Bad posture not only causes aches and pains but also has a negative impact on your appearance. However, making too much of an effort in straightening the back with chest puffed out and head tilted back is just as bad as slouching. The key to maintaining and promoting good posture is to do it in moderation. Here’s how you can ensure the right posture for your body throughout the day.
Every time you sit, move yourself to the back of the chair as possible and lean back comfortably. Remember that the correct posture is to keep your back straight while maintaining the natural curve of the spine. Avoid crossing your legs as this posture twists your spine and puts pressure on your knee and hips. Sit with your knees a little apart and your feet flat on the floor while maintaining a your legs at a 90-degree angle to your body. Try to find a good trigger which will serve as a reminder to check your posture . This trigger can be every time the phone rings or perhaps an alarm you set to ring every 30 minutes. With this trigger, sitting in the right posture will become a habit soon enough.
Mix It Up
Even in the correct posture, remaining in one position for lengthy periods of time is not advisable as it will cause your muscles to stiffen and bring about body aches. Take regular breaks at work and use this time to take a short walk. You can also do some simple stretching such as reaching your hands up in the air as high as possible followed by bending over and touching your toes. In addition to promoting good posture, these exercises are also a great way to refresh yourself. When seated at your work desk, turn away from the screen regularly and look around. Having your eyes locked on the screen can cause neck strains. During leisure activities such as at the movies or the stadium, moving from your seat may not be a convenient option. Instead, you can simply change the way you sit every half an hour or so – sit forward for some period of time, then lean back.
Lighten The Load
We often find ourselves favouring one side of the body when lugging around stuff like groceries, luggages and laptops. Although it may seem natural, this habit causes muscular imbalance, strain and injury. As much as possible, opt for roller bags or trolleys when moving heavy items. In the case of backpacks, sling them over both shoulders so that the weight is distributed. For single-shoulder bags such as laptop bags and handbags, remember to swap sides often so that the usage of muscles on both sides of the body are evenly distributed. If you must lift heavy objects, remember to bend your knees (not your waist) while keeping your back straight. Pull the object close to you, engaging your core muscles to assist you in lifting it. When placing the heavy object down, lower yourself with your legs and thigh muscles instead of bending your back.
Most people tend to slouch while driving, especially during long drives, causing aches and pains after the drive and bad posture in the long run. When driving, tilt the rear view mirror slightly upwards so that you have to sit up straight to see the cars behind. The curve of car seats can also cause lower back aches so do use a cushion or a lumbar cushion to support your back. Position the car seat so that your legs can comfortably reach the pedals while your knees are at the same level or slightly higher than your hips.
We spend 8 to 10 hours a day in bed so sleeping positions is just as vital to our health. Invest in a firm mattress for maximum support of your body. Avoid sleeping on your tummy as this causes neck strain and unnatural curve of the spine. When sleeping on your side, place a pillow or small cushion between your knees to keep the spine aligned and straight. Pillows for the support of your head and shoulders are to be used in ways which are most comfortable to you. Too many pillows or too flat pillows will both cause your head to be bent in unnatural positions causing stiffness and sore muscles.
Donna L DearJane is a medical practitioner in Sydney Australia. She has transitioned from being a registered nurse to a General Practitioner 5 years ago through additional education.