Want to feel more confident and energetic? Stand up straight and strut your stuff because there’s a connection between posture and mood.
As a dentist, the tendency to get back and neck pain is part and parcel of the profession. Therefore it is of paramount importance that dentists look after their posture more than any other professional.
According to Vivian Eisenstadt an orthopedic and sports physical therapist, postural specialist, and spiritual psychologist, our physical, mental and emotional states interact and affect each other on a moment-to-moment basis.
“Poor posture carries an energy with it,” she said. “Depression, fatigue, and insecurity are just some of the feelings that are associated with shoulders forward and forward head posture.”
Eisenstadt said expressions like “keep your chin up” and “hold your head high” exist for a reason. “Standing straight exudes a sense of pride, confidence, and promotes happiness. By standing straight, you actually feel better. Try it right now. I’ll bet you feel sexier.”
“Strut your stuff” carries an energy with it, she said. “There is a higher self-esteem that good posture gives you. When my patients stand straight and I help them correct their posture, I see the smile spread across their mouths. They fall more in love with themselves in a healthy way.”
Further, Eisenstadt said it displays a sense of self-care that others subconsciously read off of you. You’ll get more respect from others when you have good posture. “So, stand up straight, sit straight, and feel better in all ways possible.”
Quick Tips for Posture Awareness
Posture expert Dr. Steve Weiniger of Body Zone says posture breakdown spirals when people habitually move with their body folded (i.e. sitting, texting, computing) in a poor posture environment. Although there is no perfect posture position, there are easy ways to adjust your posture environment. “The key is to keep moving,” said Weiniger. Some of his quick tips for posture awareness include:
- Drive taller: Adjust the rearview mirror in your car so you have to sit tall to see.
- Walk taller: Imagine a string lifting your chest and the top of your head toward the sky.
- Make adjustments: Change the angle of your computer monitor or try putting a book under it. For part of the day, consider sitting on a ball or a pelvic support. Move your car seat on long trips.
- Get moving: Take a posture break or do posture exercises throughout the day. A one-minute break every 30 minutes can make a big difference.
- Take a picture: Take a picture of your posture now, then again in two or three months, and look for differences between the two photos.
Posture problems? Maybe you text too much…
Dennis Enix is a doctor of chiropractic and associate professor of research at Logan University in St. Louis. He explained that one of the biggest posture sins is the effect texting has on the neck and spine. “A study in the journal Surgical Technology International says the average adult head weighs between 10 to 20 pounds, however the force of the head titled down at a 60 degree angle puts 60 pounds of weight on the neck and shoulders.”
The long term effect? Possible herniated discs in the cervical spine. “If you can, avoid putting that strain on your neck,” said Enix. “Additionally, practicing sitting up straight and keeping your shoulders back several times a day can help strengthen those muscles.”
How To Practice Good Sitting Posture
Eisenstadt shared this technique to improve your sitting posture:
- Begin with a hand towel rolled up (if possible taped so it stays in tootsie roll shape). Sit on a stable surface (preferably a firm surface compared to a soft couch).
- Find the angle in which your “butt bones” (ischial tuberosities) are closest to the sitting surface. You can figure out how to feel the two bones at the lowest part of your tush and their angle by tilting your pelvis forward and backwards slightly while feeling more and less pressure on those bones. Make sure that you are sitting directly on top of them and not slightly in front or behind them.
- Once you find this optimal angle for your pelvis, lean forward slightly keeping your back straight and place the towel roll under the fat of your tush that is BEHIND the bones, not directly under the bones themselves. Sit back up and find that optimal angle again.
- Slightly contract your lower abdominals “like you have to go to the bathroombut don’t want to.” This will secure your lower “lumbar angle” and re-enforce pelvic stability.
- Once this is completed, make an effort to relax your upper body, especially shoulders and neck. Check that you are creating your lumbar arch from the lowest levels of your spine. The top of your low back “rainbow” is at the same level as your upper abdominal or “t-point” is, so make sure your upper abdominals are contracted slightly as well. Make sure your mid-back is not overly arched (creating a look like your upper body is in front of your lower body). Lastly pull your shoulder blades together a bit, sliding them back and down using your armpit muscles (serratus), not your pecs, and relax your neck.
Quick tip for lounging on the sofa: Prop a few pillows behind you so you are sitting up with a comfortable backing. If you feel you need to slouch, Eisenstadt suggests you lie on your side instead of sitting poorly.
How to Practice Good Standing Posture
Eisenstadt also shared this technique to improve your standing posture:
- Starting from your toes, make sure your first and second toes are in alignment with your heels. If you have a flat arch, roll to the outside of your feet with your ankles while keeping the balls of your feet on the ground so you recreate a slight arch on the inside of your feet.
- Keeping your knees straight, squeeze your butt lightly. Hold in your lower abs lightly like you have to pee but you don’t want to.
- Slide your shoulders back and down without having to arch your mid-back to bring your shoulders back.
- Tuck your chin so that your head is on top of your shoulders and not in front of them.