Aside from the assumptions that people might make because of it, the way you carry yourself is far more important than a simple social signifier. The general positioning of your body can have huge effects on the components within and can have a lasting effect on how prepared you are for all kinds of physical stressors – from exercise to gravity itself.
When you have bad posture, your muscles have to work harder to keep you balanced. Standing upright and not slouching means that your centre of gravity is in the easiest position for your body as a whole to cope with it.
If your muscles and bones get used to holding you at an awkward angle, it gets increasingly difficult to change how they support your form to a way that is both comfortable and healthy. Being consistently unbalanced like this can make you more likely to suffer from basic accidents that being generally more upright and self-aware when it comes to the position of your body can ward off fairly easily.
This can have a direct impact on your body’s ability to handle strain. That might be a bag you carry into work, or a new couch you’re moving into your home, or just the weight of your flesh on your bones.
This can both cause and perpetuate the effect of an unnecessary strain on your muscles.
It can also put pressure on your joints, ligaments and even internal organs if your weight is improperly supported. If your skeleton is bent into a permanent slouch or the fat that is supposed to protect your insides is pushed inwards, your vital organs won’t be getting the protection they need and can be more likely to fail.
Having bad posture doesn’t only affect you physically – it puts a lot of tension on your mind as well.
Some studies have shown links between poor posture and issues with exclusively mental causes. This includes consistently flagging energy levels with no other reasonable cause, a heightening sensitivity to pain and erratic emotional states that have no direct correlation with any other stressors.
For something that causes such enormous damage to the body and, by extension, a person’s experience of the world, posture is something that is simple to get right once you have a good understanding of it.
Good posture, at its heart, means that your spine is in proper alignment with your muscles.
As long as your back is straight, you’ll keep your centre of gravity in your hips. Standing, your feet need to be in line with your shoulders so that they act as a prime base of support for your weight.
Once that becomes comfortable for you, your posture will become naturally beneficial to so many aspects of your life.
Kirstie Summers is journalist whose day job takes her to all the most interesting places and events in South London. She also freelances for a number of sites and publications, from gaming and literature reviews to creative fiction. She lives in London and spends as much of her free time as possible making the most of being in such a diverse city. She keeps one day a week to herself to swim, relax and keep the stress of the world at bay.