On Good Posture

by Dr. Punita Rice Life

On Good Posture

Do you have good posture? I grew up being scolded to stand up straighter, so I’m really aware of my posture. But when I’m around my mom, she still reminds me to stand up straight, so maybe there’s room for improvement.

Here are some thoughts on good posture — why good posture is important in the first place, how to have good standing posture, good sitting posture, plus, heels and posture. Read on if you want to know more…

Why good posture is so important

Your posture is incredibly important — for how you look, and for how you feel. Here are 3 reasons why it’s so important to have good posture (besides because your mom always tells you you look better when you stand up straight)…

1. Good posture makes you feel better.

Good posture can make you happier! (Here’s an article about six ways good posture can make your day better). Plus, it prevents muscle pain, helps ward off arthritis, helps fight lower back strain and injury, and even helps maintain your fitness.

2. Good posture makes you more confident.

And, it can even make you happier, more confident, and less risk-averse (here’s a link to an article about this). Besides creating a more pleasing image, good posture projects a head-held-high air of confidence that is pleasing, powerful, and admirable.

Posture and dress change profoundly how you feel about yourself and how others feel about you, like it or not. (From 88 Important Truths I’ve Learned About Life).

3. Good posture makes you look better.

It can make you appear taller; elongate your silhouette; strengthen your core; make your clothes fit your frame better; make your clothes look better fitted and more expensive; make you appear younger; make you more graceful in your movements; make you appear more svelte.

How to have good posture

As I’m sure you are sufficiently convinced that you should improve your posture, you need to know how to do it.  According to habit, good posture is a little more complex than it seems, and is actually a “dynamic balance of the muscles on the front, back, and sides of our bodies.”  It’s vital to engage these muscles in the correct way, and maintain good posture regularly.

As you might expect, becoming physically active and working out regularly can help your posture tremendously.

  • Strength-training can help make good posture more natural
  • Yoga can help your posture immensely (while toning your figure and building strength)
  • Doing exercises specifically geared toward improving your posture will have the best results. The habit blog suggests some great exercises specifically for improving posture (so does this website and this website)
  • Becoming more active in general can help keep your body in better shape, thus allowing your muscles to maintain good posture  with more ease

Bonus reason why good posture is important: My mother says so.

How to have good Standing Posture

When you’re standing, imagine an invisible line or cord connecting your body down the center (vertically).  It should connect you from your ears to your shoulders, down to your ankles. Slouching on rare occasion won’t destroy your body, but maintaining strong and straight posture the majority of the time is important.

A note about lifting things: A lot of people with good posture forget all about it when they have to move or lift something heavy.  The key to maintaining good posture in these situations is to lift with your legs, not your back, thus allowing your spine to remain straight.  This page has useful tips and a diagram on proper lifting techniques.

How to have good Seated Posture

When you’re going to be seated in a chair for a long time, try and make sure it’s one with proper back / lumbar support.  If you have no control over the chair you’re using, or if you must sit on a backless chair or stool, you can still sit with good posture, it’ll just require a little more control of your core.  For some more pointers, check out this page.

(Here’s an article on how to “De-Quasimodo” yourself.)

How do heels impact posture?

Heels. Some of us adore them, and others of us despise them, and even more of us feel both feelings simultaneously. Whichever camp you subscribe to, it is important to acknowledge that wearing heels on a regular basis, even the “right way,” will have a detrimental effect on your overall posture (not to mention the health of your entire body). And of course, as the wise Drake said:

“Heels hurt to walk in — but they go with the clutch that you carry your lip gloss in.”

In any case, besides pain, there’s the question of whether heels are really bad for you. (Here’s an article on heels and long-term foot health.) Even if you’re walking with proper technique while wearing heels, which is supposed to minimize the detrimental health effects, heels are still bad for your body.

…As an aside: it’s hard to wear heels all the time! About 5 years ago, I read this post on The Cost of Glamour, that comments on how it seems to take a certain kind of woman to wear heels all of the time. (Also, women in positions of power and authority seem to be the ones who wear heels more frequently than their less powerful counterparts — does this reflect some kind of psychological association with heels and power?) I commented on that post back then and said:

What breaks my heart even more is that when I look over my list of women who inspire me, and I take stock of what I’m consistently attracted to aesthetically, high heels are involved 99.9% of the time. It does take a certain kind of woman to commit to wearing heels all the time, and I’m inspired to try to step up my game. (Eventually.)

So here’s my question — how much do you think about your posture?

(This post is an updated version of one that originally appeared on my old blog back in 2012. Featured image from Modern Retro Woman, in an article on “Model Posture” in the 1950s.)

P.S. – Here’s an article from Prevention on how your heels might be making you fat. Also, here’s a reminder to Be Kind to Yourself.

About the Author

Dr. Punita Rice

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Dr. Punita Rice is a wife and mama, an education researcher, a writer, the founder and director of ISAASE, and an advisor with Johns Hopkins University School of Education's Doctor of Education program. Her work centers around multicultural education and equity, and South Asian American experiences in school. You can read more about Punita and her work here. Punita also writes about life, culture, education, and motherhood here on her blog. She works from home in Maryland, and drinks a great deal of coffee.