BLOG 1: Sit up straight, or else…

Sit up straight! Many of us grew up hearing this phrase…this is a tenet of posture that many of our mothers understood.

You don’t have to be a doctor to know that sitting up straight, sleeping in a neutral position, and lifting heavy objects correctly will all reduce your risk of pain and injury.

Sitting in a slouched position or not standing up straight are habits that we all know affect our health with potentially very negative effects.

Pain and discomfort aren’t the only symptoms that can result from poor posture. Decreased flexibility in our muscles, poor balance (leading to falls) and reduced breathing capacity are other consequences that can occur in people who have poor posture.

There are two types of posture:

  1. Static posture: how we maintain ourselves when we are NOT moving, standing, sitting and sleeping.
  2. Dynamic posture: how we move when we walk, run or crouch.

Posture affects our health in many ways, some of the most common are:

  • Misalignments of your musculoskeletal system (muscles, bones, and joints)
  • Degeneration of the spine and joints (arthritis)
  • Neck, shoulder and back pain
  • Makes it harder to breathe
  • Difficulty digesting
  • Reduced flexibility
  • Poor balance which can increase the risk of falls

On the contrary, proper posture and ergonomics can contribute to a healthier lifestyle by giving you benefits such as:

  • Boost in energy
  • Decreased levels of pain and discomfort
  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Increased lung capacity and breathing
  • Increased immune response
  • Decreased degeneration of associated muscles, tendons and ligaments

You must be asking yourself this question: how can I improve my posture?

Especially today, where technology in the form of phones, tablets and computers are so ubiquitous, it can be all too common for children as young as three to have poor posture.

Hunching the shoulders forward and tilting the head down are some of the most common ways poor posture manifests itself. This must be avoided. But how? Here are 3 tips that can help you:

  1. Be aware of your posture.

    Begin to focus your energy and attention on how your body is positioned in space. Ask someone close to help remind you when your posture is not optimal.
  2. Wear comfortable shoes with a low heel.

    Unfortunately, high heels and cowboy boots don’t support the natural arches of our feet, lower back, and neck. The result, over time, is increased tension and pain in our bodies.
  3. Lead a more active lifestyle.

    Exercises that aim to stretch the chest and strengthen the upper/mid back will help keep the shoulders back and the head up.

    You can also start your exercise routine by walking for 20 to 30 minutes every day at a brisk pace with your abdominal muscles contracted and your chest up.
  4. Keep on moving.

    The longer you sit in one place or stand in the same position, the more tired your muscles will be and the worse your posture will be.

    If you stand for long periods of time, prop your leg up on a box or stool and be sure to change positions frequently.

    If you sit all day at a desk or machine, try to get up and walk around at least every 90 minutes.
  5. Don’t sleep on a soft mattress.

    Hard mattresses serve our spine better.

    Try placing a small towel or pillow to support your neck, place a towel or pillow under your knees if you sleep on your back; if you sleep on your side, place your pillow between your knees for an optimal, neutral sleeping posture.

Remember to hold your phone and reading materials at eye level and if you have concerns about your posture, visit a chiropractor who can evaluate your posture and provide you with proper recommendations.

*Chiropractors are physicians who have undergone extensive clinical and classroom studies to assess posture, gait, and biomechanics. The care provided by doctors of chiropractic is crucial in improving proper joint mechanics and posture practices. Spinal adjustments help increase joint mobility, helping the young and old alike to improve their posture.

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