It’s important to pay attention and adjust your posture regularly because posture is a matter of habit – having bad habits lead to bad health and image problems, having good habits lead to great health and good first impressions. For example, people with hunched shoulders are perceived as lazy, passive and indecisive compared to people who hold themselves straight with open shoulders and hands on hips.
While posture by itself is not as expressive as face expressions or hand gestures, it still can increase or contradict the intensity of these expressions. If you lean forward, for example, you amplify the message that you do listen closely and interested in what’s being said. Leaning back leaves the opposite impression naturally.
OK then, let’s start with something that is as important for your health as for your communication – a straight posture.
Keeping Straight Posture
When I was a kid, I used to sit on the floor leaning forward in front of the TV. My mother was always coming and straightening my back, warning me that “if you keep sitting that way – you will become Quasimodo”.
Of course my mother exaggerated a little, but only because she cared for me to have a straight posture, and the trick worked. Although, admittedly, it was quite frustrating to get used to that at first.
Benefits of Proper Posture
First of all, having a straight and relaxed posture has many health benefits which are beyond the scope of this article. I always imagine that if I sit or stand in a natural relaxed position then the blood flows freely through my body and therefore it operates in optimal condition.
Because body language affects the way we feel, standing or sitting in straight posture is a great way to raise your mood and give you more energy because you imitate a confident and alert stance. When interacting with others you give the impression of an active and confident person, one who knows how to hold his body.
Poor posture, on the other hand, reflects poor self image and negative feelings, it can be temporary state when we feel down, or it can the result of bad habits accumulated over years.
It’s best to avoid the hunched back and slumped shoulders posture unless you want to be perceived as poor, lazy or sad. When I walk the street I often get to see elderly people who carry themselves with such poor posture that it seems as if they carry all their problems on their back.
I want to clarify that I’m not here to judge elderly people due to their posture. I know that many of them suffer from health conditions that won’t allow them to stand straight, and obviously we cannot prevent the deterioration of our body completely. Still, we can take steps to slow it down and look healthy and dynamic even in later stages of life. As I find in the example of ‘old’ people, who can match and overcome my own fitness and health levels, only because they care about their body.
What is the Correct Posture?
So what is the correct posture? Easy: Head held high in neutral position with the ears in line with the shoulder line.
The shoulders are resting down
Open your chest and breath deep into your abdomen. Your chest should be open, but not puffed up.
Imagine as if you’re a marionette and there’s a string pulling your chest up from the center.
It’s best to have both of your feet firmly on the ground, distributing the weight evenly between both heels.
- It’s important not to overextend the curve of your back or to tense it so you can barely move. You’re not a wooden log.
- You should have a very slight tension in your abdomen and buttocks muscles to keep your composure.
But it’s hard staying that way all the time!
Our posture is a matter of habit, and it takes time to change it, but with enough dedication you will ultimately succeed, and it’s totally worth the effort. When you catch yourself slumping and feeling down, adopt a straight posture and see that after a few moments you might start to feel a lot better. It’s all about dedication and awareness, there are no shortcuts here.
I understand that when you work a lot in front of the computer you naturally tend to hunch (believe me, I do..) but a good way to release that tension is taking a little break of walking around and circling your shoulders in smooth slow motions. Take a break, you don’t need to carry the world on your shoulders.
So, if you’re known as a hunchback, it’s time to give up that posture Quasimodo… (:
You owe it to yourself – to be more healthy and project a stronger and energetic image.