Having bad posture is something that can seriously damage many different aspects of your health. It’s actually quite unattractive to have a stooped or hunched posture but more to the point, it can cause all kinds of problems that affect areas throughout your body – and even other aspects of your health.
For example, if you have rounded shoulders, this can not only look age you tremendously and make you look shorter but also throw off your center of balance, making you more likely to trip and fall.
It results in your head being craned forward and can result in shoulder issues as your pecs are shortened and tightened, placing too much strain on your deltoids. Even your circulation can be negatively affected by poor posture! Check this link for more on why posture is so critical to good all-round health.
But simply telling yourself to ‘stand up straight’ isn’t going to cut it. If it was that easy to fix unhealthy behaviors, then none of us would have any bad habits! Instead, you should consider using the numerous different tools and gadgets that exist to help you fix your posture and stand up straighter. Here are just a few of the best examples…
One of the biggest problems when it comes to our posture these days is working in an office. In an office, you spend the vast majority of your time sitting down and typing, which causes all manner of muscular imbalances.
For starters, it means that you’re shortening your leg flexors, such as your glutes and your hamstrings. These causes them to become tighter over time, while your leg extensors – such as your quadriceps – become stretched and weak.
The result is an anterior pelvic tilt – an unattractive looking posture that throws your hip out of line, makes you appear shorter and causes discomfort. Then there’s the action of typing, which causes us to stoop our heads and shorten our pecs!
A standing desk can help you to solve these problems by getting you to spend portions of the day upright. This has the added advantage of improving circulation and some famous writers – including Hemmingway himself – claim that this actually encourages more creativity.
A standing desk does make it harder to concentrate for long periods though, so the best standing desk will be one that can transform back into a ‘regular’ desk when necessary. Stand while you’re checking emails and performing other brainless tasks, sit when you need to get the heavy work done!
Intelliskin shirts are shirts that utilize thin scaffolding to encourage the wearer to stand up straighter. The creator, Dr. Kilberd, explains that this encourages specific muscles to fire in the body, including many in the trunk, shoulders, abs and spine. More on this here.
Seeing as you’ll be sitting at countless times throughout the day, the right seat can make a huge difference to your posture.
There are countless different types of chairs that are designed to help force you into the right position – including ergonomic stools that force you to tuck your knees behind yourself – thereby forcing your upper body into a more upright stance.
Balance ball chairs are even more fantastic – not only do these force you to sit completely upright (as otherwise you’ll fall off!) but they also incorporate balance training and strengthen your core muscles at the same time. You can actually burn calories while you’re sitting at your desk working with one of these!
While getting a balance ball chair might sound like a great idea, the reality is not always that easy. A lot of employers won’t like you bringing balance balls into the office for example – and in some jobs it wouldn’t be possible even if they were feeling relaxed.
The good news is that the right cushion can fix this problem. A posture cushion can be carried in a case, bag or by hand and then placed on any chair. Often these are formed like a wedge, which will then put the upper body in a much more upright position. These can also be excellent for combating existing complaints such as sciatica – while preventing the onset of new ones!
The Lumo Lift (read more about it here) is a smart wearable that does something other than track steps and calories for a change! This genius product is a magnetic device that can be worn on the shoulder and that collects data about your posture throughout the day.
From there, it can then coach you to sit and stand up by gently vibrating whenever you’ve maintained a poor posture for too long. For those who struggle with mindfulness, there’s no missing a vibrating device on your shoulder!
Not every tool to help you stand up straighter needs to be an expensive product. Sometimes simple is best, as is the case when using just a simple piece of string, tied around your waist. The idea is to tie this around your stomach, at about the height of your navel. It shouldn’t be tight but should force you to slightly hold in your stomach.
So what will this do for you?
Essentially, this reminds you (and forces you) to keep your stomach flat. This in turn requires you to engage your transverse abdominis – the ‘corset’ muscle in your stomach that you use to hold your guts in.
This not only gives you a flatter and more attractive-looking set of abs but also prevents you from letting your gut hang out and upper body slump. And as you strengthen this crucial muscle, soon you won’t need the string!
Okay, so it’s not really about the mat so much as the yoga… but if you really want to fix your posture then a bit of yoga or Pilates will do wonders to help you tone the necessary muscles and develop good habits. Get a mat and start practicing!