Is Bad Posture Affecting Your Life?
Having neck or jaw pain? Bad posture can affect your life in more ways than you might imagine. When your posture is poor, your body is misaligned and excessive and repeated strain is put on the neck muscles, low back and even the jaw.
Incorrect posture doesn’t happen overnight: rather it is the result of years of unconscious slouching, sloping and hunching–when sitting, standing or even sleeping. We all know how easy it is to slouch when we’re tired, but the bad news is that poor posture isn’t just a result of tiredness, it’s also a cause of it: when your muscles aren’t working properly to support your head, fatigue is the result.
This is why it’s vital to try to maintain good posture whenever possible. This may require retraining your body to naturally default to positions where the right set of muscles are keeping you upright and aligned.
You don’t necessarily have to spend money on gadgets to improve your posture; just paying attention to how you sit and stand, and doing a few exercises, can lead to good results.
Maintain Your Posture When Sitting
The human body is not designed to spend long periods sitting in a chair, but many of us spend our entire days doing just that. Aside from trying to reduce the time you spend sitting–by getting up from your desk when you can, or by doing more of your job standing–the best thing you can do is to make sure your chair is properly supporting you, and that you in turn are using the chair correctly.
Modern office chairs are endlessly adjustable; it’s a good idea to spend some time experimenting with your own. The most important thing to remember is that your lumbar region should be well supported. Adjust the chair so its lumbar support fits snugly with your lower back, and try to avoid the temptation to inch forward.
Additionally, your elbows should be at your side when you use your keyboard, and your eye level should be at the top of your monitor. Try to remember to rest your feet flat on the floor.
Employers are obliged to make sure their staff can work comfortably, so if you find your chair doesn’t support you as well as it could, you should ask for a different one.
Good Posture When Standing
The most important thing to do when standing is to find your center. This is when your mass is evenly distributed through your body and each muscle supports only the weight it’s evolved to bear.
To achieve this, you should stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and make sure you’re carrying your weight on the balls of your feet, rather than your heels. Keep your shoulders squared and your head straight. Pretend you are balancing a book on your head and stand so that it wouldn’t fall off.
The good thing is, when you master good standing posture, you’ll not only be healthier, you’ll look more confident too.
Posture During Exercises
Regular exercise will improve your posture, but if you suspect yours is particularly bad there are some areas it’s worth concentrating on. Ideally, you should look to strengthen your core–that is, your abs and back. Having underdeveloped core muscles is both a symptom and a cause of poor posture. Try to incorporate core-strengthening exercises, such as sit-ups and the plank, into your daily routine.
Bad posture doesn’t happen overnight and it can’t be cured overnight either. If you want to improve yours (and in so doing improve your health), you must always be mindful of how you stand and sit.
If you are worried that poor posture is doing long-term damage to your health–or if you’re in pain–it’s a good idea to see a physical therapy specialist. They will recommend treatment, changes to your daily routine or an exercise plan that will help bring your body back towards balance and alignment.