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Stand sideways in front of a full length mirror. If you draw an invisible straight line through your body, does your ear, shoulder, hip and ankle joint align together? It’s very important to maintain the natural curvature of the spine without stiffening and straining your muscles. This places the least possible stress on your body to create efficient biomechanics and also prevents unnecessary fatigue, pain, injuries and helps decrease the abnormal wearing out of your joint surfaces. Maintaining good posture applies to all movements and while at rest. Correct strong posture is the prerequisite of any movement.
For those you who work out, you may be more conscious about your posture while exercising yet fail to extend the practice outside the gym. Your workout only comprises about 20 percent or less of all daily activity, and the 80 percent outside the gym should be equally important as well.

Posture is maintained mainly by the muscles and non-contractile tissues such as ligaments, joint capsules, etc. Proper posture is indicated by balance in postural and phasic muscles (flexibility, length and strength) and proper alignment of the structure.

Most people are unaware of the importance of proper posture and the extent of its ill effects. Bad posture negatively affects the whole body (acute and chronic) from sore muscles to vertebral misalignment, spinal deviation, blood vessel constriction, nerve pinching, etc. A common mismanaged rounded upper back constricts the rib cage making it impossible to breathe fully resulting in oxygen deficiency. Or the swayback, where the intestines press against the floor of the abdominal cavity instead of being held in place. Pressures on the vertebral discs are higher when sitting than when standing or lying down.

The pain you feel while standing for long periods is muscle related due to tired lower back muscles. We relax our supporting muscles while sitting which causes a majority of body weight to load onto our discs. Increased pressure on the discs in and of itself does not necessarily cause immediate pain, thus people are often unaware of this pressure which in the long term can cause deformation in the spinal discs and consequential challenges.
There are certain contributing factors to a faulty posture such as genetic deformities which are quite rare but faulty postures are mainly due to bad postural habits, asymmetry, low mental state, over (tightness) or underuse(weakness) of muscles and faulty movements.

Good posture works as prevention, helps your become calmer, relaxed, projects poise and strength, confidence, frees up energy and helps in your overall wellbeing. Rectifying and improving your posture will take time and effort, but the benefits are worth it. Here are some tips for maintaining a good posture:

A healthy back has three natural curves, a slight forward curve in the neck, a slight backward curve in the upper back, and a slight forward curve in the lower back. These three curves should be kept in a balanced alignment to maintain good posture. Strong muscles of the abdomen, hip and leg support the back’s natural curve whereas hip, knee and ankle joints helps to balance it in motion.
Incorporate exercise into your life even if it is 20 minutes of walking. Stretching and deep breathing help to relax your body. A well designed training program includes flexibility, mobility and strength by a qualified fitness trainer.

Lose excess weight. Excess weight causes extended lumbar curve. It can be minimised to a certain extent by strengthening the abdominal muscles and stretching the hip flexors. But the long term solution is fat loss only.
Limit time spent sitting at a stretch as much as possible. Take breaks every 20-30 minutes to stretch, walk around when sitting for extended hours of time.
Posture for movements is a subject of detailed study but in general, care must be taken not to place your body in a way where it creates imbalance in the posture line. Apply good body mechanics at all times. Weight bearing activity should be performed in such a way that the weight is closer to the body or the posture line. Best way to monitor this is through body awareness by checking on any unnecessary strain on your muscles and joints and reacting by adjusting it.

You should not suffer for fashion. Your feet are connected to your back. Wear comfortable and well supported shoes at all times.
If you are already suffering from back aches, shoulder and neck stiffness, numbing or tingling sensation in the legs and arms, please see a professional to analyse and diagnose your condition to eliminate further damage through proper treatment. Specific exercises have to be performed to correct postural imbalances.

Sandesh Palungwa Limbu is a certified professional fitness instructor, founder of RAGE Fitness, and also specialises in mixed martial arts. For answers to your fitness queries, write to him at ragefitness@live.com