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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Perfect Your Posture


Standing up straight is only part of the picture: learn how the way you sit, sleep & carry items can keep you pain-free

Poor posture is easy, whereas adapting habits of good posture often requires conscious effort. Most people do not think about their posture until someone brings it to their attention. The benefits of good posture far outweigh the ease of slouchy poor posture.

You could say that poor posture habits have followed trends in society. Children carry huge overloaded backpacks, adults lug briefcases to work & thousands of people spend hours hunched over computers, whether for work or play.

Poor posture is not only habitual, but is also seen in people with low self-esteem, degenerative problems affecting the spine, pain-causing muscle guarding & obesity.

Change takes willpower. However, the rewards of good posture are well worth the effort. You will feel great; your physical appearance will look tall & confident.

The body is straight, but not robotic. The appearance is relaxed, as the ears, shoulders, hips, knees & ankles align in one straight line. If you hung an imaginary plumb line from the earlobe, the line would hang straight through the middle of the anklebone. Good posture means there is musculoskeletal balance. This helps to protect the joints in the spine from excessive stress. It also guards against injury & possible deformity. Good posture is a great tool to help prevent pain.


Starting Your DayPerfect Your Posture 1

  • Stand up & stretch your arms above your head. Do the hug your best friend. Wrap your arms around your body & turn as far as you can to the left, then to the right.
  • Exercise regularly to keep the abdominal muscles strong to help support the spine.
  • Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes. Choose shoes that offer good foot support & comfort. Some styles can affect the body's center of gravity. Flat shoes are better.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror. Is your posture good? Think about your posture & how to maintain it throughout the day's activities. Practice makes perfect!


Purses, Backpacks & BriefcasesPerfect Your Posture 2

Carry only the items that are required for each particular day. Avoid a heavy purse, tote, or bag worn over one shoulder. This can place too much weight on one side of the body & can cause neck, shoulder, & back pain. If you must use a bag or briefcase with a single strap, make sure the strap is padded & wide. Wear a strap that is long enough to place over the head, rest the strap on the side opposite the bag or briefcase. This can help to distribute the weight more evenly. People of all ages use backpacks today -preschoolers, students, office employees, teachers, backpackers, even grandparents! Many people pack the backpack to its absolute capacity. Some children carry almost as much weight in their backpack as they weigh! A loaded backpack should not exceed 15 percent of the body's weight & never more than 12.5 kg. Consider the following backpack tips:

  • Choose a backpack made of a lightweight material.
  • Make sure the shoulder straps are adjustable, wide & padded. A backpack with a waist/hip strap is preferable. Wear the pack with both shoulder straps & hip strap.
  • Pack heavier items close to the back. Backpacks with many compartments will help you equalize & distribute the load. Pointy objects should be packed away from the wearer's spine.
  • Parents can talk to their child's teacher & arrange for a separate set of books to be kept at home, eliminating the need to haul books back & forth.


Working at a DeskPerfect Your Posture 3

  • Choose office furniture that is ergonomically designed & that fits your body.
  • Sit with your back against the back of the chair with knees at hip level. Consider using a footrest. A small pillow or rolled towel placed at the lower back can offer needed support.
  • The workstation or desk should be at elbow height. Adjust chair height to meet this need.
  • Sit with your shoulders straight & parallel to the hips.
  • Don't slouch or lean forward to view work or the computer monitor. Either move closer to the work or move the work closer to you. Tilt the monitor so the center of the screen is at eye level for easy viewing.
  • Don't cradle the phone between your head & shoulder! It is much better to use the speakerphone or hold the phone in your hand.
  • Get up, walk tall & stretch often.


Going to SleepPerfect Your Posture 4

A firm mattress will help keep your spine aligned! However, a few other tips to maintain great posture during sleep include:

Perfect Your Posture 5

  • Don't sleep on your stomach. Sleep on your side or back.
  • When lying on your back, place a pillow under your knees. This will ease low-back tension.
  • When lying on your side, place a pillow between slightly bent knees. This will help keep the spine straight.
  • Although oversize cushy pillows are inviting, they do not benefit your spine. Instead, use a pillow that allows your head to align with the rest of your body.

Establish a lifestyle supporting good posture: Your doctor can give you many personalized tips to help you gain the benefits good posture offers.

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