Insight Neuro Chiropractic Center – We’re all guilty of slouching from time to time. But if you spend your days in front of a computer at work or find yourself regularly staring down at your smartphone, your posture could be negatively impacting your health. Bad posture is one of the most common causes of back pain, spinal dysfunction, and joint degeneration. It can also contribute to a wide range of other health problems, including headaches, respiratory conditions, and balance issues. It may not seem like a big deal, but over time your body can become used to being in a slouched or hunched position, making it easy to continue that posture in every aspect of your life. The good news is it’s not too late to kick bad posture habits and start seeing improvements. Here are 12 tips and exercises to improve posture and relieve lower back pain.
What is Good Posture, and Why Does It Matter?
Hearing the phrase “good posture” often evokes images of soldiers standing at attention or antiquated etiquette rulebooks. But good posture is actually something much more natural – when the body’s structures, joints, muscles, and tissues are all in alignment. According to the National Library of Medicine, there are two types of posture.
Static posture refers to how the body is positioned while sitting, standing, and sleeping. Dynamic posture is when the body is in motion, such as walking or bending over. For optimal spinal health and to avoid pain, injuries, and other health problems, it is important to maintain good static and dynamic posture as often as possible.
Tips and Exercises to Improve Posture and Relieve Lower Back Pain
Although a slouching position might seem more comfortable than sitting upright, it is actually one of the worst things you can do for your spinal health. Not only does it put more pressure on the spine and strain the surrounding bones, muscles, and joints, but it also makes it more difficult for the body to function optimally. Slouching compresses the organs, impeding everything from breathing to digesting food.
Instead, you should make standing or sitting straighter a priority. Start observing how you sit at the dinner table or stand in line at the store and make small improvements to adjust your posture. Also try leaving yourself notes or set reminders on your phone throughout the day to think about how you are positioned. It may be a nuisance at first, but your bad habits will eventually break and good posture will start to come naturally.
Beware of Text Neck
If you have a mobile device, it is likely that you have experienced something called ‘text neck’. This occurs when you tilt your head all the way down to use a smartphone or tablet. Although you may not experience any problems initially, our heads are very heavy and this position puts significant strain on the spine. Over time, text neck can lead to serious problems such as chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain, headaches, and permanent arthritic damage. It can even impact how children grow and develop. Fortunately, text neck is easy to prevent.
Next time you go to send a text or watch a video on your phone, make an effort to sit straight and hold your device directly in front of you so the screen is in alignment with your head in an upright position.
Make Changes At Work
Sitting at a desk all day takes a toll on our bodies in many ways. From poorly designed rolling chairs and hunching over a keyboard for hours at a time to the sedentary nature of office work, it’s not uncommon to experience regular neck or back pain when you work in an office.
To prevent poor posture while working, there are a number of things you can do. At your desk, make sure your computer screen is aligned at eye level and sit back in your chair as far as possible in a straight position with both feet on the floor. Avoid crossing your legs, which can shift your pelvic alignment.
If it’s possible, invest in an ergonomic chair to help you maintain a comfortable, neutral position throughout the day. It’s also important to avoid sitting for too long. Breaks every 30 minutes to stand up, stretch, and take a brief walk will also help you avoid discomfort.
Consider Your Shoes
Your choice of footwear may also impact your posture. Certain shoes that have a raised heel, such as stilettos, put the body in an unnatural position by extending the base of the spine forward. When this occurs, the back over-arches and puts pressure on the spine and nerves, which can result in back pain. Shoes without adequate support, such as flats or flip flops, can also affect your posture.
As a general rule, footwear should be comfortable and not too loose or tight. The ideal shoe will have a moderate heel and adequate cushioning/shock absorption. If you have questions about choosing the right footwear, ask your chiropractor or review these tips from Harvard Health.
Think About How You Sleep
With the average person spending one-third of their lives sleeping, your sleep habits and sleep positions will have a big impact on your posture. Start thinking about your bedroom and what you can do to maintain optimal neck and spinal alignment while you sleep.
Sleeping on your back is the ideal position for natural alignment, allowing for equal weight distribution and fewer readjustment throughout the night. You should also reassess your pillow usage and mattress ergonomics. Sleeping with too many pillows and an unsupportive mattress can cause significant strain and misalignment to the spine.
Make Physical Activity a Priority
Weight gain and lack of physical activity are two other factors that can contribute to poor posture. Even gaining a few extra pounds can limit flexibility and put significant strain on the spine and joints. Any form of exercise can help people improve their posture.
Core exercises in particular benefit the abdominal and back muscles, which support the spine and improve posture. Yoga is highly effective in improving posture and reinforcing good habits like not sitting in a slouched position. Your chiropractor can also provide safe exercises and tips for your particular condition that will help you get into better habits and improve your health and wellbeing. Here are a few simple exercises you can try at home:
6 Home Exercises for Good Posture
Benefits: Core strengthening
Benefits: Strengthens back, pelvis, and legs; improves stability
Benefits: Spine strengthening and increased flexibility
Benefits: Loosens chest muscles
Benefits: Strengthens neck muscles
Benefits: Relaxes neck muscles, improves text neck
Whether it’s hours spent slouching at our desks or text neck from staring down at our phones, poor posture is causing millions of people to experience serious health problems like back and neck pain. But the good news is it is never too late to start being mindful of bad posture habits and begin making changes. For more information about posture and other natural ways to treat back pain, contact the Insight Neuro Chiropractic Center to schedule an appointment.
Q: What are some exercises people can do to improve posture and relieve lower back pain?
A: Core strengthening and stretching are two of the best exercises anyone can do to improve posture. Planks, forward lunges, chin tucks, and shoulder rolls are just a few of the home exercises that will help improve muscle strength and posture.
Q: Can posture be corrected without surgery?
A: Yes. Being mindful of bad posture habits and making lifestyle changes can solve problems with poor posture and help you avoid surgery. Pay attention to how you stand and sit, avoid slouching or slumping positions, and try to stay active and stretch throughout the day.
Q: What are the benefits of good posture?
A: Good posture puts the least amount of strain on the body and offers many benefits, including less back pain, better balance, fewer headaches, and improved breathing and circulation.