What does good health mean to you? Is it getting up early in the morning to start your day off with a run or a trip to the gym, even though what you want more than anything else in the world is to hit the snooze button and grab another half hour in bed? Is it taking the time to cook more nutritious meals made with delicious and nutritious veggies which aren’t only rich in nutrients, but also contain the essential phytochemicals which keep illness at bay? Is it eschewing the everyday temptations that come our way on a daily basis from the box of doughnuts our work colleagues bring in on Friday to the pizza we’d much rather order than spend our Saturday night cooking? Is it taking active steps to ensure that we’re in good mental health, ensuring that we employ Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques to deconstruct unhelpful and potentially dangerous thoughts before they can do us harm? These are all absolutely important, nay essential to our health. Our health is a rich tapestry, and sometimes merely keeping on top of it can often feel like a full time job.
There’s one aspect; however, that many of us tend to overlook – an aspect that can have a huge impact both on our appearance and on our overall health or, an aspect that can exacerbate illness and even increase our risk of serious diseases… Yet even the most nutrition-conscious gym junkie doesn’t give it quite the attention it deserves. We’re talking of course about posture. Here we’ll look at why your posture is such an integral part of your overall health and what you can do to improve it.
Surely posture isn’t that important?
Even if you’re seriously dedicated to your health and fitness goals, poor posture can make them harder to achieve or even derail your efforts. For starters, your posture plays a huge part in how you’re perceived by others. It determines how your clothes sit on you and can distort the shape of your body no matter what you’re wearing. It can make you look shorter and less attractive and distribute your weight unevenly to make you look portlier than you actually are. It can also push your head too far forward giving you the appearance of a double chin even though you don’t actually have one. These cosmetic issues are really just the tip of the iceberg.
Poor posture puts a lot of strain on your vital organs which can obviously have far reaching effects. It can impede your ability to digest the food you eat properly, leading to possible malnutrition or weight gain. In extreme circumstances it can even lead to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and loose stools are a common side effect.
Aside from the ever present risk of neck and back pain, poor posture can also increase your risks of more serious conditions like heart disease by up to 64%. But while poor posture can be ruinous to your health, you don’t need to change your life to correct it. It’s simply a matter of jettisoning some bad habits and picking up some better ones.
So much sitting
A big part of the problem is the way in which so many of us spend our working days. Those of us in office jobs spend 8-12 hours a day sitting with only brief intermissions. Usually, we’re also craning our head forward to look at a computer monitor or laptop screen. In all likelihood we got to work by sitting in a car or on a bus and it’s entirely likely that we’ll spend some time sitting when we get home, too. Not only can all this sitting exacerbate spinal health issues, it can slow down your metabolism making it harder to burn body fat and even increase your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Ask your boss if there’s any chance you could move to a standing desk or simply get up to take a short walk to the water cooler roughly once every half hour (plus you’re hydrating in the process). Sitting is not a configuration that our bodies have evolved to spend a lot of time in and the more time we spend doing it, the more we endanger our health.
Why you need a chiropractor
Most people think that they only need to see chiropractors when they’re injured or suffering from back pain. But the truth is that regular visits to a chiropractor should be just another part of your ongoing self care regimen. Modern living, as we’ve just reiterated, is tough on your spine, especially if you spend your days slumped in a chair. A chiropractor can ensure that your spine is properly aligned and prevent mobility issues, pain and disease risk before they happen.
Whatever your goals, you should be strength training
If you want to shift that stubborn body fat around your midriff so that you look flawless in those tight fitting dresses, you might think that intensive cardio is the way to go. If this is the case, you may well spend hour after hour slaving away on a cross trainer or treadmill reducing yourself to a red faced and sweaty wreck, yet still not see the results you so desperately crave.
But cardio is just part of the picture when it comes to health and fitness. Whatever your goals at the gym, you should be strength training for the good of your posture and spinal health… But also to make life easier for yourself. Regular strength training will strengthen the muscles in your core, back, hips and other areas upon which your posture is reliant. It will reduce the pressure on your spine and facilitate proper alignment. Moreover, it will make your metabolism more efficient, ensuring that your body burns more calories throughout the day.
Digging in your heels
Finally, if you spend a great deal of your day in high heels this can also cause posture problems which can lead to a deterioration in spinal health. They push your chest and lower back forward, causing a misalignment of the spine which could prove damaging as well as increasing the pressure on your knees and the balls of your feet.
If you want a healthy spine and a pain free life, break out the flats every once in a while! What do you do to maintain your health? Do you take breaks to get up and walk? I was a ballerina for years and fortunately have great posture – BUT I wore heels all day every day and man oh man did that do a number on my spine! Chiropractors really can be sensational!