There’s something about good posture that makes a person look more confident, respectable, and authoritative. But while striving to improve your posture is a good idea, there are a lot of harmful myths out there that could damage not only your efforts to improve, but your posture itself. In this blog, we’re going to debunk 5 of the most common myths about posture.
Sit up Straight
We’ve been told our whole lives to sit up straight, or we run the risk of ruining our spine for the rest of our lives. While sitting up straight isn’t a bad idea, posture is less about how we look and more about how we feel. Everyone’s body is different, so a one size fits all pose probably isn’t going to help you.
When it comes to how you sit, the most important thing is to remain comfortable. That doesn’t mean you can substitute sitting at your desk for sprawling out on your bed all day, but you shouldn’t feel as though you’re confined to a single, rigid position. You should try to avoid hunching your shoulders, or slouching, but ultimately the most important thing is that you are comfortable.
Bad Posture Leads to Pain
Although it certainly won’t help, bad posture gets the blame for a lot more pain than it really causes. In fact, more often than not, bad posture is a result of pain elsewhere in the body. Think about how tense and hunched your shoulders get on a freezing cold day. A lot of this tension will manifest itself in your back, and while that may be where the pain is, it’s not where the problem is.
The same can be said for a lot of other body parts. Pain in your feet will affect the way you walk and stand, which will affect your posture, and could lead to back pain. Pain in your hips could cause you to spend a lot of time leaning over to one side, which will lead to back pain. The only way to really tackle back pain is to look not where the pain is, but where it is coming from.
Make a Conscious Effort
When it comes to self-improvement, there are very few things we can try that don’t require a conscious effort. While making a conscious effort to improve is admirable, it unfortunately won’t help you with your posture.
The problem with trying to consciously improve your posture is that it frankly just doesn’t work. No matter how much of an effort you make, you will forget to hold your pose as soon as you return to another task. So unless you plan to devote all your brain power to focusing on your posture, it simply won’t work.
Posture is not the sort of thing that we can develop or alter in a day. Like so much of our physical health, good or bad posture is something that develops gradually over time. For this reason, many people feel as though forcing their body to stay in the position that they see as the “ideal posture” will, over time, improve theirs. In reality, the reverse is true.
A lot of the pain and problems we associate with bad posture, such as stiffness, occur because we are not moving around enough. Any body part that stays still too long will become increasingly rigid, and the back is no different. What you should be doing is moving around more. Whether that’s switching seats every so often or going for a short walk, your back needs to move, just like the rest of you.
But My Workspace!
Yes, we’d all like to swap out the office chairs for ones that are more comfortable, and yes, it’s annoying that your screen is lower than the way you like it. But blaming your workspace for your bad posture is a pointless endeavour. At the end of the day, you’re the one with the sore back.
While there are a lot of things about your desk that you can’t change, there are a few things you can do to improve it. For starters, your screen should be at the same level as your eyes, or else you’ll spend most of the day hunched over. Even a small, barely noticeable hunch can have painful effects on your back, so don’t underestimate the power your screen has. It’s also important to try and plant your feet firmly on the ground, directly below your knees, which should be bent at a 90 degree angle.
These myths are commonly spread by well-meaning individuals, and although they may not all be completely baseless, most of them are creative reimaginings of the facts. The take home message is that ultimately, your posture should be comfortable, not effortful. If you’ve tried adjusting your posture and are still experiencing pain, you may want to consider seeing a physiotherapist.