Straighten Up! Guide to Good Posture
Mom always told us to “quit slouching." As usual, mom knew what she was talking about.
This is especially true when driving, using a cellphone, or working on a computer, which many of us may be doing more than usual. When we sit we tend to protrude our head and neck forward which pulls us out of alignment. Over time, this leads to fatigue and eventually pain in our neck and upper back.
A few steps we can take, make sure your car seat is close enough to the steering wheel so you don’t hunch forward. If you are working more often from your kitchen table, You’re probably not sitting in an ergonomic office chair, so consider getting lumbar support for your chair. Also, make sure your computer screen is directly in front of your eyes so you don’t have to look down.
Good posture helps us keep our bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly. This minimizes stress on our ligaments and prevents muscle strain, overuse, and back and muscular pain. However, correct posture is more than not slouching. Let’s get the facts straight on good posture.
Okay, this may seem easy enough, but it is important to know just how to position our bodies to achieve good posture. Stand tall and straight, face straight ahead, and tuck in the chin. Our ears should be a bit past the middle of our shoulders when we do this. Stand with the shoulders back, knees straight, and belly tucked in. It’s important to avoid overextending our backs as well so that our shoulders and rear-ends are poking towards the back of us. Don’t forget to distribute weight evenly on both legs, too!
It may seem like our bodies naturally want to slump down while sitting down, but it’s unfortunately not good for our posture. In order to combat this, lean all the way toward the back of the chair. Place a small, rolled-up towel or lumbar cushion behind the mid-back to protect the spine's natural curve. Bend your knees at a right angle and keep them the same height, or a bit higher, than the hips. Keep those feet flat on the ground as well. For people that find themselves sitting for long periods of time, like those with desk jobs, it definitely doesn't hurt to take extra precautions against slouching. Consider purchasing a standing desk, or for a cheaper alternative, stack some boxes on a countertop and work from there.
When we put on an excessive amount of weight, we put a lot of pressure on our spines and joints. This can lead to the back bending in unnatural ways. After a while, being overweight can cause poor posture, including stooped shoulders, a bent spine, hips that rotate out of alignment, and a protruding stomach. A study by PubMed states that posture tends to improve after weight loss as well.
Guys, you might need to skip this one, and ladies, yes, they may be super cute, but they wreak havoc on your posture! Pumps and stilettos push the base of the spine forward, causing the back to arch at an exaggerated angle. This changes the way the backbone lines up and puts pressure on nerves, which causes back pain. Sky-high shoes also put more weight on your knees. Athletic sneakers are the best shoe for supporting good posture, but if heels are a must, choose a lower, thicker heel.
Exercise not only helps us maintain proper weight but working on our cores keeps the back safe from injury, helps balance, and allows proper movement. All of these are key to having good posture. Other pain felt in the body can be connected to a weak core, since other muscles and parts of the body pick up the slack the spine can’t handle. A strong back is also a critical part of posture because a common cause of poor posture is weak upper back muscles, which can cause the shoulders to slump forward. Stretching the back and core muscles are also a good idea, especially when exercising isn't an option.