Posture is important to the overall health of your spine and to prevent back injury… but so many of us have poor posture! Below are some tips for better posture that will help you correct your posture and maintain it moving forward.
1. Find Your Perfect Posture
In order to ensure that your performing activities with the proper posture, you first have to find out what your perfect posture is. Everybody is different, so what works for someone else, might not necessarily work for you.
First, stand against the wall with your feet hip-width apart. Place your head, back, butt, and shoulders against the wall and square your heels so that they are directly below your ankles NOT your butt. They should be about six inches from the wall.
It’s common for people to stand with their feet back farther than they should be which causes the back to over-arch to compensate for balance. Check where your feet are. It may feel uncomfortable or weird at first, but this is your proper posture and you should aim to maintain this proper posture while walking, standing, and doing any activity.
2. Beware of Angles
Sitting for hours a day in a chair wreaks havoc on your back and spine, and it’s where most of us develop our poor posture habits. We tend to slouch over our desks or sit too low, causing our arms to have to reach up, and then our shoulders and upper back become strained.
The diagram below shows how to properly sit in a chair to reduce back pain and maintain proper posture.
Elbows are at a 90-degree angle with the desk and feet are flat on the floor. There is no rotation or bend in the neck.
You should have a computer that is at a comfortable height so that you do not have to bend your neck down to see the screen. If your computer is too low, consider investing in a monitor stand that is ergonomically designed to position your computer at an optimal level.
The top of your chair should hit at the lower point between your shoulder blades and should have armrests that support your full forearm comfortably… Check out our Six Tips to Choosing an Office Chair for more help.
3. Stand Up Straight
How many of you slouch when standing? Favour one leg over the other? Shift your weight to one side, or back and forth?
Would it surprise you to know that the majority of your weight when you stand should be on the balls of your feet?
The diagram below shows the proper technique for standing to maintain proper posture:
Your butt should be forward and hips directly over your ankles, NOT your toes. Your weight should be evenly distributed from left to right – check to make sure that you are not jutting your hips out on either side.
You should feel an engagement of your core muscles that let you know your back is in proper alignment. Your neck and shoulders should feel relaxed but engaged. If you do not feel your core muscles engaged, go back to Figure One and find your proper posture again.
When you walk, you should rotate your hip flexors with your legs and use the balls of your feet to carry your weight and push off each stride.
Below are some examples of poor posture:
Try each of these “poor” postures and make the necessary adjustments to correct them so you can get a feel of the different variations from a bad posture to a good posture. Some of them are very small changes that aren’t even noticeable to the naked eye.
4. Stretch it Out
Yoga is a fantastic way to improve your overall health and your posture and circulation. From beginner to advanced, there is a level of yoga for everybody and enough variations to keep you on your toes and not bored.
Aside from yoga, there are a few stretches you can do at home that will help maintain proper posture. Two that we really like are the spinal extension and cat/cow.
For spinal extension, lie on your stomach with your hands next to your chest and your elbows bent at a 45-degree angle. Lift your head and chest off the floor and arch your back, like a cobra. Keep your neck and jaw soft and your gaze straight ahead – do not look up or down. Breathe deeply as you deepen the arch in your back and try to keep your hands barely touching the floor – you want to bend to come from your back and core muscles. Do 10 reps.
For cat cow, get on your hands and knees and alternate between curling your spine in (like a cat hissing) and arching your back up (like a cow). Breathe in on cow and out on cat and deepen the bend each time. Do 20 reps.
Most daily activities that strengthen your core and back are great for your posture as well.
5. Strengthen Your Core
Strengthening your core is critical to maintaining proper posture. Your workouts should focus more on core stabilizing exercises that involve balance and extension over traditional crunches as those don’t improve your overall core muscles.
Look for exercises that involve twisting, bending, and extension of the spine and back.
If you’re looking for more help on developing a proper posture or are experiencing back pain that is interrupting your daily life, it may be time to talk to a chiropractor. Call us today for a FREE consultation.