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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Tips on Do's And Don'ts of Good Posture

                                                        Getty Images
Yesterday I had a visitor. This particular visitor, as part of his conversation was narrating how he is hurting from his lower back condition and all the trouble that he is going through to go for treatments and how much time consuming it is to execute all these. All this was fine, but what captured my interest the most was that that this person as he was narrating all this, his posture just wasn’t right. He was using his body poorly on the sofa. Then I thought even before he obtains all his long listed treatments, one simple correction could solve 50% of his condition and that’s POSTURE

So today I shall set up a post on the importance of requiring or improving POSTURE to enhance your health and well-being.


Firstly, what does a good posture mean? We may imagine, for instance, when standing, if we are slouching, then pulling the shoulders back and lifting the chest would make the posture right. Huh, let me think, NO. I will say slouching is bad, but lifting the chest and pulling the shoulders back is slouching BACKWARDS! Isn't it? Instead, I would say it’s neither forward nor backward, it’s a balanced position where it is comfortable and you are breathing effortlessly. 

A good posture should make you feel and look good and making sure that our bodies function properly. Technically, posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting or lying down. A good posture is the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity.

Importance
You may think is it really that bad to have a bad posture? Yes quite a bit, as it turns out to be!
Let’s see the effects of not having a good posture:
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  • Wrong posture can cause misalignment in your body which can negatively affect the muscles and bones resulting in change in the way you move and can even limit your range of motion.
  • Bad circulation – when you slouch so does your spine affecting your circulation and in turn deteriorates the health of the spinal bones (vertebrae).
  • Chronic fatigue – moving your body with poor posture is taxing on your muscles and joints. Coupled with the circulation issues poor posture can cause, the result can be earlier exhaustion in many cases.
  • Chronic back, neck and shoulder pain – a bad position puts strain on the body whereas a neutral position relaxes the body.


Causes of bad posture
A bad posture is not always sign of laziness as perceived by many.  Some main causes are:
  • Weight issues – it changes how our skeleton and muscles support themselves.
  • Being less active – leading to increased risk for disease.
  • Poor muscle strength/fitness
  • Stress/low self-esteem
  • Unsupportive shoes
  • Genetics
  • Accidents or injuries
  • Foot problems/unsupportive footwear
  • Others –

o   Poor lumbar support while seated
o   Unsupportive mattress
o   Chairs that are too high or too low
o   Hunching to get closer to a screen


So what do you need to do?
Usually we do not consciously maintain normal/correct posture. Instead, several muscle groups, including hamstrings and back muscles maintain good posture.  Understanding good posture can help you realign your body the right way.

Our spine is strong and stable only when we practice healthy posture. Good posture helps in maintain the natural curves (cervical, thoracic and lumbar curves). Also a strong posture gives more confidence and makes you appear slimmer!!!
Achieving a correct posture does not end to just standing, sitting or lying down. Attaining a good posture during any activity is also a must.


So here are some tips for Great Posture in Every Position

Position
DO’s
DON’Ts
Sitting
·  Keep your head straight and not tilted up or down
·   Sit with your knees slightly lower than your hips.
·  Keep your shoulders back and try to relax
·  Keep weight evenly on both hips
·  Keep your feet flat on the floor
·  Try to keep your back ramrod straight
·  Tuck feet under the chair
·  Work without support for your arms
·  Cross your legs  above the knees as may cause poor circulation
·  Sitting in same position for more than 30 minutes



Standing
·  Keep your shoulders back and aligned
·  Use your stomach muscles to make your body straighter.
·  Slightly bend your knees to ease pressure on the hips
·  Use quality shoes that offer good support.
·  Stick your chest out. Instead try to keep your chest perpendicular to the ground.
·   Stand in the same position for long periods of time. Move around and shift your weight.
·  Wear high heels when standing for long periods of time.



Walking
·  Keep your chin parallel to the ground
·  Hit the ground with your heel first and then roll onto the toe.
·  Look down at your feet. Instead, look several feet ahead of you.
·  Arch your back.



Running
·  Keep your head up and looking forward
·  Keep your arms loose and elbows at a 90 degree angle
·  Lean forward slightly
·  Hit the ground with the midpoint of your foot and roll forward to the toe.
·  Hunch your shoulders
·  Bend at your waist
·  Lift your knees too high. Go with what feels natural.



Lifting
·  Bend at knees and lift.
·  Stand with wide stance close to the object
·  Keep the stomach muscles tight.
·  Bend forward at waist with your knees straight
·  Lifting heavy objects (>30 pounds) above waist level.



Sleeping or lying down
·  Use firm mattress that provides support.
·  Minimize spinal curves by using pillows as necessary or upgrading your mattress
·  Stretch before bed to ease tense muscles
·  Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs, on your back, or under your knees for better support
·  Sleep on your stomach. It can cause pressure on the cervical spine (vertebrae in the neck)
·  Sleep with a tall stack of pillows that causes your neck to bend unnaturally.



Driving car
·  Use back support (lumbar roll) at lower curve of your back
·  Move the seat closer to the steering wheel, close enough to allow knees to bend and feet to reach the pedals.
·  Reach for things behind sitting in the driving seat         


Lifestyle tips:
  • Keeping your weight down can do wonders for improving your posture
  • Exercise can strengthen muscles which help hold your body in the correct position
  • Drink a lot of water
  • Proper nutrition remains important to maintain the health of your discs.

Although at first you might feel wooden or stiff but slowly by practicing good posture tips will make your posture feel natural.

And don't forget to say to yourself 'STAY TALL'.


SOURCES:
American Chiropractic Association. Tips to Maintain Good Posture.
North American Spine Society. 10 Tips for a Healthy Back.
www.livestrong.com
www.familydoctor.org
www.backrelief.ca
www.spine-health.com
www.emedicinehealth.com
www.mayoclinic.com


This information provided is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.