Good Posture: Why Is It Important for Women?
Ballerinas are beautiful to watch as we gaze at their elegant posture, as they dance their dance of grace and fairy tales. Good posture elongates the spine, enables us to breathe easier and take in more oxygen and enhances our appearance. Whether standing or sitting, good posture distributes the force of gravity throughout the body in order that no one part of the body is overstressed.
When I was a young girl, I was a tomboy. My body was boy-like and I was tall and slender (as I still am). My mom enrolled me in dance classes and tumbling and gymnastics. They must have sent a subliminal message to my brain in regard to my posture, because I've always been very aware of my body placement. I wasn't the most graceful little ballerina, but I did enjoy the magic of pink slippers and Dance of the Sugarplums.
Good Posture While Standing
What Is Good Posture?
How does it look? While standing straight, imagine an invisible puppet string holding you in place. Feet are flat, the back is straight and the head is properly aligned over the body, not pushed forward. The spine should have a slight S curve. Check your posture right now. How does it feel? Is your body tight, tensed? Relax. Where are your shoulders? They should be held back with your chest forward, a natural feel, not exaggerated. How does your abdomen feel? Pull it in and you automatically straighten your torso. The key to good posture is body awareness and a strong core, your mid section.
It's really rather pleasurable to become more aware throughout the day of your body's alignment because it instantly feels better if you catch yourself slouching and 'fix' yourself. Good posture does not feel rigid or tense, it feels good. If you're tight, simply relax that area. It's all about body/mind awareness, being in tune with our whole self and not just our thoughts. I find myself 'fixing' myself without conscious effort now, but it takes time to train yourself, and ideally the best time to learn it is as a young child. Even as an adult you can make a game of it, perhaps call it, how is my posture NOW?
Upper Cross Mirror
The neck has a lot of work to do. We abuse our poor necks probably more than any other body part. Try to keep the head over your shoulders, not pushed forward (as in above diagram) or bent to the side. Having been in the classroom for 14 years working with young children, my neck has been overly stressed. There are so many times when a teacher must look down. I found myself squatting down to be on their level helped, but that also requires being aware of proper body alignment. It helps to do gentle neck rotations periodically throughout the day or simple neck exercises as seen in the video.
How to Sit at a Desk
Good Posture While Sitting
When we're sitting, we focus on what's in front of us. If we push our neck forward, our body follows and we're no longer balanced. It increases muscle fatigue and stretches the spinal ligaments, which can lead to back and neck pain.
Sitting at a desk is another area where ergonomics is important to know. As much as possible, have the reading material held away from you, preferably at eye level if possible. If writing or working on a keyboard, try to keep the head over the upper body even if you have to lean forward for a small period of time. Always keep your back straight even if leaning forward. A great investment if you do a lot of sitting at a desk is an ergonomic chair. If not currently in the budget, place a small pillow or rolled-up towel at the small of your back. It helps a lot.
Strengthening Abs Helps Pregnant Women
Good Posture Affects Pregnancy and Birth
When I first became pregnant, I bought the classic book about natural childbirth, Little did I know how much it would change my life. I followed it like it was my lifeline. It contains a section about exercises which can be done during the pregnancy and specific exercises to prepare the body for labor. I did them. And guess what? They helped so much that even the doctor said he had never witnessed a more peaceful labor and birth. (Well, I did feel some pain, but I guess my body was fit and ready.) We had peaceful music playing also which helped me remain relatively calm. Childbirth Without Fear.
The woman's body shape will affect both pregnancy, labor and birth. "The position of the baby is influenced by the shape of the woman's abdomen, back and pelvis and the postural tensions in these areas." (Families SouthWest) The fitter the woman is and the stronger her core muscles are will influence and often determine the ease or difficulties of pregnancy, labor and birth. Strengthening abs during pregnancy helps to tone the woman's body to keep it strong during the entire pregnancy enabling an easier labor and delivery. It requires strong muscles to push the baby through the birth canal.
Improving Posture Awareness
Benefits of Good Posture
So, our mothers and grandmothers knew what they were talking about when they told us to sit up and stand tall, pull your shoulders back. If you're a mother, maybe you have said the same thing. We need to keep saying it and help our children (and ourselves) understand why it's important. There are wonderful, healthful benefits to maintaining good posture, not only for our body, but for our whole self.
- improves overall appearance
- confidence booster
- aids in digestion
- helps to prevent back and neck pain
- helps with less problematic pregnancies, labor and quicker postpartum recovery
- strengthens, energizes and revitalizes the body
- helps to prevent sciatica
- helps to prevent postural kyphosis (often found in children and adolescents)
- feels good to have body in balance
Posture Yourself For Success
Good posture is something we can all be more aware of throughout our lives and there are many great fitness/exercise programs that help with our posture. Yoga and Pilates are both fantastic ways to help with body/mind awareness and posture. Walking and stretching give opportunities to be in tune with our bodies and perfect our posture. Pull those shoulders back, put your head up and walk tall. Posture yourself for success!