Your body posture isn’t just about how you look in the eyes of other people. It has major effects on your long-term spinal health and physical well-being. If you want to reduce or prevent back pain, lower your risk of injury, and place less stress on your body, then fixing your posture is an essential first step.
The Connection Between Bad Posture and Back Pain
Poor posture brings its own host of negative effects. For starters, slumping, slouching, or otherwise having an unnatural and uncomfortable body position throws your musculoskeletal system out of alignment. As you can guess, poor spinal alignment is a common cause of back pain.
Additionally, bad posture habits can put extra stress on your spinal column, leaving you vulnerable to neck strain and low-back pain, as well as poor shoulder health. This is also true if your posture throws off your balance.
Apart from increasing your odds of experiencing back pain, bad posture also limits your bodily flexibility. Poor posture can limit your range of motion, contribute to muscle tightness and muscle tension, and increase your chances of injury, especially when performing vigorous activities such as sports, outdoor games, and similar recreational activities.
Finally, bad posture throws off your gait (i.e. how you walk, run, or otherwise move) and makes it much likelier that you will experience a fall. And if there’s anything that can make an otherwise healthy person start experiencing chronic or even acute back pain, it’s a bad fall.
What Does Good Posture Look Like?
Fortunately, achieving and maintaining a healthy posture isn’t rocket science. There are a few basic principles to observe as you go about your everyday activities. For example, whether you are sitting or standing, you should try to maintain the natural curve of your back and the natural alignment of your spine and limbs. Both over-rigid uprightness and slouching can contribute to poor posture.
Another thing to remember is the image of a straight line. When you are standing upright, imagine that someone could draw a plumb line from your head and neck to your shoulders, then down to your hips, knees, and feet. Likewise, there should be a straight line between your feet and knees and between your head, neck, shoulders, and hips while sitting.
Good Posture While Sitting
Whether you work at a desk job or enjoy sitting around at home, there are some things to remember to have a comfortable sitting position.
As mentioned above, your shoulders and back should be relatively straight when you’re seated. If you spend even a few hours each day sitting (particularly if you work in front of a computer), you’ll probably need to train yourself to keep your shoulders pulled back rather than hunched forward.
Instead of crossing your legs or even just your ankles, place your feet flat on the floor and in alignment with your legs, so that the inside creases of your knees form a 90-degree ankle. There should also be a right angle at the crease of your elbows. When you reach forward to type on a computer keyboard or rest your hands on a table, keep your forearms parallel to the floor.
Finally, make sure your head and neck are properly aligned by remembering to keep your ears parallel to your collarbone. Doing this will prevent you from craning your head forward, which is a temptation when gazing at a screen.
Good Posture While Standing
There is a significant overlap between proper sitting posture and healthy standing posture. Keep your major joints in alignment and roughly parallel with each other.
One tip to make sure your shoulders are in proper alignment is to take note of the direction the back of your hands are facing when you drop your arms to your sides. If the backs of your hands are pointed roughly out to the side, then your shoulders are far enough back. However, if the backs of your hands face in front of you, then you need to pull your shoulders backward.
As for your feet, they should be flat on the floor and positioned about as far apart as the width of your shoulders. Distribute your weight fairly evenly across the bottom of your feet, though with more weight on the balls of your feet than on the heels.
Exercises to Improve Posture
Apart from actively maintaining correct posture over time throughout the day, you can protect your lower back by strengthening your back and creating strong core muscles. Here are some simple exercises you can perform throughout the day for better posture:
- Pec/shoulder stretch. Stand next to a pillar or door frame and hold your arm up so that your forearm is pointed upward and your upper arm is straight out and parallel to the floor. Your elbow should form a 90-degree angle. Place your upraised forearm against the doorframe, then slowly rotate your torso until you feel a stretch in your chest muscles. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then repeat on your other side.
- Shoulder blade squeeze. While sitting upright in a chair, place your hands on your thighs and stare straight ahead. Gently pull your shoulders back until you feel a squeeze in your shoulder blades and deltoid muscles. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then relax to the starting position and repeat for a total of three sets.
- Glute bridges. Lie on your back, keeping your feet flat and your knees bent at a roughly 45-degree angle. Use your abdominal muscles and your buttocks to raise your hips toward the ceiling. Enlist your core and buttocks muscles to hold the bridge for a couple of seconds, then slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat for a total of 10 reps. Do 2-3 sets total, depending on muscle fatigue.
Contact Cornerstone Chiropractic Today to Schedule an Appointment
If you’ve been struggling with low-back pain or neck pain as a result of poor posture, then you need the gentle, non-invasive chiropractic care that Cornerstone Chiropractic can provide!
Our neurological-based chiropractic care focuses on your overall wellness and long-term health. Give us a call or make an appointment online to start living pain-free!