How are you sitting or standing right at this moment? If you are like most people, you’re probably hunched over or favoring one leg over the other. Sitting in a hunched position, or shifting your weight from leg-to-leg causes the spine is compromised which leads to poor posture.
How does poor posture affect your health?
Chronic poor posture causes low back pain. Changing your posture by sitting or standing up straight will instantly take a load of stress and strain off your lower back.
When your head is directly over your neck and shoulders in good posture, the load is evenly distributed and supported by your neck, shoulders, and lower back. If your head weighs 10lbs, every inch of forward lean from your head increases the load on your spine by 10lbs. Therefore, having poor posture is like forcing your spine to support a bowling ball that is constantly pulling on your spine.
If you are sitting in a curved or slumped position, think of all the strain your lower back is fighting against! This can lead to a whole host of potential problems.
Problems caused by poor posture:
- Abnormal wearing of joints (leading to arthritis)
- Spine can become fixed in abnormal positions (think hunchback)
- Digestive problems
- Breathing problems
- Circulation and blood pressure issues
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Unnecessary pressure on pain-sensitive nerves and tissues
Change your posture for life with these 5 steps
Good posture starts with both an awareness of your current body position and a desire to change your posture. Achieving good posture means training your body to put the least amount of strain on your supporting muscles, ligaments, and joints.
Step 1: Find your back’s “happy back position” by sitting or standing upright until your spine is in neutral position. There should be a slight natural curve in your lower back.
Step 2: Contract your body’s inner core, by drawing your belly button in towards your spine. Contract your inner core multiple times during the day.
Step 3: Lift your chest slightly by extending your mid-back.
Step 4: Squeeze your shoulder blades together and down.
Step 5: Lengthen the back of your neck by slightly tucking your chin.
Now take a deep breath and relax your shoulders while maintaining this position. At first, it may feel difficult to maintain good posture for prolonged periods of time. Fear not, it will get easier over time and is definitely worth the health benefits.
Click here to watch Dr. Mark Barnes DPT on 5 Steps to Sitting with Better Posture.