5 Ways to Improve Posture
Did your mother ever tell you to sit up or stand up straight? Ever wonder why? Because…posture.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, posture is how we hold our bodies while sitting, standing, or lying down. Without posture, we would just crumple to the ground. Thankfully, the muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons in the back naturally maintain our posture to keep us upright…or from falling out of bed.
The ACA says that good posture “is the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity.” This puts the least amount of strain on the skeletal and muscular systems through correct usage of muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. Good posture can help reduce our chances of the following:
- Degenerative arthritis
- Joint pain
- Muscle strain and vertebral subluxations
- Back and muscular pain
How to Get Good Posture
Achieving good posture requires more than just “sitting up straight.” Because of our modern environment of travelling in cars, sitting at desks all day, bending over tables or computers, and sitting in overstuffed chairs with little to no lumbar support, our lives discourages unconscious good posture. But there are ways to achieve it.
Yoga for Body Awareness
While exercise, in general, is good for the overall body and posture, yoga takes body awareness to a higher level. Practicing yoga focuses on body placement and posture and encourages the stretches and exercises that bring that awareness to the fore. It also helps you align your skeletal structure vertically. According to The Yoga Journal, “when you’re standing, your ears should be over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, and your hips over your knees and ankles. When any body part falls out of that vertical line, the adjacent support muscles will feel the strain.”
To help with posture, try enrolling in a yoga class. Poses such as Tadasana (Mountain Pose) help encourage natural spinal alignment, making you feel taller and balanced.
Office Ergonomics for Healthier Working
Setting up proper office ergonomics makes for a healthier…and more productive…work environment. When sitting, use a chair with good lumbar support to discourage slouching. Keep the computer monitor or screen at eye level to prevent looking down or pushing the neck forward. Also, sit with your ankles uncrossed, your feet flat on the floor, and your ankles in front of your knees; this helps prevent further subluxation issues in the hips.
If standing, keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Roll the shoulders back and lift the chest; this should cause your arms to rest naturally at your side. Keep the knees unlocked to prevent knee joint damage. Rest your weight on the balls of your feet and rock between your heels and the balls of your feet occasionally to help adjust your body’s alignment.
Keep that computer monitor at eye level, though. That’s important for avoiding cervical subluxations, headaches, and neck pain.
For jobs that require repetitive movement or regular bending, take breaks and be sure to stretch regularly. This helps prevent muscle and skeletal strain, which can lead to injury.
Your Exercise Ball and You… It’s Not just for the Gym
Invest in an exercise ball…better yet, invest in two (one for the office and one for home). Shop around for the right ball. They now come in different sizes to accommodate different heights, so read the instructions on the container to make sure you get the one that works for your height.
Using an exercise ball encourages the body to maintain proper core muscle contraction, which makes it a great tool for the gym. But maintaining core muscle contraction also helps with posture, so sitting on an exercise ball at work or home allows you to get exercise and increase your spinal health.
Braces and Surgery for Posture
Both chiropractors and surgeons may recommend braces to help promote healthy posture, usually after an injury or surgery. Sometimes, surgery to repair spinal injuries or damage may be unavoidable. In that case, often your surgeon will have you wear a brace to help with posture. The common braces include:
- Rigid brace – Made from bulky materials, this brace commonly provides support after an injury or surgery. They maintain stability and posture.
- Corset brace – Made from softer materials such as cloth, this brace provides support to the middle and lower back after a spinal fusion surgery. It limits motion while helping maintain good posture.
- Sacroiliac belt – Made from elastic material, so it molds to the body, this belt wraps around the hips and supports the sacrum and lower back to help relieve pain.
Even when surgery isn’t needed, you should use an occupational belt to protect the back and prevent injury when lifting heavy objects or participating in strenuous activity. This belt also helps maintain good posture.
Chiropractic Care for Good Posture
One of the best ways to maintain good posture, however, is to work with your chiropractor on a solid plan to improve your posture. With regular adjustments, your chiropractor can realign the subluxations to help prevent injury and promote healing.
Your chiropractor can also give you exercises to increase core and postural muscle strength as well as recommendations on proper posture for different aspects of life. Finally, with regularly scheduled massages, you can put your body on the track to good posture and optimum wellness.