wrote this in 1942:

Let them be fat. Let them be thin. Let their legs be short or long, their chests be flat or curved–but, oh, heaven, let the day come fast when the women of America will stand up straight!

Good posture is always attractive. It makes everybody look more stylish. While it can be a difficult habit to develop, there are so many benefits, outside of aesthetics, to sitting up straight!

  • Bad posture puts more stress on the body. And what do people say about Americans and stress? Something along the lines of: we don’t need any more of it.
  • Good posture helps our bodies work properly.
  • “Without good posture, your overall health and total efficiency may be compromised. Because the long-term effects of poor posture can affect bodily systems (such as digestion, elimination, breathing, muscles, joints and ligaments), a person who has poor posture may often be tired or unable to work efficiently or move properly”. (source)
  • Speaking from personal experience, bad posture results in tired, achy neck and shoulder muscles.
  • Your posture speaks volumes to other people. It can translate as depressed, confident, happy, tense, or self-conscious. Yes, people subconsciously make judgments about you based on the alignment of your skeleton.
  • Good posture means better breathing. Oxygen is essential to life, have you heard?

How do you know if you postures is correct? Here are some helpful tips. Someone once told me that when walking, think of your hip bones leading the way. Not your stomach. Good posture becomes easier the more your muscles become stronger from being held in the right place, so hang in there.

I’m bound and determined to banish bad posture in my life. It is unnecessary, and I feel better when I have correct posture. I also can’t afford to lose any more inches, and I want to be adorable when I am an old lady, not shrunken.  Do you want to join me in my posture challenge? I plan on being more aware, and doing more yoga (great for posture!). Let’s do this!

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