May is Posture Month so Stand and Sit Taller
With headlines like “Sitting is the New Smoking”, text-neck, the computer slump and other new health problems are always in the news, raising awareness that excessive sitting is a true health risk—even if you exercise!
A recent Annals of Internal Medicine study (1) showed that sitting more than 12 hours a day was associated with an increase in cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The likely reason: when sitting, your torso folds over your pelvis, compressing vital organs and training imbalances in the deep core muscles which cause back pain.
There’s more to improving posture than trying to stand straighter. Posture professionals know the key to standing taller is training internal posture awareness and addressing our external posture environment.
How does your posture really look? You can use a camera to check your internal posture awareness. Have a friend take a full-body picture when you’re standing straight and relaxed (not stiff and rigid). You can try the free PostureZone® app for more precise measurements of how your head, torso and pelvis are aligning over your feet, so you can better see how your posture really is even when you feel like you’re standing up straight.
To improve your posture environment, take a look at how you sit. Back pain often results when subtle muscle imbalances become progressively more out of sync. Over time, the spinal vertebrae can shift and “buckle”, pinching a nerve or injuring a disc.
Pay attention to the tilt of your pelvis—it’s the base you’re sitting on. Sitting with your pelvis level or tilting slightly forward promotes healthy spinal curves, and is key to training important core muscles to automatically balance the torso in an open, level position.
Expensive ergonomic chairs are a waste when not adjusted intelligently for your body. One reason back supports haven’t been shown to help long-term (and may become a crutch and add to sitting problems) is they hold the spine in a curve but don’t engage the core muscles necessary to support the torso.
A good option to improve sitting environments is the BackJoy SitSmart because it cradles and levels the pelvis. Leveling the pelvis allows the torso to center above it, unfolding the core and putting the spine in a more relaxed, balanced and comfortable position.
Posture is an underappreciated aspect of health, and one you can do something about. Look at your posture environment, and for a few minutes a day focus on standing and sitting taller to feel good and look your best.
(1) Biswas, A., Oh, P. I., Faulkner, G. E., Bajaj, R. R., Silver, M. A., Mitchell, M. S., & Alter, D. A. (2015). Sedentary time and its association with risk for disease incidence, mortality, and hospitalization in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 162(2), 123-32. doi:10.7326/M14-1651.
Posture Expert Dr Steven Weiniger is creator of the StrongPosture® exercises and author of Stand Taller~Live Longer: An Anti- Aging Strategy: 10 Minutes a day to Keep your Body Active and Pain-Free. For more info or to find a Certified Posture Exercise Professional (CPEP) see www.BodyZone.com