by Dr. Amy Mercovich
Having good posture is not only important for physical health (*remember, your body’s central computer lives inside that sweet spine!), but it can also make you look and feel more confident. Poor posture can cause back and neck pain, headaches, and fatigue, which can all negatively affect your overall well-being.
If you’re looking to improve your posture, here are some easy tips.
Be aware: The first step to improving your posture is to be aware of it. Pay attention to your body position throughout the day, and notice when you’re slouching or hunching over. Correct your posture by standing up straight and pulling your shoulders back and down. Then, simply allow your chin to “pop up,” away from your chest.
Sit well: Many of us spend long hours sitting at a desk or on a sofa, which can cause poor posture if we’re not careful. To maintain good sitting posture, make sure your feet are flat on the ground, your back is straight, and your shoulders are relaxed. If you are relaxing on a sofa, try lying on your side to look at your phone, read a book, or watch tv. It will take gravity mostly out of the equation for your lower back discs and you won’t have to look down.
Computer alert: If you are sitting at a desk, there is a right and a wrong way to use your computer. First, the sitting…the secret is to sit all the way to the back of the chair, sit up tall, then lean your upper back (not the lower back) towards the back of the chair. Scoot your chair in as close to the desk and computer as you can. Place a lumber cushion or small pillow (rolled up towels and sweatshirts work well too) behind the natural curve of the lower back if your chair doesn’t have built-in lumbar support.
Next, the computer screen or monitor…once you are sitting properly and are up nice and tall, then raise your monitor to fit you, rather than your body shrinking to “fit” the computer. There are numerous ways to elevate your monitor – get creative with cookbooks, boxes, shelving, etc. If you are on a laptop, it is super simple to get it right. (See photo). You put the laptop onto a portable laptop desk and add a wireless keyboard and mouse. Voila! Perfect posture with no effort.
Standing matters: Often when one is standing to talk to someone, they stand mostly on one leg with their chest sunk back, hands crossed on the chest or hands in the pockets, and the head jutted forward. Do this instead: stand tall with your weight balanced on both feet, chin up, and grab your arms behind your back. The bonus is that the person to whom you are talking will feel that they are being listened to better when you have that tall, open posture.
Get up and stretch: Sitting for long periods can cause back stiffness and general fatigue – why is it that sitting all day feels so tiring??? Make sure you take frequent breaks to stand up, stretch, and move around. This will help you stay energized. Have you ever considered taking your phone calls standing up and walking around? Did you know that some people schedule a “walking meeting?” Be bold and brave and try it out. Your body will thank you.
Strengthen your core muscles: Strong core muscles are essential for good posture, as they help to support your spine and keep your body stable. Incorporate exercises like planks, crunches, and dead bugs (these are cutely named and they won’t hurt your back – see video) into your daily fitness routine. You only need two minutes to do a positive thing for your core. I promise.
In conclusion, having good posture is essential for your overall health and well-being. “Practice makes permanent.” A bit of effort now can help you to stay healthier and happier for a lifetime.