Five examples of bad posture: How they can affect your overall health?

You may not know it, but bad posture can affect more than just your appearance while sitting down or standing up.  The spine can dictate so much of your mental and physical well-being, and if it’s out of alignment enough, it can lead to much bigger problems than just discomfort or laziness.  That added stress is a chain reaction, going from your joints, to the ligaments and tendons, and the muscles and nerves all along that region that is causing your problems. 

Top five bad posture habits

bad-posture-overall-health
  1. HUNCHBACK with the shoulders pointed forward.
  2. Curved-in lower back, also known as LORDOSIS.
  3. I lean on one side of the back due to carrying UNBALANCED BACK.
  4. Raising or lowering the head too much, often caused by LOOKING DOWN at phones and screens!
  5. TILTING THE HEAD to the side for long periods, holding the phone between head and neck. 

So, these forms of bad posture all seem very familiar, you probably know a person for each one of these, or even multiple forms.  The exception to this is usually if that person is an athlete or someone who is a gym-a-holic.  The reason being is that any form of bad posture will inhibit your range of strength and motion.  Bad posture just places unnecessary stress on the body, especially joints that are already vulnerable to wear and tear.  Things could get even more serious, where you start developing arthritis symptoms well before you reach your later years where it is common.

Examples of proper posture

When you’re sitting down, there are a few bad habits that can cause your posture to degrade and get all out of whack.  It is important that both of your feet are flat on the floor, pointed straight down. Your back should be as straight as possible.  The pelvis should also be pointed forward, this insures your hips are within alignment.  If you’re at a computer desk, your monitor should be within eye-level and your wrists and elbows should be parallel.

Exercises to help posture

Correcting bad posture can be difficult to achieve just from sitting a different way or throwing out old habits.  You should really target those muscles that have been neglected and strengthen them to make the transition to proper posture smoother.  The two best exercises that can restore your flexibility and strength are Yoga and Pilates.  These low-impact exercises are perfect for re-aligning the spine in a safe and effective way.

Yoga poses are superb for targeting lower-back pain and neck-related posture issues, while Pilates is the ultimate exercise for strengthening your lower-back, hips, and upper-body.  Weak core muscles contribute to the majority of bad posture ailments.  Pilates targets all muscles and gives much better support to the joints and, most importantly, the spine.

Good posture is not only good for physical health but also your emotional health.  Good posture makes you look good and feel good about yourself.  Some say that good posture will even improve your chemical balance, as the spine is allowed to transmit and receive signals to the brain much more accurately.

Check your posture right now - I bet your body isn't aligned in the best possible way?

Let us know which of the above bad postures you can relate to most. 

Why we love breathing (and you should too)!

Breathing is a simple process. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out … again and again. And in the time that it has taken you to read next two sentences, you’ve probably taken a breath or two … without even realising it.

why-we-love-breathing.jpg

Breathing is kind of automatic. We do it when we are awake and we do it in our sleep. Ninety-nine per cent of the time, we end up breathing subconsciously and without any extra effort. If done correctly, however, breathing is key to our overall health and fitness. It is how our bodies maintain a high metabolic rate and deliver oxygen to vital tissues. How many times have you been told to take a deep calming breath? Not only does breathing help relieve the body of anxiety and stress, proper breathing techniques also go a long way towards healthier living.

Did you know that there are different types of breathing technique?

  1. Diaphragmatic (normal) breathing
  2. Lateral breathing

I’d like to talk about diaphragmatic and lateral breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing is when we use our diaphragm to draw the air in and out. It is an automatic response, meaning that we don’t even have to think about it as it happens. Take a deep breath. Is your chest moving or is your belly moving? When your diaphragm moves, your stomach muscles also have to move. If they don’t, it means that you simply aren’t doing any diaphragmatic breathing. It’s as simple as that.

Lateral breathing, on the other hand, is a technique wherein air is taken into the sides of the lungs causing the rib cage to expand towards the sides and not the diaphragm as is the case with normal breathing. Most commonly used in exercise routine such as Pilates, lateral or intercostal breathing is what helps an individual breathe deeply even when his/her abdominals are pulled in.

Where can one learn the correct breathing technique?

Yoga practitioners in India have been using breathing techniques (called pranayama) for positively influencing the body and the mind for over a thousand years now. Yoga enthusiasts across the world teach you how to breathe effectively. But why do you need a yoga practitioner to teach you something as simple as how to breathe … because we’re too busy to pay attention to our breath.

Breathing exercise: 

  1. Place one hand on your belly (not chest) and breathe in.
  2. Pay attention to your belly – is it moving in or out? (For healthy breathing, your belly must move outward when you inhale.)
  3. Now exhale. This is when your belly must look sucked in.
  4. Try it again. Inhale - belly out and exhale – belly in.
  5. It’s not easy, is it? Those who regularly practice yoga, however, are quite familiar with this breathing technique. Breathing through the belly allows us to breathe more deeply which is beneficial for the body. And while yoga advocates that we breathe in and out through our nasal cavity, Pilates encourages you to breath out through the mouth. In Pilates, we also teach people to breathe laterally wile maintaining your core muscles contracted. 

In both of the above techniques - breath facilitates movement and movement facilitates breath.

What do we know about breathing and exercise? We're breathing much faster. This is because when we exercise, there is a rise in the levels of CO2 and lactic acid in the body which must be offloaded so that a healthy supply of oxygen can reach our working muscles. You might have noticed - some people are subconsciously holding their breath when they exercise. This is detrimental because if you hold your breathe when you exercise there is build-up of carbon dioxide in the body which causes you to fatigue faster. Sounds familiar ....?

Proper breathing thus not only increases the effectiveness of your workout, it also helps you cope with the anxiety and stress of the modern world. Keep breathing! 

If you like this blog you can subscribe to our RSS feeds to make sure you'll be first to find out when our next blog will go live.

MIDDLE AGED? REGAIN THE BODY OF YOUR YOUTH WITH PILATES

Our mid-40s are a critical time in our lives, not just because of all the hormonal changes our body undergoes, but also because it is natural to feel less active as one gets older. According to experts, our fitness levels decline as we age and this drop is most severe as we approach 45. Social and lifestyle changes at this time also affect fitness levels. So, if you’re thinking of taking it easy and simply putting your feet up because you have reached middle age, don’t. Women who do nothing to stop their body’s natural decline face higher risk of diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

Don’t give up on that exercise yet. Nothing too vigorous though, since this is also when our bodies begin to lose bone mass (thanks to osteoporosis) and take longer to heal. While brisk evening walks are a great way to stay fit and breathe in some fresh air and cycling and swimming are both highly recommended, the wholesome benefits of Pilates cannot be underestimated.

middle-aged-regain-body-youts-pilates

Low-impact and partially weight-bearing, Pilates is great for building core strength, flexibility, co-ordination and balance endurance. Regular classes will not only help improve your posture, giving you a stronger, healthier back that is free from lower back pain, but it will also give you a sense of calm and well-being.

Still don’t think you need any form of exercise? Why not perform this simple test to check your overall body strength:

  • Get into the plank position and try to hold it for at least 60 seconds. Can’t? 
  • Time to roll out that Pilates mat and giant ball! 
  • Look up some videos on the internet, or even better, join a Pilates group class in the area (this is recommended if you are a beginner) and get started.
  • And if you don’t think this can help, just retest yourself with the “plank test” on the first of every month (after starting the strength program of course) and see the difference for yourself.

Everyone from Cameron Diaz, who says she looks better at 40 than she did at 24, to Kate Winslet (who does a mixture of mat and reformer) to superstar Sandra Bullock, swear by a regular Pilates routine. Vanessa Williams even claims to have been doing “Pilates before people even knew how to spell Pilates” after she had her first child, 22 years ago. And who can deny how great she looks for her age? In case you didn’t know, Williams is 51 years old. Well past the 40 mark.

So if you too want to say goodbye to stress, lose those extra pounds and be free from back pain, why not opt for Pilates as a means to regain that stunning silhouette of your youth? It’s not just a celebrity fad. It really strengthens and tones the body from the inside out, leaving you looking younger and more supple every day.

As Joseph Pilates so succinctly put it, Your true age is not measured by the number on your birth certificate. If, at 30, you are stiff and out of shape, you are old. But if, at 60, you are supple and strong, then you are still young.”