Hey, you’re no slouch (even your boss agrees). Still, there’s a good chance that your stance suggests otherwise. Indeed, poor posture is an exceedingly common problem that can be explained by a host of factors, both genetic and environmental. But what’s so bad about hunching over every once in a while, you ask? Well, we spoke to a few chiropractic experts to find out, and what we learned about the benefits of good posture will make you stand at attention.
9 Benefits of Good Posture That Will Make You Sit Up Straight ASAP
Meet the Experts
- Dr. Lev Kalika, DC, owner of New York Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy
- Dr. Kevin Lees, D.C., manager of auditing and quality, from The Joint Chiropractic,
- Sandra Gail Frayna, PT, founder of Hudson Premier Physical Therapy & Sports
But First, What Is Correct Posture Anyway?
It’s not hard to recognize the difference between bad and good posture in others, but if you suffer from the former, a concise explanation of what you should be doing is likely in order. According to Dr. Lees, achieving good posture involves standing in such a way that your ears align with your shoulders, hips and feet. This stance maintains the proper alignment of the three natural curves in your spine (i.e., the one in your lower back or lumbar spine, mid back or thoracic spine, and neck or cervical spine). What’s more, this ideal stance should be your default—one that you routinely assume with little or no effort.
Dr. Lees also confirms that your desk job isn’t doing you any favors, since “when sitting, your muscles relax which can negatively affect your posture.” As for bedtime, the expert says that lying down and sleeping requires the spine to remain in a neutral position, which can lead to twisting that increases the natural curves of the spine, unless you use pillows to your benefit. That’s why the expert recommends back sleepers place a pillow under their knees, while side sleepers use one between their knees.
9 Benefits of Good Posture
1. Improved Breathing
The experts agree that standing upright helps open air passages so that you can take deeper breaths and fully expand your lungs. “Breathing and posture are intimately related through the respiratory diaphragm, which in reality, is involved in both breathing and spinal stabilization,” says Dr. Kalika. In other words, good posture improves diaphragm function, and improved diaphragm function plays a critical role in maintaining (wait for it) good posture.
2. Stronger Core
“Standing upright and straight works the core with no strain or effort by extending the abdominal muscles and keeping them at work,” Frayna tells us. Needless to say, that’s excellent news for folks who want to get toned, but don’t have the luxury of a personal trainer or even much time to spend at the gym.
3. Better Sexual Performance
It turns out that the core workout you get from standing up straight is a boon to your sex life, too. “Genital stamina and the ability to receive pleasure is tightly connected to pelvic floor function,” says Dr. Kalika. And, as luck would have it, the pelvic floor is one of the abdominal muscle groups strengthened by good posture.
4. Reduced Back and Neck Pain
If you’re sore all over and tied up in knots (raises hand), poor posture could be to blame. Frayna explains that slouching and other forms of bad posture place strain on the back and neck and increase pressure on the shoulder blades, whilst weakening and limiting blood flow to important muscle groups. The end result is physical discomfort that’s liable to get worse over time. Bottom line: Straighten up and you’ll spare yourself a world of pain.
5. Improved Digestion
The chiropractors confirm that slouching can seriously slow down your digestive tract—namely because the diaphragm and pelvic floor are closely connected to the digestive organs and have an impact on the pressure in the abdominal cavity. Practice good posture on the regular, and improved peristalsis and digestive organ function will follow suit.
6. Enhanced Athletic Performance
Scientific studies have demonstrated that poor posture significantly increases the risk of injury during physical exertion and thus prevents peak athletic performance. This 2020 study published in Frontiers in Physiology found that even short-duration poor posture prior to physical activity had a negative impact on athletic performance. The takeaway? It’s great to stay fit, but if you want to make the most of your workouts (and emerge from them in one piece), you’d be wise not to slouch outside the gym.
7. Improved Mood
People suffering from depression and anxiety are typically portrayed as having poor posture—and there’s a scientific explanation behind the stereotypical depiction. Per Dr. Kalika, the posture-emotional axis is real, and it relates to the fascia—a highly innervated network of connective tissues that are an integral component of our posture and play a significant role in carrying signals from the body to brain via different neurotransmitters. To put it plainly, the body and mind are, indeed, intimately connected.
Most importantly, while depression and anxiety can contribute to poor posture in the first place, it’s not so much a one-way street as it is a negative feedback loop. Current research suggests that consciously fixing the way you sit and stand may result in a demonstrable mood boost, even on bad days.
8. Reduced Risk of Osteoarthritis and Scoliosis
When it comes to scoliosis and other spinal conditions like osteoarthritis, poor posture isn’t always the primary culprit. That said, the experts say that maintaining good posture can prevent these conditions in folks not already suffering from them and delay the acceleration of symptoms in those who are.
9. Alleviates Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction
What does your back have to do with your jaw? Well, quite a bit, says Dr. Lees: “Forward head posture leads to increased tension and poor biomechanics of your TMJ, temporomandibular joint, which leads to pain when chewing and talking, as well as clicking of the joint and headaches.” Roger that.