Are you a sloucher or a leaner, or do you sit and stand straight and tall? Your posture has a big impact on the health of your back and the rest of your body, and the effects of poor posture accumulate over time. You might not notice any issues when you are young and sprightly, but years of poor posture can take their toll and lead to pain and discomfort. Correcting your posture can help prevent problems occurring, and stop them getting worse.
How does posture affect your health?
Poor posture such as slouching or leaning on one leg puts strain on your bones and muscles. This can lead to pain and discomfort, most commonly in your back, shoulders, and neck. It can also make you more prone to injury by making your spine more fragile and causing problems with balance. Poor posture can affect your breathing and digestion too as hunched positions provide less space for your internal organs making it harder for them to work effectively.
It can be hard correcting your posture at first because your body is so used to being held a certain way. To change your posture requires engaging different muscles which might get tired quickly at first. If you keep practicing though, these muscles will get stronger, and soon it will feel easy and natural to hold yourself with good posture.
How to correct common posture mistakes
Bending your neck to look down at your phone puts a huge strain on your spine. Correct it by lifting your phone (or device) up to your eye level and avoiding over-use. Many devices allow you to cast to other devices so you could try casting some things to your TV or computer screen to look at them in a more comfortable position.
Hunching, slouching, & leaning
Over time, these positions can put strain on your body leading to pain. Correct it by sitting or standing straight and tall. Imagine a piece of string pulling you up from the crown of your head. If sitting, your lower back should be supported and both feet should be flat on the floor with your hips and knees at right angles. If standing, spread your weight evenly across both feet, pull your shoulders gently back and your tummy in.
Not moving regularly
Staying in one position for a long time puts prolonged pressure on certain parts of your body causing tension. You might resort to slouching or slumping to take the pressure off. Correct it by changing position or moving regularly, and allowing other muscles and parts of your body to take over. To help you move more when you're in a sedentary role at work, you could try rotating tasks intermittently, or setting an alarm to remind you to stand up and stretch for a few minutes every 20 – 60 minutes.
Preventing posture related pain
It’s important to be aware of your posture and correct it whenever you notice it’s not quite right. The effects of both good and bad posture build up over time, so the more you practice good posture over bad posture, the easier it will be to maintain it and vice versa.
You can help yourself further by exercising regularly and focusing on strengthening the muscles that help you hold yourself well. Classes such as yoga, Pilates and tai chi are great for building a solid core foundation of strength, and swimming can give you a good full body workout whilst minimising the impact on your joints.
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