Recognizing Signs of Bad Posture
- Know what good posture looks like. The first step to improving your posture is simply knowing what to look for in yourself. Make sure your shoulders are back, your stomach is in, and your chest is out. Stand sideways in a mirror and see if you can draw a straight line from your earlobe down through your shoulder, hip, knee, and ending at the middle of your ankle.
- Head and neck: Make sure that your head extends straight up from your shoulders. Many people tend to lean their head forward. If your ears line up with the front of your chest, you need to pull your head back.
- Shoulders, arms, and hands: Your arms and hands should fall on the side of your body. If so, your shoulders are exhibiting good posture. If your arms fall towards the front of your chest, then pull your shoulders back.
- Hips: Find a happy middle position between rolling your hips far forward or backward.
- Recognize pain and discomfort. The most obvious sign of bad posture is back, shoulder, and neck pain. Poor posture causes your chest muscles to tighten, which forces your upper back muscles to compensate. This results in weaker back muscles in general, which produces pain and discomfort. Since all of your muscles work together, when one muscle set isn’t functioning properly, the others are affected.
- Not all people with poor posture feel pain or discomfort. Our bodies are fairly capable of adjusting and compensating.
- See if you have “over-pronated” feet. This is when the arch of your foot is almost completely flat. It is also often called a “fallen arch”. Our feet are the lowest balancing mechanism of our bodies. If you have poor posture, you are forcing your feet to work harder to maintain balance. This causes your feet to gradually “flatten” so as to provide a sturdier foundation. If you improve your posture, your weight should rest nearly entirely on top of your heels, freeing up the remainder of your foot to have an arch.
- While “fallen arches” are themselves a sign of poor posture, you may also experience pain in your feet, ankle, calf, knee, hip, and lower leg area in general.
- Evaluate your mood. A study conducted at San Francisco State University asked students to walk down a hall in a slouched position or to stand upright and skip. The slouchers reported increased feelings of depression and general lethargy. While this may seem strange, think about it. Your body language often indicates your mood in general.You sit crouched in a corner with your arms crossed when you are angry or sad. You perk up when you are happy. So why can’t your moods tell you something about your body posture? If you’ve been down in the dumps, consider improving your posture.