What your posture says about YOU – and the serious health risks you face

WE'VE all had those days when we slouch around, only for a friend or family member to tell us to stand up straight.

Having a good posture can be beneficial for your overall health – giving you increased energy and reduced back pain.

Standing up straight can also help you avoid muscle tension, pain, fatigue and many other common medical ailments.

But experts have also said that the type of posture you have, reveals a lot about your health and the type of person you are.

Here we look at the most common positions and how they could leave you with unwanted aches and pains.

Power

Standing up straight is one of the best postures and helps you come across as trustworthy and in control, body language expert Inbaal Honigman said.

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Inbaal, who is working with furniture specialist HSL said working hard at having a great posture, and investing in it – will pay for itself, in the opportunities that will be available to you, and the image that you will project every day.

Occupational therapist, Julie Jennings explained that everyone should practise this posture where possible.

"Your spine has three natural curves – at your neck, mid, and lower back, and practising the correct posture should maintain these curves, not increase them.

"Your head should naturally sit above your shoulders, and the top of your shoulders should be aligned with the hips.

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"Practising this posture will reduce the risk of any unwanted aches and pains, poor circulation, and fatigue.

"It will also make you look taller and more confident.”

Hunched

No one wants to look weak, and Inbaal said that this is exactly what the hunched posture conveys.

He said that in terms of body language, round shoulders state that you are closed off from the rest of the world.

It also suggests that you have an air of fearfulness and tension.

"This makes you seem like you are not interested in the people around you.

"For most people, this is not attractive – when meeting strangers for the first time, or in a job interview setting, you'll be known as the worrier, because slumped shoulders look as if you're carrying the weight of the world on your back", he said.

Julie explained that the hunched over position is commonly known as the Kyphosis Posture.

In terms of how it impacts your health, Julie said standing this way will put a huge strain on the spine.

This, she said, will contribute to neck and backaches and may even compress the chest which can contribute to chest pains.

"Everyday tasks will be harder to achieve, and significant pressures will be placed on your heart and lungs making even breathing harder to do", she said.

Stooping

Inbaal said that stooping forward is something we naturally do when we are paying attention to someone – but that it looks odd if it's your permanent position.

While it makes you look caring, it doesn't project self confidence.

"If you're constantly leaning forward, lending your ear to somebody else, when would you be fulfilling your own needs", he said.

Julie said that this posture is also known as the Swayback Posture and highlighted that people who have this, have exaggerated curves in their spine.

These people often have forward-tilting hips, and the appearance of leaning when standing.

"This is a poor posture position and people who project this posture may experience frequent neck, back and shoulder pains and in some cases, it may even cause your spine to deteriorate over time leading to further serious health problems.”

How to prevent poor posture

Having a good posture can be beneficial for your health.

Julie said that there are plenty of ways in which you can prevent poor posture from occurring or improve your posture if you have signs of any of the above.

She said: "Now that the weather is warming up, gentle exercise is great for strengthening and stretching out muscles and encouraging a good range of motion in your joints.

"You can also ensure you are practicing good posture habits through sitting and walking correctly, which will ensure good posture becomes part of your natural habits.

"Making small changes now can reap huge rewards in your general health and wellbeing.”

Avoidance

If you practise the avoidance posture, then you appear to look like you are evading others, and you could make those in your company feel self-conscious and possibly even rejected.

Inbaal said this posture looks very stand-offish to the innocent passer-by, and your non-verbal communication says, 'I'd rather be anywhere but here,' even if you don't mean to.'

This posture is also commonly known as ‘Flat Back or Scoliotic Posture', and refers to the lower back flattening out and rotating slightly. 

"When the lower back flattens and twists, you will lose the curve in your spine, meaning your pelvis will tip backwards and sideways.

"This position will put increased pressure on your spine, which in turn prevents the normal range of motion from occurring, which, over time, will lead to muscle and joint deterioration, a reduction in movement and pain", she said.

Defensive

The defensive posture is an almost cartoonish representation of 'giving up.'

In body language terms, Inbaal says this is the most defensive posture, as your whole upper body is starting to roll itself into a protective, childish figure.

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Julie adds: “The defensive posture is commonly referred to as ‘Forward Head Posture’ this is when your neck slants forward, and your head hangs in front of your shoulders instead of resting directly above them.

"This particular posture will put a lot of pressure and demand on the neck which may lead to fatigue; coupled with poor circulation and where the body does not get enough oxygen, muscles and joints are more easily damaged and less likely to repair well.”

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