You remember it so clearly. Your mom constantly chirping, “Stand up straight. You’re going to ruin your back.” Perhaps she even walked up behind you, grasped your shoulders, and pulled them back, much to your chagrin. While your mom may not have had the most subtle or appropriate tactics, like many moms, that doesn’t mean she was wrong. In a society that spends most of our lives sitting down, it’s easy to forget how important posture is to the health of your back.
Posture is simply the bearing of your body. This can be something that is then described as good, bad, poor, mediocre, alert, graceful, and neutral, among others. In fact, if you can present yourself in some manner, you can probably describe posture in that way. The big thing to realize, however, is that there is genuinely such as thing as good and bad posture. This is typically defined by the effects your posture has on your body, and also the way that people perceive you because of your posture.
Individuals with poor posture not only suffer from a variety of lifelong back problems, but they are also typically viewed as lazy, unapproachable, and self-conscious. It doesn’t matter if you’re none of those things; your body position presents that attitude. Poor posture can be seen when individuals hunch their shoulders, round out their back, and appear smaller. On the other side, good posture allows your spine to be in its natural state. Individuals with good posture are less likely to have spine problems and more likely to be perceived as friendly, welcoming, and confident.
So why is this so important?
The number one reason you want to focus on good posture day in and day out is to protect your spine. The spine naturally has a curve at the neck and in your mid back. When these curves aren’t maintained properly, this can cause pain in your back, especially your lower back and your neck.
Poor posture has become a regular problem throughout the first world, leading to higher rates of back pain. When you work at a desk all day, it can be tough to maintain proper posture. The muscles that help you to maintain good posture weaken, making it even a greater challenge. So what do you do about it, because believe us, you need to do something about it.
#1 Know What Good Posture Is
The first thing you need is to know what good posture is and how to recognize when you have bad posture. Good posture, when you’re standing, is characterized by a few specific points:
- Your shoulders are inline over your hips and feet.
- Your head and neck are in a neutral position squarely between your shoulders.
- You are engaging your core muscles.
- Your shoulders are pulled back and held in a neutral position.
While it may be hard to recognize good posture if you’re not used to it, you can be sure to recognize poor posture. Poor posture is when you:
- Are hunched forward.
- Lead with your chin.
- Stick your buttocks out.
- Overarch your back.
- Walk as if you should be sitting.
Once you know what is good posture, and what is poor posture, it’s much easier to go about correcting the problem.
#2 Work To Improve Your Posture
Strengthen Your Core Muscles
One of the best things you can do to help your posture on a regular basis, and your spine, is to continually work to strengthen your core muscles. This means that you need to work on both your abdominal and back muscles in order to help support your body. You can do this in many simple ways from participating in yoga, swimming laps, or simply doing a few exercises each day geared specifically for those muscles.
Do a Mental Check
You can’t correct your posture if you don’t know that you’re slouching. Make a point of regularly making a mental check of where you are and correcting anything that is getting lax. For example, if you work at a desk, put a sticky note on the edge of your computer screen. Every time you clearly notice it, do a mental check. Sit up straighter, roll your shoulders back, and put your feet back on the ground if you need to.
Use Ergonomic Help Devices
For the millions of Americans that sit at a desk all day, it can be hard to focus on posture. So when you’re sitting at a desk, take the time to use any ergonomic devices that can help improve your posture. This could include a lumbar support pillow, wrist rests, and screen lifts to make your work situation more conducive to a healthy spine.
Trust us, we remember our moms telling us to stand up straight, and now it’s our turn to tell you the same thing in order to help reduce your back pain! If you suffer from chronic back pain, let the back specialists at the Spine Institute of North America be the first place you visit. We’re here to help!