[dropcap]If you wake up every morning with an achy back or frequently suffer headaches, your posture might be to blame. Poor posture puts your body out of alignment, causing unnecessary stress on your muscles and joints.[/dropcap]
Proper body alignment is important in every aspect of life — not just while you’re standing. When you’re hunched over your desk at work, slouching in the kitchen or sleeping on your stomach, you’re forcing your body to work against its natural design. Recognizing your bad posture habits and then making small changes will make a big difference!
When you’re sitting, keep your shoulders relaxed and lined up with your hips, your feet flat on the floor and your neck straight. If you’re working on a computer screen, adjust the height and angle of your monitor so you aren’t looking down at it. If you primarily work on a laptop, consider investing in an adjustable monitor so that the screen sits at eye level.
When you think about posture, you probably think about standing up straight, with shoulders back and feet planted about your shoulder-width apart, but there’s more to it than that. Equally distribute your weight so you’re not putting too much of it on one side of your body. When you feel the urge to move, it helps to shift your weight from the balls of your feet to your toes rather than shifting it from one foot to another. Additionally, be sure not to cross your arms or stick your hands in your pockets. When you’re standing, your arms should rest at your sides.
To test your standing posture, put your back against a wall and try sliding your hand between your lower back and the wall. If your hand can’t pass between your back and the wall, or if there’s much more space than your hand needs, readjust your stance.
The most overlooked aspect of proper body alignment is lying down. Generally, firm mattresses are better for maintaining good posture while sleeping. Your pillow should gently raise your head — not your shoulders — and if you sleep on your side, you can add another pillow between your knees to keep themaligned with your neck, shoulders and spine. If you sleep on your back, you can also use a pillow under your knees to raise them slightly and keep your lower body aligned.
Correcting your body alignment requires you to stay mindful of your posture until you disrupt your old habits and form new ones. Over time — and with the proper kinds of exercise — keeping your body properly aligned will come more naturally and require less conscious effort.
There are many physiological benefits to sitting properly, standing up straight and sleeping in a more a comfortable position. By making these simple adjustments, you’ll put less stress on your muscles and joints and start feeling better!