Although I treat people with aches and pains, I’m a great advocate of preventative treatment. Ongoing therapy helps you to avoid damage, and you can improve your response to treatment by looking at your posture.
It’s only when we make a conscious effort to think about it that we tend to realise our posture isn’t as good as it could be. Even if we don’t practice them, we know how important diet and exercise are, but we need to consider structural health as fundamental to our wellbeing.
When you practice correct posture, your body is in alignment with itself. This can help common problems such as back or neck pain, headaches, and fatigue –all too common in this day and age where many of us sit at desks or behind a steering wheel for hours on end.
What is good posture?
Well, essentially it’s keeping your body aligned. A straight back, squared shoulders, chin up, chest out, stomach in. Teach your body what it feels like to have good posture: stand with your back against a wall, with the back of your head, your shoulders, and your backside just touching it. It will feel awkward at first, but the more your practice, the more natural it will become
Here are some techniques to build into your day:
Sitting at a desk or driving:
- Roll your shoulders to release built-up tension
- Keep your head back. Ideally, your ears should be in line with your shoulders. As we focus on our work, there is a natural tendency to protrude the head and neck forward. So, computer monitors and reading materials should be placed directly in front of you at eye level. Use a laptop stand!
- Move around frequently. Take breaks to stand up and walk around to counteract the cardiovascular health risks associated with prolonged periods of sitting.
- Elongate your spine. Imagine it forming an S-shaped curve, aligning your shoulders with your hips to evenly distribute body weight over the whole spine. Sit all the way back in a firm straight-back chair and to place a small cushion in the small of your back for lumbar support. Tuck in your chin and don’t curve your back forward.
- Don’t forget your arms. Your chair height and proximity to your desk /steering wheel should allow for your upper arms to be between vertical and 20° forward.
- Engage your abdominal muscles. Train this “corset” to support your back and so your posture.
- Place your feet about shoulder width apart, the same stance you would use for working out or many other physical activities.
- Stand up straight.
- Keep your weight on the balls of your feet.
- Keep your shoulders squared.
- Pull your head back and up. Picture yourself reaching for the ceiling with the top of your head. Keep your head square on top of the neck and spine as you do this.
- Avoid pushing your head forward.
- Keep your head up, shoulders back, chest out and eyes looking straight ahead
A great side benefit of keeping your head straight, and your ears/shoulders/hips aligned is an improvement in your self-esteem and attitude. If you carry yourself with your head up, you appear more confident, and feel more confident, which improves your attitude and mood.
So… we need to actively think about posture. It will seem strange at first, after all, we’re re-training our bodies, but the more we practice, the more automatic it becomes.