Poor posture is more common than good posture sadly. We all are guilty of slouching in front of the television on our comfy cushions. We lean against the wall or door frame instead of standing up straight. We swap from hip to hip when standing in a queue. Rarely do any of us actually sit up straight with good support for our back and legs positioned in front of us and the seat at the correct height. We find it almost impossible to stand directly on our feet, weight evenly distributed, with our shoulders back, tummy in and “tail” tucked under.
Even as I write this I am conscious of sitting at a table that is slightly too high, on a chair that is slightly too hard and too low and my legs are crossed so that more of weight is on my right side!!! However I do have good posture, my mother ensured that from when I was quiet young – she would stand me against the wall so that my back was straight with my shoulders touching the wall, chin parallel with the floor and then I had to step away from the wall and maintain that position. Yes I slouch on the sofa, yes my current position is “awful” but every few minutes I give myself a shake and sit up properly or get up and walk around to “iron out the creases” I have just put in my back, neck and shoulders. Regular stretching and being aware of poor posture is a good start to improving things.
Take a good look at your mattress, honestly how long have you had it? Do you turn it – have you ever turned it? Some mattresses – like Tempur – can only be turned top to bottom and not turned over so check what your mattress allows you to do.
Remember you have a neck. This may sound a bit of strange thing to say but many of us will be engrossed in the computer or a book and we become hunched and our chin sinks towards our chest and before we know it our neck has disappeared and we have a become just a head on shoulders! (I bet you just had a good think about your posture now you have just read this and given your neck a good stretch.)
Be aware of your posture when you are driving. Many a client has come to see me with lower back pain and a combination of massage and adjusting the seat in the car has resulted in pain free happy client. Check to see if you are too close or too far from the pedals and steering wheel. Are you stretching your legs, feet and arms to reach them? Are you actually using the back of the seat to support the whole of your spine from your head right down to the lower part. There seems to be a “fashion” for youngsters to lie back in the seat so they are almost horizontal when driving. Apart from restricting your view of the road and looking pretty daft (no not cool at all) this position is doing nothing positive for your back as you are straining your neck to be able to see out of the windscreen and mirrors and also your arms are at full stretch and straining all the muscles and fibres from fingers right up to shoulders.
Yoga is very good for improving posture, Pilates helps improve core strength and there are simple exercises that strengthen the muscles across your upper back and shoulders that will help you to maintain good posture. You don’t need to develop a body builder physique—–it’s more important to build “muscle memory” so that you unconsciously and naturally maintain correct posture without fatigue. Try the following, with or without hand weights:
- Square your posture, head upright, so that your ears are aligned over your shoulders.
- Raise both arms straight out, alongside your ears, palms up.
- Bend forearms in and back, toward shoulders, in an effort to touch your shoulder blades with your fingertips.
- Do ten repetitions with both arms, then alternate ten reps for each arm singularly.
- Align ears with shoulders as in Exercise One.
- Raise both arms out to sides at shoulder height, and hold for a slow count of ten.
- Slowly lower arms to sides, counting ten as you lower.
- Slowly raise arms back to shoulder height, counting to ten as you raise arms.
- Do ten reps, constantly checking your alignment with each rep. If ten reps are too many to start, do as many as you can. You should at least feel a slight fatigue in the shoulder muscles.
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