Stand up straight! The advice our fathers gave us growing up still holds true today. Research has proven that good posture creates confidence, makes us appear more attractive to the opposite sex and promotes better breathing. We also will prevent many common lower back and neck injuries.
Here are 8 tips to keep you standing tall at any age.
We all spend too much time slumped over our desk and leaning into our computers/phones. I am doing right now! Ideally we should not sit in the same position for more than 30 minutes and take frequent breaks that involve walking, drinking water and a good stretch.
Try this one:
Stand up and puff out your chest while pinching your shoulder blades together. With your elbows bent to 90 degrees to Rotate both your arms outwards to emphasize the stretch. Hold this for a good 30 seconds and repeat daily. To stay limber, try to get up for a couple minutes every half hour and stretch, walk, or stand.
2) Sit Properly
Having an ergonomic desk setup is very important to this tip. But even if you have the worst desk set up imaginable, sitting upright with your back against your chair can make a big difference. I often see people with great office chairs working from the front edge of the chair and can never understand why they do not sit back. Remember when sitting down, have your butt hit the back of the chair and use the built in back support.
3) Adjust your Car Seat
Today, car seats and head rests are built with posture in mind but nobody seems to take advantage of this. Patients I see with long commutes are often worst after even short drives despite having very comfortable seats.
Your headrest should come up to the center of your head. The angle should be parallel with your neck and head. Adjust your mirrors to make it easy to see the road without having to put your neck in a painful position. Same goes for the car lumbar support, make sure you have it pumped up to a comfortable level that will keep your natural curve. Sit back in your seat, not at the edge. Slide the seat so that you are a comfortable distance from the peddles where you are not stretching to reach them and also not close enough that your knees are hitting the steering wheel.
4) Core Stability and Strength
It has been proven over and over that our abdominal muscles have a great impact on overall spinal stability. Weak core muscles cause the lumbar spine to fatigue faster and increases injury risk exponentially. Any exercise routine needs to focus on the core, make sure you are spending time doing planks, stability crunches and consistently changing your routine to challenge your stability. Pilates and yoga do a great job of this.
5) Challenge your balance
Speaking more to the above point, challenging your stability is very important. If you stick with the same routine your body will become complacent. Walk on sand or any safe uneven surface and use a balance or wobble board. Try a workout with shoes that have a thin sole from time to time to give your feet and body better biofeedback, this can help improve you overall quality of movement.
6) Lift weights
There is no need to go crazy with this but we need to ensure we are getting some sort of weight bearing exercise to facilitate healthy bone growth. We can all take a look at our grandparents and realize that we shrink! This is often caused by weak bones, unhealthy discs and vertebral compression fractures in the spine. Weight bearing exercise will keep your bones healthy longer. It is important to note that light weight is OK, do not feel compelled to lift more than you can handle. When lifting weight the most important thing is posture and form, otherwise your injury prevention strategy can turn into your injury promotion strategy.
7) Change Your Pillows and Mattress
We spend a lot of time in bed; your pillow can be a huge factor in your posture, supporting your head while you sleep. This is so important I think I will dedicate an entire future post to sleeping but the most important tip is to choose a pillow that provides you with a good balance of support and comfort help with essay. Back sleepers can get away with a medium support while I find side sleepers do best with firm pillows. Generally speaking, if your pillows are more than 2 years old, you likely need a new one. If you have an old mattress, you can easily extend the life and comfort by adding on a memory foam topper.
8) Ask for Help!
See a professional, such as a chiropractor, massage therapist or physiotherapist who specializes in improving posture using a proven science-based approach. Health practitioners have a wealth of information and it is important that you get advice that is specifically tailored to your lifestyle and your condition. Conveniently, we offer services in both Milton and Burlington to keep our patients happy, healthy and in great posture! Call for an appointment today.
Dr. Anil Kaushal