Our posture is the position we hold our bodies in while standing, sitting, or lying down. “Good posture” is the correct musculoskeletal alignment supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity. Without the muscles that control posture, our bodies would not be able to support us. Several muscle groups, including the hamstrings and back muscles, are responsible for support and maintaining a healthy posture.
Between work, home life, and social events, our bodies assume different positions- some better than others. With more than half of adult Americans suffering from back pain, maintaining good posture is crucial. To help you stay aligned, here are 6 tips to improve your posture.
Although temporarily comfortable, slouching puts unnecessary stress on your spine. Pressure caused by slouching puts a strain on the bones, muscles, and joints that hold your backbone in place. Poor posture is not just bad for your back; constant slouching pushes down on your organs and makes it harder for your lungs and intestines to work properly. Making a conscious effort to stand or sit up straighter takes time, but your body will thank you.
While walking, most people tend to carry themselves with some sort of hunch. Whether carrying bags or bracing the cold, tense shoulder muscles are not good for your back. Standing up tall, as if you are measuring your height against a wall, is a great way to prevent posture problems like this from developing into unhealthy habits. Stand with your shoulders back, knees slightly bent, and belly tucked in. Your head should be straight and your chin relaxed. Try to remind yourself at least once a day to stand up taller.
Rolling chairs make it hard to maintain good posture. Leaning back, swiveling, and rolling to and from your desk means that your body is frequently in motion. To help prevent poor posture while sitting, aim to sit as far back in the chair as possible. Keep your knees bent at a right angle and keep them the same height, or even a bit higher, than your hips with your feet flat on the floor. This position promotes healthy alignment for your spine’s natural curve.
Although your car may allow it, sitting too far back while driving has various repercussions. As a driver, reclining your seat back too far limits your ability to see at long distances- it also is not good for your posture. Instead, pull your seat closer to the steering wheel. Allow enough room to move your legs, but not extend them straight. Putting a pillow or rolled-up towel behind your lower back can also help with improving your posture.
If you are on your smartphone all day, you have probably experienced “text neck.” When you tilt your head down to check messages it really strains your spine. Over the course of time, that strain may add up. For a better view, lift the phone up and move your eyes, not your head. Take a minute to stretch your neck when you notice you have not looked up in a while. Working your neck muscles allows your body to momentarily relax and readjust.
Choosing a firm mattress that helps hold your spine’s natural shape is a must for healthy posture and good night’s sleep. If you tend to sleep on your side, place a pillow under your head so it is more level with your spine. Similarly, people who sleep on their back should opt for a smaller or flatter pillow.
Poor posture can lead to excessive strain on your postural muscles and affect your day-to-day life. Knowing what proper posture is and consciously being aware of your own posture takes time and usually some guidance. At IMPACT Physical Therapy, our physical therapists understand that teaching our patients tips and tricks not only benefits them during recovery, but for the rest of their lives. To learn more about the services we provide and improve the quality of your life, find the closest IMPACT Physical Therapy location near you!