"Don't slouch!", "Sit up!", "Stand up straight!" Do these commands sound familiar to you? Most of us received this instruction daily from our parents, grandparents, teachers, etc. Although at the time these instructions may have annoyed us, the instructors meant well. Good posture is important for overall good health and is especially critical for preventing neck, shoulder, and back issues.

What is Good Posture?

We were warned on what to do or what not to do to have good posture, but what exactly is good posture? The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) defines good posture as "the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity"[1]. Good posture is achieved by standing, walking, sitting, and lying in positions that strain your supporting muscles and ligaments the least.

Benefits of Good Posture

Bad posture puts extra stress or strain on your body, with the resulting effects being the chronic back neck, and shoulder pain. Herniated or slipped discs in the neck and/or back are commonplace. This is a condition in which the soft tissue cushions that are located between the vertebrae of the spine or neck becomes damaged, ruptured or bulges. Twenty-five percent of the people who suffer from chronic back pain have a herniated disc that may be the result of poor posture[2].

Besides the back, neck, and shoulder issues that we were warned would occur from a lack of good posture, there are other lesser known issues that may result from poor posture. When our stance is slouched or slumped, it causes our spine to take the same slumped position. This can equate to bad circulation and may also cause the vertebrae to deteriorate over the years. Chronic fatigue keeps many from living an optimal life. Poor posture makes your muscles and joints work harder, possibly resulting in exhaustion[2].

Tips for Good Posture

Activebeat offers the following advice for good posture:

  • When sitting for long periods of time, stand up and move around periodically
  • Exercise regularly to help strengthen your core muscles
  • Have an ergonomic assessment done in your workplace
  • Use a chair pillow for additional back support
  • Choose bed pillows based on your style of sleep(stomach, back, or side)

The complete list of tips can be found at [3].

Exercise Accessories that Help Improve Posture

If your posture is not as good as it could be, don't despair there are some accessories that can help improve this problem. Here is a couple that we found.

Posture bricks are one such accessory. These foam blocks will help you achieve the goal of optimal posture and correct alignment. You incorporate them with Pilates, yoga, and stretching exercises to achieve better spinal alignment. They come in three different sizes to accommodate users of varying heights and to enable their use in various exercises.

Balance and postural alignment are interrelated. An aid that is useful for improving balance and therefore posture, is a balance pad. Made of a specialty foam that compresses under the user's body weight, the pad works by forcing the foot, ankle, and lower leg muscles to work to keep the body straight.

Don't slouch, sit up, stand up straight! Good posture and your health depend on it.

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