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Seven Stunning Things You Must Know About Good Posture

Feb 23, 2008
Have you ever caught your reflection in a window or mirror and saw that your head leads the way - doesn't sit directly over your shoulders? Or noticed that your shoulders are too rounded and your upper back is slumped forward? These are common postural problems that affect millions of Americans.

Your posture, the way you carry yourself, is important for a variety of reasons - a few of which may surprise you. Here's 5 to consider.

Look 10 Years Younger

A study done in Louisville, Kentucky, showed how posture affects perceptions of age and beauty. Two women, both five foot four, one weighing 105 pounds and the other 125, were asked to put on leotards and cover their faces. Side-view pictures were taken of each woman with normal and slumping posture. Then sixty people were asked to look at the pictures and rate the women's appearances. When the women stood up straight, viewers consistently described them as younger and more attractive. In fact, the upright 125 pound woman was rated more favorably than the slumping 105 pound woman.

Nothing ages you faster than a shrinking, stooped posture. A strong, straight spine portrays youth and vigor. Slumping forward decreases your chest measurement, causes rounded and narrow shoulders, and forces your belly to stick out more.

Look 10 Pounds Thinner

Simply by standing straighter, you will instantly slim your waistline by an inch or more. When the upper back slumps forward, it presses the rib cage down on the abdominal organs. The belly protrudes, making the waistline appear larger than it really is. Every second you stand or sit with your rib cage slumping forward, you are weakening your abdominal muscles as well as back muscles.

Radiate Confidence

Psychological studies have shown that good posture exudes health, vitality, and confidence, while slouching signals insecurity, weakness, and self-doubt. Consciously or not, we tell the world a lot about our mental and emotional state by the way we stand, sit, and move. In fact, posture is one of the first three things people notice about each other (the other two are hair and eyes).

Improving your posture can help you build self-esteem, interview well for jobs, improve your work performance, particularly in sales or business, and convey an air of self-respect.

Regain Lost Height

If you've ever been told by a nurse at your doctor's office that you are an inch or two shorter than you were in previous years, it is NOT because you've shrunk. It is because your spinal curves have become more exaggerated. In other words, your posture has become worse. Once you learn the keys to improving your posture, you'll find you will re-gain most, if not all, of that 'lost' height.

A Better Look And Fit For Your Clothes

So many people spend lots of money on their clothes every year. But if your posture is bad, your clothes will not fit you correctly, no matter how much you spend on them. If your head hangs too far forward from your shoulders or your upper back is slumped, your mid-section becomes wider than it really is and your belly sticks forward way more than it should. Improve your posture and your clothes will automatically look better and fit you better.

Improve Your Athletic Performance

When you work out or play sports, poor posture increases the chance that you will injure your neck, shoulder, upper back, lower back, hips, and knees. Good posture reduces injuries, muscle strain and aches, and helps you move more easily, gracefully, and powerfully; and gives your lungs more room so you have a greater breathing capacity. In fact, a slumping posture can decrease lung capacity by as much as 30%.

Prevent Back & Neck Pain

This is the most important benefit to improving posture. Good posture can prevent a lifetime of annoying and painful back problems. Poor posture is the leading cause of back and neck pain.

The spine, or backbone, is the main supporting structure of the entire body. It is composed of twenty-four interlocking bones called vertebrae, which are stacked one upon the other. In between the vertebrae are disks, which are meant to provide shock absorption and cushioning. This is a delicate, finely balanced structure that can easily be injured. When posture is poor, uneven pressures are placed along the spine and the joints no longer fit together the way they are supposed to. Everyday activities can result in friction, pain, irritation and excessive wear and tear, especially in the lower, mid and upper back as well as neck.

Poor posture also forces some muscles to work excessively hard while others don't have to work at all. They just get weaker and weaker, setting up a vicious cycle of discomfort and pain. Gradually, the muscles lose their ability to support the body correctly, and posture grows even worse.

Knowing the basics of good posture can make the difference between a healthy back and an aching one. When properly aligned, your body moves with ease and comfort. The muscles in the front and back of your body work together harmoniously.
About the Author
Janice Novak has a Master's Degree in Health & Physical Education and is an internationally acclaimed author, speaker and wellness consultant. Her program improves health, decreases sick days and improves productivity, alertness, energy and motivation. Visit Improve Your Posture
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