Are you currently slouching? Did you sleep on your back last night? Everyone at some point in their life has been told to, “straighten their back,” or “stop slouching!” Getting yourself into the habit of maintaining a great posture can do a lot to improve your health and well-being. The best part about maintaining a good posture is you can practice this everywhere you go. Whether you’re at work, in the car, running errands or on the couch, there is always a way to keep your posture strong.
Good posture helps us keep our bodies aligned to reduce the amount of stress on our ligaments. This minimizes the risk of injury, allows our muscles to work more efficiently and therefore prevents muscle strain and joint pain. Posture can deteriorate over time because of your lifestyle. Tall people may need to slouch more at the dinner table or when speaking to others while shorter people may overstretch to make themselves taller.
There are several ways you can improve your posture during daily activities. The following tips are simple actions that will make you more confident, feel better and improve your overall health.
When walking, or standing remember to stand straight with your shoulders pulled backward. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart with a slight bend to your knees. Focus your weight on the ball of your feet and let your arms hang to your side.
Avoid putting your hands in your pockets as this can lead to slouching over time. Remember you are trying to build better habits. To test it out, try standing with your back against a wall, if your head isn’t touching the wall, then your posture can improve.
According to the (American Chiropractic Association), the sitting position puts tremendous stress on our lower back. Modern humans sit much more than nature intended us to. Humans are meant to be physically active. Many of us can confess to slouching or hunching, especially when having to sit for long periods of time.
To keep from straining your lower back, make sure to sit up with your back straight. Your shoulders and buttocks should always rest against the chair. Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips while resting your elbows and arms on your chair or desk. Use a lumbar roll for extra support. Remember to always take breaks when sitting for long periods. For example, for every hour of sitting, try walking around for 5-10 minutes if possible.
You can also try exploring other methods of sitting down. There are options such as kneeling chairs, using an exercise ball or standing desks.
Sleeping in positions that help maintain the curve of your back are essential to a healthy posture. Lying on your back with a pillow under your knees or on your side with your knees slightly bent greatly reduces the chances of back pain while promoting good posture. Avoid sleeping on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest in a fetal-like position and avoid sleeping on your stomach.
When mattress shopping be sure to look for mattresses that are relatively firm. Firm mattresses provide better support to the body when sleeping. Sleeping on your back on a firm mattress can help improve your posture since the spinal cord is fully supported by the bed and your shoulders are lined up perfectly with your body.
When purchasing pillows, a flat pillow is better when sleeping on your back and a fluffier pillow is better when sleeping on your side. How fluffy and how flat? That is up to you!
These are just a few simple tips to help you improve your posture. Practicing these tips as often as possible can revitalize your body and health. For specific exercises or tips, you should consult with a physical therapist who will analyze your personal habits and work with you to better yourself and your health in the long run.