Poor posture can flatten or strain the natural curves in your body, causing severe health problems and chronic pain. Unfortunately, because of the time office workers spend sitting at their desk, poor posture is becoming increasingly common.
Posture allows you to hold your body while standing, sitting, or lying down. Good posture entails training your body to sit, stand, walk, and lie in a way that applies the least amount of strain on your muscles and ligaments while you’re moving or performing weight-bearing tasks. Here’s why good posture is essential for your health and six exercises that can help you improve it.
Why is Good Posture Crucial?
According to Karen Erickson, a chiropractor in New York City, good posture lines up the bones on top of each other like children’s blocks, carrying bodyweight. Also, good posture enables your bones to support your weight, allowing your muscles to work less. Poor posture overworks the muscles.
According to Erickson, poor posture can cause:
- Back and neck pain
- Excessive wear and tear on the discs and joints, which may facilitate the onset of arthritis.
- Reduced flexibility
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Breathing problems
Excessive wear and tear on your discs and joints in the spine can cause the spine to deteriorate. According to orthopedists, spine deterioration can compress the nerves or spinal cord, causing tingling, numbness, or burning in the hands and feet.
What are Common Posture Mistakes?
Poor posture is common and here are some activities that can increase the risk of developing bad posture. This includes:
Too Much Sitting
Spending extended periods seated stresses the natural forward curve in the thoracic spine. This closes down your rib cage and lungs, making it hard to take deep breaths.
A study that was conducted in 2018 on a small group of healthy men shows that poor posture with the head tilted forward, sticking beyond the shoulders, or with the head tilted to one side reduces respiratory function.
Standing with Your Bottom Sticking Out
If your bottom sticks out while you’re standing, or if you have a curve in your lower back, you may have hyper-lordosis. This is an exaggerated inward curvature of the back that causes a “Donald Duck” posture.
To correct your standing posture, keep your neck straight and shoulders parallel with your hips. To align your body perfectly and maintain your spine’s natural curvature:
- Relax your shoulders and back
- Pull in your abdomen
- Maintain your feet hip-distance apart and distribute your weight equally on both feet
- Straighten your legs and keep your back relaxed.
Standing with a Flat Back
Often, this posture mistake is caused by muscle imbalances, encouraging you to adopt such a posture. Also, sitting for extended periods can cause a flat back. A flat back forces you to lean your neck and head forward, causing neck and upper back strain.
To correct a flat back, do exercises that strengthen your buttocks, core, neck and back shoulder muscles, and back extensions.
6 Exercises to Correct Poor Posture
These six exercises can counteract the effects of poor posture, allowing your body to find equilibrium again. It’s crucial to note that the longer you maintain a bad posture, the more your muscles learn that posture, and it becomes hard to correct it.
Do each of these exercises at least 10 times, once a day. You may see some improvements in a few days, however, because these exercises build the muscles back up, it may take a few weeks to see noticeable improvements.
1. Backward Bend
While standing, place your hands behind your back, at the top of your bottom. With your feet shoulder-width apart, and your toes slightly turned out, bend your head, shoulders, and back backward. Hold for 20 seconds and then return to the original position slowly.
2. Doorway Chest Stretch
Stand at the door with your forearms on the doorway and your back straight. Step through the door; do this until you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold this position for 15-20 seconds.
3. Forward Fold Stretch
This standing stretch releases stress in your hamstrings, glutes, and spine. Also, it stretches your hips and legs. When doing this stretch you should feel the entire backside of your body lengthening and opening up.
While standing, let your big toes touch and keep your heels slightly apart. Bring your hands to your hips and fold your body forward at your hips. Place your hands on a block or release them toward the floor. Let your hands go as far as they can—don’t worry if they don’t touch the floor. With your knees bent slightly, soften your hip joints, allowing your spine to lengthen. Tuck your chin into your chest and let your head hang towards the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
4. Standing Chest Stretch
While standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, interlock your fingers behind your back, with your palms facing upwards. Move your shoulders back and forth, keep your arms straight, and don’t arch your back. Hold this position until you feel a stretch across your chest and shoulders.
Lie on your stomach and keep your hands on the ground under your shoulders. Push up as you attempt to straighten your elbows, arching your back gently. With your hips and legs on the ground, use your arms to hold yourself up. Then lower your back down.
6. Neck Presses Stretches
Neck presses involve a trio of exercises, which use resistance to strengthen your neck. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.
- With your palm pressed against your forehead, use your neck muscles to push against it.
- Press your palm against your temple and push it away from your palm. Repeat this on both sides.
- Place both hands behind your head and press back into your hands. Slouching over your desk or looking down to text causes you to lose muscle balance in the front and back of your neck, so this exercise is crucial.
It’s helpful to sit less because too much sitting can harm your posture. Also, be mindful of your posture and take steps to correct it. To spend less time sitting:
- Use a standing desk
- Have standing meetings at work
- Stand or pace when answering phone calls
And if you have to sit, make sure your office chair has good lumbar support. Keep your heels under your knees, not tucked under your office chair, and bend your hips at a 90-degree angle. Also, keep your screen at eye level and your keyboard at elbow level. Preferably, let your elbows drop to your side.
The six exercises above are basic, but they’re a good starting point to help you improve your posture. If this doesn’t help, seek advice from a skilled medical professional.
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