Stop! Hold still for a moment! Right now, just as you look at your phone or computer and read this text here. Feel how you are holding your body: Is your back bent, shoulders forward, head forward? This is the typical display pose. It not only causes painful tension – your posture has more influence on body and mind than you might think.
It is not difficult at all to improve your own posture. We’ll take you through it step by step. This is about these points:
- Reasons for poor posture
- Physical consequences of poor posture
- Hunchback: the organs suffer
- Posture influences your effect on others
- Influence of attitude on your psyche
- Test: Do you have a bad posture?
- The optimal posture
- 9 tips to improve your posture
What leads to bad posture?
Poor posture has now become a widespread disease, mainly because of the many office jobs. “Sitting, for example at a desk, is very stressful for the back,” says Olaf Stecker from the practice for physiotherapy in Hamburg. This is primarily because we stay in the same position for too long.
“Regular movement and changes of position are very important in order not to put unilateral strain on the back,” explains the physiotherapist. However, this is exactly what is often missing at the desk, whether on a chair or a gym ball. This one-sided load causes certain muscles to harden or shorten and you train yourself to adopt a bad posture in the long term. Stecker also observes the same thing with people who spend a lot of time looking at their smartphone.
The so-called mobile phone neck is becoming increasingly common, especially among the younger generation.
What other reasons are there for poor posture?
But it is not only the job that can cause back problems, also family and leisure time. “Many of our patients are young mothers who breastfeed their babies or carry them a lot,” says Stecker. Here too, the strain is permanently too one-sided, especially if the child is held more on one side than the other.
Even sports can cause back problems! “More and more often, athletes are coming to us. This is usually because they train too much and thus damage their joints,” warns Stecker.
The danger is particularly great when training with free weights, because ambitious people quickly exceed their own limits – or because beginners do the exercise incorrectly. As a result, the joints wear out and the muscles become tired. They can then no longer stabilize the back.
This helps immediately against neck pain
What are the physical consequences of bad posture?
“A round back or a hollow back puts too much strain on the spine on one side”, explains physiotherapist Birthe Friedrichsen-Döbber from the elphoehe therapy centre in Hamburg. As a result, the intervertebral discs suffer above all: instead of cushioning the individual vertebrae in their natural position, they are permanently pushed forward or backward by the incorrect posture.
“If the wrong loads are applied too strongly or for too long, this can even lead to a slipped disc, in which the ligaments can no longer hold the gel of the discs between the vertebrae and it slips out,” explains the physiotherapist. This is very painful and must be treated with physiotherapy or even surgery.
A good posture also results from trained mobility. © Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com
The muscles also suffer from the one-sided strain. “Typical of poor posture are shortened chest and abdominal muscles, hardened neck muscles and weak back muscles,” Friedrichsen-Döbber describes. This will cause you to fall into a hunched back, with your shoulders falling forward and your head bending towards the neck. This can also lead to permanent deformations like a hump or a vulture’s neck.
But the immediate consequences are also unpleasant: the hardened muscles lead, for example, to the typical pain in the neck and head after a long working day. They can also put pressure on the surrounding nerves. This manifests itself in a tingling or numbness feeling up to pressing pain, especially in the arms, fingers or legs.
Why is a round back bad for the organs?
Have you ever eaten sitting on the floor and had stomach aches afterwards? This is because you had to bend forward, which compresses the digestive organs. A round back has the same effect: the esophagus, stomach and intestines are compressed and cannot work properly. “A bad posture has a creeping effect on the internal organs, but this should not be underestimated,” explains Olaf Stecker. Your digestion slows down and you can get stomach cramps, stomach pressure or constipation.
The best back training for women
Your breathing is also affected. “Then the lungs can unfold more poorly due to the curved position, because the chest is less mobile in this position. Breathing becomes shallower,” explains Friedrichsen-Döbber. As a result, there is less oxygen in the blood, which makes you tired and unable to concentrate. On the other hand, if you can breathe slowly and deeply, your brain will supply you with sufficient oxygen.
In addition, by taking deep breaths, you send a signal to your body that it can relax, thereby reducing stress.
How does my posture affect others?
“We can usually tell whether patients are well or not by their posture,” says Friedrichsen-Döbber. But even untrained eyes can draw conclusions about your person from your posture. “This has a particularly strong influence in professional examination situations such as job interviews,” says the physiotherapist.
In such moments of self-representation you should therefore keep yourself as upright, open and relaxed as possible. This makes you appear more competent and likeable. On the other hand, an ingenuous attitude can seem listless, shy or distant.
Always remember: As you are perceived, you will be treated the same way, in your work and private life. So whether you want to get your dream job or meet new people, with a healthy attitude your chances increase considerably! A secondary, but also not to be despised plus point: A good posture is sexy! Your bust and bottom are accentuated, your stomach looks flatter and you are much more self-confident.
With an upright posture, you not only seem more confident, you also feel that way. © Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com 8 things that make us instantly more sympathetic
Can my posture influence my psyche?
But with a healthy posture you do not only seem more sympathetic to other people. You also feel more satisfied and self-confident when you have more body tension. Various studies show that posture can influence our memory and perception.
For example, the psychologist Johannes Michalak found out in an experiment that people with an upright posture perceive themselves and their environment more positively and remember pleasant things rather than unpleasant ones. A study from Ohio and Madrid showed that a self-confident posture can also strengthen people’s self-confidence.
This means you get a more positive attitude towards life with a healthy attitude. So if you have a bad day or are dissatisfied with yourself: Cheer up, in the truest sense of the word! This way you won’t let the stress of everyday life get you down so easily.
Test: Do you have a bad posture?
You don’t know if you have a healthy or unhealthy posture? “In order to judge that, you ultimately need an outside view,” says Stecker. But you can also improvise that.
Don’t sit still for long: Stretching is good for the body. © Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com
Grab a girlfriend and let her take pictures of you, from the front, the back and the side, sitting and standing. The best way to do this is to do it sitting at your workplace. Wear tight or short clothes so that your posture is clearly visible. Don’t stand uptight, just as you always do. And now you analyse together and pay attention to the following areas:
- Head: Is he straight forward, chin slightly stretched forward? Is it in line with the neck, or is the cervical spine making a kink?
- Shoulders: Are they low or high? Are they further back or do they fall forward?
- Upper back: Do the back and neck form as straight a line as possible? Does the upper spine press out behind the neck in an arc?
- Lower back: Does the spine describe a slight S seen from the side without the hip tilting forward?
- Symmetry: From behind your body should be as symmetrical as possible. If one shoulder or one side of your hip is lower than the other or if your spine makes a slight S from this perspective, you should see a doctor to avoid serious bad posture or scoliosis!
- Arms and legs: When you sit, your elbows, hips and knees should form an angle of 90 degrees each, with your back and neck as vertical as possible.
Ideally your back is symmetrical from behind, the hips are straight, the spine describes a slight (!) S, the upper back forms a straight line with the neck and head and the shoulders are pushed backwards and deep.
5 tips for more self-confidence
How is my posture optimal?
“There is not one pattern that applies to all people,” says Stecker. So check in front of the mirror to see what change looks like and how it feels. Straighten up according to your own feelings, without cramping yourself. Do this again and again during the day and check yourself regularly.
When sitting, make sure that the chair and table are high and far enough apart so that your back is straight and your arms and legs form a relaxed 90-degree angle. Especially when sitting for long periods of time, you should also make sure to change your position regularly.
You want a quick mood boost? Then try the Wonder Woman Pose Straighten your back, place your feet shoulderwide side by side and stretch your head up. Put your hands on your hips, breathe deeply and smile. This position reduces stress and improves mood and confidence.
How can you improve your posture?
“The most important things are the everyday little things,” explains Stecker. He and physiotherapist Friedrichsen-Döbber recommend the following exercises, which you should do several times a day
- Change your sitting position regularly or stand up from time to time. Flicking on the seat for a few minutes every now and then is also desired!
- Try to sit upright once an hour for 5 minutes deliberately. Gradually increase this time.
- Turn and tilt your head as far as possible to the left, right, front and back. Stretch the neck muscles.
- While sitting, raise your arms above your head and then turn your upper body as far as possible to the left and right.
Stretch your chest and abdominal muscles.
- Stretch your thighs by placing one leg straight on a table or windowsill and leaning towards your foot.
- Circle your shoulders back and forth. Then you first pull them up and then push them down. Finally you pull the shoulder blades for a few seconds as far as possible towards the spine.
- Stand against a wall so that your shoulder blades touch it. Turn your palms forward and then press your forearms against the wall for a few seconds.
- Bring movement into your everyday life: go for a walk, ride a bike or do another moderate sport that mobilizes the back.
- Train all muscles that stretch the back and stabilize the head and shoulder blades, especially the abdominal muscles, especially the lateral ones.
With these exercises you can easily prevent most back problems and strengthen body and mind. Finally, one important point: Now that you have read all this on the monitor or display, you should treat yourself to a screen-free day. It does the neck good!
To train a healthy posture you need a little discipline, but it’s worth it! You will strengthen your self-confidence, your body will work perfectly and it will be sexy too!