How we sit or stand greatly affects our posture. Poor posture is a source of continuous stress compromising our spine. This could cause deterioration of vertebra over time due to poor circulation and may also result in chronic fatigue and early exhaustion of muscles. Strain of a bad posture may lead to chronic neck, shoulder or back pain.
Most of the common reasons for a bad posture in everyday lives are; sitting and working on desks or computers for long hours, tilting the head or slouching the head forward while using cell phones, slouching while driving or travelling in a train or plane, prolonged use of heavy backpacks, previous injuries to neck, shoulder or back and use of improper shoes.
There are ways you can improve your posture, 5 tips that work are:
1) Train your body to put less pressure on your supporting muscles and ligaments while sitting, standing or walking. For example, while sitting on a chair keep your shoulders over your hips, back supported so as to be in neutral position with a natural curvature, feet placed flat on the floor, and chin aligned over the chest.
2) Make use of devices such as lumbar support pillows and seat wedges to reduce posture stress and maintain normal spinal curves when sitting for longer periods or while driving.
3) While working on computers, maintain your eyes level with the top of your monitor and keep your wrists and elbows straight at 90-degree angles. After every 20- 30 minutes, take a break, get-up and roll your shoulders down and back, then pull your elbows back towards your hips.
4) While standing, keep your shoulders slightly backwards and use your belly muscles to keep your body straight. Keep your knees bent slightly so as to reduce pressure on the hips. Breathe slowly through your nose and don’t protrude your chest forward rather keep it perpendicular to the ground. Change your standing position frequently and use shoes with good support, avoid wearing high heels if you are expecting to stand for a longer duration.
5) Maintain an active life style and incorporate stretches and exercises that strengthen your upper body and back. For anterior muscles, try reaching for the sky while lunging, it will open and lengthen the muscles in your front of chest, arms and front and sides of the hips. Similarly, for muscles on the back side do movements similar to rowing or pulling that involve pulling your shoulder blades down.
If you continue having posture issues or chronic pain in your neck, shoulders or back, you may consult a chiropractor for professional assistance.