Having good posture is definitely important if you want a healthy and well-functioning body. However, even though people know it is important, people rarely think about posture while performing everyday activities. It is usually not until postural related pain or discomfort occurs that people consciously make an effort to think about their posture. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can start doing today to improve your posture and help prevent muscle and joint problems down the road. This post focuses specifically on tips to improve lower body posture.
Before getting to the first tip, take a minute to stand the way you normally would, making sure to pay attention to your legs, specifically your knees. Do you stand with your legs straight and knees locked? If so, this first tip can have a dramatic impact on your way your body feels over the course of your lifetime.
Tip 1: Stand with a small bend in your knees.
This may not sound like a big deal, but standing with your knees bent takes a lot of pressure off your knee joint, which ultimately decreases problems in your knees and low back. The problem with keeping your legs straight and knees locked is that you knee joints end up supporting the weight of your body and joints are not designed to support significant amounts of weight. That job should be done by your muscles instead. When you bend your knees, it forces stabilizer muscles in your legs to activate, which takes the pressure off of the knees.
If you always stand with locked knees, then keeping a bend in your knees will probably feel strange and the postural muscles around your knees may become fatigued rather quickly. Chances are you will find yourself locking your legs out of habit without even realizing it and you will have to frequently check to make sure that you are keeping the small bend in your knees. By practicing the bent knee standing position, the postural muscles in your legs will soon increase in endurance and after a while you will be able to maintain this position without thinking about it and without having your muscles fatigue.
Time for another simple test. Take a few seconds to walk back and forth and watch your feet. Do your toes point straight ahead when you walk or do they turn in or turn out? If you are like most people, your toes probably turn out at least 10 degrees when you are walking normally. Walking with your toes turned either in or out is problematic, which leads to the second tip:
Tip 2: Always walk with your feet/toes pointed straight ahead and keep your knees in line with your toes.
Ideally, you should be able to draw a straight line through your hip, knee, ankle, and toes when you walk, meaning they are all moving in the same direction, which should be straight ahead. Walking with your feet turned out or in is a sign of tightness in the lower leg muscles, muscle imbalances, and/or poor walking technique, any of which will put excessive stress on your joints. Further stress is added if you walk with your knees bowing in or out, which is why you should have a straight line between your joints. This is considered proper alignment and it puts the minimum amount of stress is put on your joints.