You probably remember as a child being told to “Stop slouching in your chair!” and to “Stand up straight!” At the time it was irritating, but all those years later you’re starting to realise the importance of a good posture. Poor sitting and standing habits can cause muscle tension and over time, create discomfort and chronic pain illnesses. Bad posture takes a toll on the whole of your body – your spine, neck, shoulders, hips and knees. Actively maintaining a good posture and trying to correct common habits can really help long term health.
Regardless of age and lifestyle, there are various ways to maintain a good posture and it’s never too late to correct those bad habits.
Expert tips for maintaining good posture
Improve sitting posture
If you sit down a lot at work, then it’s critical that you have an assessment to ensure your equipment is set up as ergonomically as possible. Know how to adjust your seat and screen at the office to make sure you’re comfortable. Always try and sit up straight, and be sure that you’re not having to look up or down too much – your computer should be on level with your eyes. Never slump in your chair, as this puts pressure on muscles and soft tissues.
Improve standing posture
It’s not just sitting for long periods of time which can cause bad posture – it’s important to focus on your standing posture too. You should always even out the weight between both feet, rather than leaning into one hip. While this may feel comfortable, it actually puts excess pressure on one side of the lower back. You can also have uneven hips if you always carry a bag on one side – always try and distribute weight evenly.
There are a number of specific exercises and stretches you can do which work to strengthen the core and improve posture. A strong core helps you stand up straighter, address muscle weakness and maintain a good posture. Pilates and yoga include great core exercises which help to strengthen the core and lower back. They also increase body awareness so you’ll start to notice when something isn’t right with your spine.
If you are suffering from neck or back pain it might be too late for these postural corrections. If you’ve tried these exercises and changed your sitting position but it hasn’t helped, you should see a back specialist such as a chiropractor who can perform manual therapy.