09 Nov Are You a Slouch? (3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Posture)
Remember when you were growing up, how your parents and teachers loved to tell you to sit up straight? And you’d respond by rolling your eyes, sitting up straight (ish) and then two minutes later slumping back down into your chair, only to be reminded again. Fast forward to today and how many times a day do you mean to sit up straight only to find yourself sitting with a banana spine, low riding in your chair or bent so forward so that you can hold your head up with your hand? If you are like the rest of us, the answer is probably, everyday!
So what’s all the fuss about posture and why is it so important?
For starters, the ill effects of bad posture are more extensive than you probably ever imagined. Not only can poor posture lead to back problems, it can also lead to pinched nerves, a pain in your neck (literally), shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists and hands. It can even cause pain in your bum and legs. Poor posture has also been linked to diminished range of motion of your joints, headaches, shallow breathing, digestive problems, fatigue, compression of internal organs and even depression. So, our parents and teachers were definitely onto something!
There are three primary ways we tend to get into posture trouble.
- Slouching, which includes any variation of rounding your spine and losing the natural curves of your lower back and neck (lumbar and cervical spine) while exaggerating the roundness of your upper back (thoracic spine)
- Over arching, (sitting up too straight) which exaggerates the natural curve of your lower back (lumbar area) and requires a lot of muscular effort to sustain this posture.
- Twisting, which includes any variation of misalignment of your pelvic area in relation to your upper back and shoulders.
In order to benefit from healthy posture, there are few things to understand about your spine. Your spine naturally has 3 curves (when looking from a side view)
- Your cervical spine (neck) has a slight inward curve
- Your thoracic spine (middle of back – think shoulder blad area) has a slight outward curve
- Your lumbar spine (lower back) has a slight inward curve.
These curves help to absorb shock, maintain balance, and allow you to enjoy a full range of motion.
Here are 3 easy ways to maintain these curves, with the natural result being a balanced and healthy posture when sitting or standing:
Please Pay Attention to Your Set Up:
- Set yourself up so that you don’t have to reach with any part of your body to get your work done.
- Your keyboard and mouse should be placed close enough to your body so that your upper arms hang comfortably (elbow under shoulder) and your elbows bend at 90 degrees or slightly more open. This will help you avoid rounding your back.
- You monitor should be easily viewable and positioned so that your head doesn’t have to crane forward or turn to one side.
- Mobile devices should also be used close to your body and pay attention to where you neck and head is when viewing your screen.
- Avoid twisting your torso when working.
Learn How to Comfortably Sit (and Stand): When it comes to sitting and standing posture, your pelvis determines whether or not your posture will work for you or against you. A neutral posture allows the natural curves of the spine to stay aligned.
- A pelvis that is tipped backwards, promotes rounded posture and if it is tipped forward, you will be overarched.
- Shoulders should be open and relaxed, your head balanced over the plane of your spine. If sitting, your knees should be level with or slightly lower than your hips with your feet on the floor or a footrest.
- If standing, make sure your shoulder is lined up over your elbow, elbow over hip, hip over knee and knee over ankle. And of course, wear comfortable shoes!
Keep Your Energy Up: In a few words?
- Get enough sleep. When you are tired, everything collapses including your posture.
- Make sure to get enough rest and exercise and try to avoid foods that zap you of your energy!
Good posture not only helps you to feel good, but you will look great too!
So, what do you do to maintain good posture? Please leave a comment! We’d love to hear from you!
Vivienne & Andrew, PBE Co-Founders
Want to learn more about posture and wellness?
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