As a kid, you were undoubtedly told to stand up straight.
Your folks were onto something there. When it comes to managing bad backs, having a healthy posture is essential to get you on the road to good health.
Having good posture not only prevents neck and back pain but also a range of other health problems, such as headaches, gastrointestinal conditions and muscular spasms.
With an aligned spine (your head is properly positioned over the body not too far forward or tilted to one side), you can breathe easier, stand taller and enjoy life! Postural experts generally agree that in an ideal position, the body balances the weight of all its parts to provide a stable connection between the upper and lower body – thus leading to better support and movement.
Here are some handy tips for an ideal posture:
Keep a good posture in daily life
Slouching, as we know, leads to all kinds of problems. Pay careful attention to your posture during all your daily activities throughout the day – and night. This means being vigilant about workplace ergonomics by taking regular breaks, changing postures, varying tasks and buying a good adjustable chair. Ergonomics also extends to other tasks such as driving, cooking, looking after your kids, manual labour and even sleeping! It can also mean paying attention to the smallest detail, such as the type of bag you carry. A tip: when doing an activity, try not to twist, bend or move your joints abruptly or in an uncomfortable way.
As with anything, practice makes perfect. So you should also practice proper posture. According to some experts, it’s best to imagine a balloon attached to your head (otherwise known as the ‘plumb line’). To achieve this, avoid slumping or slouching. Position your head above your sitting bones without transferring your weight too far forward, backward or sideways. It’s normal to have a light curve in the low back, but don’t over arch. Breathe deeply and relax your shoulders. Finally, make sure your head is not tilted forward by aligning your ears to your shoulders.
Know when to seek professional help
As much as we love people to help themselves with home exercises, self awareness and other self empowerment tools, there are often cases where you’ll need to seek the support of qualified professionals. If you have a postural imbalance that you can’t manage on your own, it’s useful to start some sort of therapy program. This may include modalities such as physiotherapy, massage, biomechanics training, weight control, pilates, yoga,Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, strength training or personal training. These therapies will help you strengthen your core posture muscles (back and abdominal muscles) and offer a tailor-made program to get you on the way to an upright and healthy posture.
Get your walking posture checked out
Did you know that in some cases, back pain may be caused by your walking posture?
Each day, our dynamic range of movements involve stretching, reaching, balancing, running and jumping, which puts a consistent amount of stress on our bodies every day. A spine can look normal in a static position but go out of balance once you’re moving.
Physiotherapists can do a walking posture analysis to work out exactly which part of your body is being stressed during dynamic movement so they can create an appropriate treatment program for you.
Author: Katherine Macpherson