How Can Good Posture Help Your Physical and Mental Wellbeing?
When you think of improving your physical and mental wellbeing, do you immediately think of doing so by assessing your posture? No? To be honest, there are probably very few people who do. Hopefully after reading this article, we can start to change the way you think and feel about posture and its importance in your mental and physical health.
We all know that we should eat our 5 a day, don’t drink too much, exercise regularly; we’re constantly told we shouldn’t have too much of this or excessive amounts of that. The effects of bad posture, on the other hand, are relatively unknown. Here at HSL we are making it our mission to help educate you about how important it is to develop and maintain good posture.
Firstly, to clarify, posture is defined as the position in which we hold our body when standing, sitting and sleeping. It is generally termed ‘good posture’ or ‘bad posture’.
Our independent Occupational Therapist, Julie Jennings Dip COT HCPC, has clarified the difference for us:
“Good posture is standing with the head balanced effortlessly above the spine. The spine will be straight and vertical except for the slight natural curves in the lower back and neck (it has a slight S-shape). Such a posture is widely recognised as being associated with good appearance, good health, strength, athleticism, and stamina.
By contrast the term bad posture is most commonly used to describe the human position in which the head and shoulders are placed forward of the spine with the spine curved into an excessive S-shape, or a C-shape. It is widely referred to as a slouched or a hunchback posture. Bad posture is commonly associated with a poor appearance, backaches of all types, poor health, poor breathing, tiredness, and easy fatigability.”
Impacts of Bad Posture
Having bad posture places the weight of the head and shoulders forward and downwards, causing:
- – Strain on the spine – contributing to neck pain and backaches
- – Compressing the chest – contributing to chest pains
- – Increasing pressure on lungs and respiratory muscles – contributing to breathlessness
- – Compressing the air in the chest – contributing to postural hypotension, faintness, tiredness and physical fatigue
- – Compressing the stomach – causing stomach pains and digestive difficulties.
Impacts of Good Posture
To look at this from the ‘glass half full’ side, if you start now to develop and improve habits leading to good posture, then the effects stated above can be slowed, and in some cases completely halted.
With good posture, you can expect to counteract the physical complications associated with bad posture. Thus, improving your physical health and wellbeing. When your body feels stronger and fitter, your mental health soon follows. In an article stressing the importance of linking physical and mental health, The Mental Health Foundation said:
“A clear distinction is often made between ‘mind’ and ‘body’. But when considering mental health and physical health, the two should not be thought of as separate.”
From this, and countless other studies, we can see that through having and maintaining good posture, both your physical and mental wellbeing can be positively impacted.
Check Your Posture
Here’s a quick test to check your posture:
- Stand with the back of your head against a wall
- Place your heels 6 inches from the wall with your buttocks and shoulders touching the wall
- There should be less than 2 inches between your neck and small of your back and the wall
- A larger gap indicates poor posture and a curving spine
If you would like some handy tips to start improving your posture, please read our article ‘Perfecting your Posture’.
All of our sofas, chairs and beds at HSL are designed with CleverComfort™ and with the purpose of improving your posture.