Poor posture can cause chronic discomfort in your back, shoulders, neck and hips. Over time this may also contribute to other health problems like stress, muscle weakness and imbalance.
Fortunately, there are ways to improve your posture and avoid back pain. This article will provide several strategies that can help you minimize these discomforts.
1. Sit up straight.
Good posture is essential for your overall wellbeing, so take time out of your day to improve your standing, sitting and walking positions. Doing so can help avoid pain, injuries and other issues in the future.
Slumping can become an habitual occurrence without awareness, making it difficult to correct your position when involuntarily.
Slouching puts your shoulders in a forward-facing position, exaggerating the curve of your upper spine and pulling your head into an unhealthy tilt. This leads to back and neck discomfort as well as reduced lung capacity.
Sitting upright requires aligning your hips and knees at a 90-degree angle with the floor. If your chair is too low, try sitting on a pillow for support in your lower back.
2. Keep your shoulders back.
The shoulders and upper back are muscles in your body that support and stabilize your head when upright. They also assist you when moving, so keeping these areas straight and aligned can reduce back pain.
If your shoulders are rounded, this can cause a variety of problems with posture and increase the risk for neck pain and shoulder blade pain.
There are a few ways to address this issue. The first step is improving your posture.
Exercise your upper back and shoulder muscles by rowing exercises. Rowing will strengthen the backs of your shoulders and encourage scapula retraction (shoulder blades pointing toward the center of the back).
Another way to help keep your shoulders back is by stretching the pectoralis major and minor muscles in your chest. Doing this will help pull on the shoulders and head, providing additional support.
3. Keep your back straight.
Poor posture can have a major impact on your back, neck, shoulders, knees and hips. It puts undue strain on bones, muscles and joints which in turn may cause pain in the back or neck region according to NIH research.
According to Christopher Wolf, M.D., when you sit, try your best to maintain your spine in a straight position. Doing so can prevent slouching which can cause lower back pain and stiffness in the upper body.
While seated, you can maintain proper posture by using a small towel or commercial product behind your back. Additionally, regular exercises will strengthen your core muscles which support the entire body and can improve posture.
4. Keep your head up.
One of the best ways to prevent back pain is keeping your head up. This will help maintain proper posture, which in turn reduces stress and strain on your spine. To achieve this goal, take a few minutes each day to consciously adjust your posture.
There are several ways to manage your back pain, from adding stretches into your daily routine to altering your workspace for the better. To make it a habit, set yourself an alert and reward yourself when you do so frequently enough that it becomes second nature. You will be amazed at how much less discomfort you experience over time! For further assistance on managing back pain, speak with your doctor or visit Mather Hospital website for further advice.
5. Keep your chest open.
Spending a lot of time sitting or standing can cause your chest to tighten up. This may lead to forward head and shoulder posture, which could result in back pain.
If this occurs, a chest opener stretch can help alleviate the effect by opening up your front body for more confident posture. These exercises can be done anytime of the day and help open up your chest area for improved airflow and increased comfort in daily activities.
To perform the chest opener, stand tall with feet hip-distance apart and relax your shoulders. Next, reach both arms behind your back and interlace them.
6. Keep your hips level.
Maintaining your hips at a level position is one of the most essential keys to improving posture and avoiding back pain. It also plays an integral role when doing physical activities such as running or other aerobic exercises.
Your hips are vital joints that support and transfer weight to your lower limbs, giving you the power to walk, run and jump. They provide support for every movement you make throughout the day.
To check that your hips are aligned correctly, you can do a quick test at home. Grab some string, shoelace or workout band and hold one end in each hand.
7. Keep your feet flat on the ground.
Cordelia Carter, MD, orthopedic surgeon and director of the Center for Women’s Sports Health at NYU Langone Health, recommends keeping your feet flat on the ground to reduce back pain. “People often hunch over while sitting,” which alters their spine’s alignment,” according to Dr. Cordelia Carter.
But it’s also essential to stand tall, according to Michael Griffith, a certified personal trainer at P.volve in New York City. Standing with your shoulders tucked in, back straight and core engaged can help improve posture and reduce the likelihood of back pain, according to Griffith.
Strang recommends strengthening your core, pelvis and back muscles with exercises like Pilates, yoga or barre workouts. These activities focus on strengthening the abdominal and back muscles that are essential for good posture.
8. Keep your knees slightly bent.
When walking, try to keep your knees slightly bent and shoulders pulled backward. Doing this can reduce forward flexion of your spine, which could result in herniated discs or other health issues.
Your knees are hinge joints, meaning the thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia) move together while supporting the kneecap (patella). Ligaments and tendons connect these bones, while cartilage surrounds them so they can move without rubbing against each other.
Knee pain can be caused by a variety of things, such as arthritis, meniscus tears, bursitis and an abrupt increase in physical activity. To reduce or eliminate this type of discomfort, focus on strengthening the quadriceps (front thigh muscles) and hamstrings (back of thighs muscles).
9. Keep your feet flat on the ground.
According to Evan Breed, master trainer at P.volve – an exercise method that incorporates physical therapy-inspired exercises – the position of your feet is critical for good posture. You should keep them flat on the ground and hip-width apart for best results.
Maintaining flat feet on the ground helps alleviate back pain and corrects a common gait pattern where your weight is placed at the front of your foot.
People with flat feet may experience various health issues, such as muscle spasms and lower back pain. They may also have a lower arch, which causes their foot to roll inward more than usual.
10. Keep your knees slightly bent.
Maintaining a slightly bent knee is one of the most effective ways to improve your posture and prevent back pain. Doing so helps relieve pressure on joints by keeping them aligned with the feet.
Your knee joint is composed of three bones: the lower thighbone (femur), upper shin bone (tibia), and kneecap (patella). Ligaments, tendons, and cartilage attach these bones together to keep it stable.
Knee pain when bending can be caused by any of these structures, including osteoarthritis, meniscus tears, bursitis and ligament strain.