Benefits of a "Good Posture"
There are many benefits to stretching. In fact, it is natural to stretch our bodies, as even creatures in nature do. We may think of stretching as something that only yogis or athletes do, but it is important for all of us. Our realities, for the most part, have become highly sedentary (sometimes not by choice, but this is commonplace among the workforce). Many migrate to the couch after dinner, remaining sedentary for most of the day and evening. This is especially true these days, as many have had to stay home (and some may still be), which could have an impact on our exercise/stretching habits. Stretching improves your flexibility, lung capacity, circulation, digestion, while reducing back, neck, and shoulder pain and headaches (Click here to read more in depth about the benefits of stretching on our blog). On the contrary, poor posture and sitting habits can lead to less-than-optimal consequences: our neck and back muscles will actually shorten over time, as they assume their curved position from being hunched over on our desk. Bad posture can also cause issues regarding hormone production, blood circulation, and an increase in cortisol levels (cortisol is the hormone we release when under stress).
Is there a Link between Posture & Mood?
Science and numerous studies show that besides the physical benefits of good posture, there is a correlation between good posture and our mood, motivation, and overall mental health. Open, or “high power” positions, release endorphins and can boost our confidence. On the other hand, slouched, curved, or hunched down positions can make one feel less confident, happy and energetic. These should come as good reminders to always keep our head and chin up!
By now, we have looked at several good reasons to inspire us to stretch habitually, especially if we are at our desks all day. Let us dive in and explore 10 different stretches you can do throughout the day to stay in tip-top alignment and health.
- Benefits: This posture lengthens the spine and allows you to slowly increase your shoulder’s range of motion. A classic and favorite in the discipline of yoga, this posture can also become very relaxing and perfect for releasing stress at the end of the day.
- How to: Start by sitting on your knees. Then, slowly bend your body until your head touches the ground, if possible. The front of your head can stay on the floor, or you can tilt your head to one side. Your arms can rest by your sides, or you can explore your shoulders’ range of motion by slowly moving them forward, by your head. Once you feel comfortable, you can rest in this position. When you come out of it, make sure to do it slowly.
- Benefits: Releases tension in the neck, shoulders, hamstrings, and is also a hip-opener.
- How to: Stand straight with your arms by your side. Slowly begin bending forward, from your hips – not your back—until you can no longer go forward comfortably. Keep a small bend in the legs to protect your knees. You can rest in this position, but make sure you are breathing deeply. Over time, each exhalation can help you reach a little lower.
Thoracic Spine Rotation (Supine Twist):
- Benefits: Improves thoracic spine mobility.
- How to: Lay with your back flat on the floor. Hug your legs in toward your chest –you can rest here if this feels good. Then, gently take one arm to help you move your legs over to one side. Go as low as is comfortable. You can tilt your head over to the opposite side for a deeper stretch. Rest in this posture for some time, then switch your legs and head to the other side.
- Benefits: Lengthens tight muscles and can help reduce back pain over time.
- How to: Sit up straight with your legs extended flat on the floor. Take a couple of deep breaths here. Begin to bend forward slowly, from your hips, not your back. Go as low as is safe. It does not matter if your head does not reach your legs; it is more important to keep good posture and bend from your back. You can rest here or go a little deeper with each exhalation.
- Benefits: Lengthens the muscles between the ribs and pelvis, including the rib cage and low back.
- How to: Start by sitting flat on the floor, cross-legged, or on a chair. Stretch out one arm, take it over your head, and bend your body to one side. Make sure you are bending from your waist. Go as deep as you can, and then take a few breaths here. Slowly exhale your way back to center and repeat on the opposite side.
Seated Trunk Rotation:
- Benefits: Helps with balance, stability, and trunk mobility.
- How to: Start by sitting flat on the floor, cross-legged, or on a chair. Slowly begin twisting your body/torso and arms to one side, while leaving your hips straight. As you exhale, you can twist further. Take a few breaths and then repeat on the opposite side.
- Benefits: This opener will wake up your hips and help your flexibility.
- How to: Stand straight and place your hands on your hips. Make circles with your hips to one side, and then rotate the other way. The bigger the circle, the more you will open your hips. Plus, it is kind of fun!
- Benefits: Increases mobility and strengthens the back, thus reducing the risk of back injuries.
- How to: Lay with your back flat on the floor. Extend your arms overhead, and take deep breaths in this posture. Feel your entire body stretch and relax.
- Benefits: Improves the flexibility of the large, quad muscles.
- How to: You can stand for this position. Hold onto a wall or a chair for help with your balance. While standing, grab a hold of your ankle and gently bend your leg back from your knee. The deeper you bend the more you will feel this in your quads, just make sure to start slowly! Switch to the opposite leg.
- Benefits: Strengthens back, glutes, legs, and ankles. Opens chest, heart, and hip flexors.
- How to: Lay flat on the floor with your arms by your side. Lift your hips up off the floor using your buttocks and core, as you push your heels into the floor. Breathe and stay in this position for a minute or so.
Stretching & Chiropractic Care
Maintaining a habitual stretching routine is key for those long, computer days. Also remember to incorporate regular exercise, such as: walking for 30 minutes to an hour, jogging, or whichever workouts you like to engage in. Practicing these movement habits, along with regular chiropractic care, will keep your body aligned, healthy, and at lower risk of injuries.
We are open and ready for you! If you'd like to begin a healthier lifestyle and not sure where to begin, we are happy to work on a personalized plan with you. Give us a call at (828) 277-0903 and make your appointment today!
We hope you all stay happy, healthy, and aligned!