Why is posture so important?

Why is posture so important?

It’s drilled into us from our first day of school: sit up, don’t slouch! Being nagged is no fun for anyone, but it turns out your Year 11 maths teacher might have had a point. Maintaining good posture is so important for many reasons, and some of them might surprise you.

Posture & Pain

Bad posture leads to long-term pain. Ask anyone who sits for long periods of time and they’ll tell you all about that niggling little pain in their neck or lower back.

One of the most common postures is ‘forward head posture.’ Often seen in those who work at a desk, this is where your head sits forward from the midline of your shoulders. Over time, sustained slumped-forward posture creates unnecessary stress and strains your spine which can lead to the space between joints in the neck narrowing, and consequently, reduced movement. Over time the muscles, ligaments and joints supporting the neck and upper back have to work extra hard to carry the weight of the head. This can result in neck and shoulder pain, as well as many other conditions.

Improving postural awareness can dramatically reduce pain in the back and shoulders (1) as well as reducing general aches and pains within the body (2)


Not sitting or standing correctly can give you headaches. Cervico genic headaches are headaches that arise from the neck. When we slouch, the structures in the middle of the neck become compressed, causing pain and shortening the structures which pull on the back of the skull.

Poor Posture and the Psyche

Your posture can affect how you feel. Ever wondered how your body language is perceived by others?

In 2012, Harvard University student Amy Cuddy completed a landmark study that showed participants who sat in a high-power pose (straight back, open posture) compared to a low-power pose (leaning inwards, legs crossed) for two minutes performed better in mock interviews.

Equally, those that adapted higher power pose positions demonstrated an increase in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol, which reinforced their increased feeling of power. Cuddy’s message was simple: how we hold ourselves really can have an impact on how we perform!

Lower Lung Function

Poor posture can affect your fitness!

Hunching over can stop your lungs from expanding properly by as much as 30%, which can lead to shortness of breath, clouded thinking making you feel tired, exhausted, and sleepy

Feel Good!

Improving your posture can also improve your mood and the way you feel.

Studies have shown that people with mild to moderate depression felt more alert after simply keeping their back and shoulders upright while sitting.

They also reported less anxiety [3] as well as having better body image [4]

So, how can we improve our posture?

  • First things first: stand up straight! You don’t need to don a furry hat and impersonate a Palace guard, but it is important to lengthen the spine, keep your chin up and draw your shoulders back. Keeping your spine aligned like this helps you to move more easily, and allows your body to support your weight better, reducing the risk of neck and back pain.

  • If you find yourself slouching over, imagine an invisible string is pulling you up by the top of your head. Roll your shoulders back and keep them inline with your ears.

  • Try to be mindful of your posture in your day-to-day life - while sitting, walking, doing the shopping or even watching tv. Poor posture can creep up on all of us, but if we know what to look out for we can correct it instantly! Make sure your head isn’t positioned over your neck and change sitting positions regularly.

Keep the back moving!

  • Stay active and maintain a healthy weight. This one’s a no-brainer; if your joints are under too much stress their ability to support you effectively is inhibited, so try and take part in some light to moderate physical activity at least three times a week.

    • Wear low-heeled shoes as much as possible. Wearing heels every once in a while is fine, but try to stick to low-heeled shoes whenever you can. They can make you walk differently, putting more stress on your muscles and joints.

    • When sitting, keep your elbows close to your body and make sure your back is well supported. Try to keep your feet flat on the floor, or use a footrest.

It might seem small, but correct posture is vital for a healthy body and mind.

Next time you feel yourself slouching, take a moment, stretch, and correct yourself.

You’ll be glad you did!