Chronic back pain is a problem for a great many people including those who work desk jobs where they spend plenty of time sitting down. Poor posture can put plenty of stress on the spine’s joints and muscles, which can lead to pain and discomfort. Good posture is key to preventing pain, as well as improving your back health in general. It turns out, there’s a good reason why one of the most common pieces of advice is to sit (or stand) up straight.
Why Good Posture Matters
Some of the benefits of getting better posture include:
- Strengthened SpineIf you find yourself spending several hours in front of the computer, it might be time to fix your posture to avoid hurting your back. Consistent hunching can cause muscle tension and spasms, causing back pain. Tension headaches are another common consequence of slouching, which can be another sign to watch for if you suspect problems with your posture. Start sitting up straight to put less strain on the spine and get some relief for back and neck pain.
- Improved MoodsSome new research indicates that slouching may be bad for your mood. People who have better posture are more likely to maintain more positive moods in the face of stress. A straight-back posture also contributes to increased mindfulness and decreased self-absorption, allowing you to stay positive even when in hard times. Start sitting up straight yourself to build greater stress resilience in the event of taxing situations.
- Greater Mental PowerPracticing good posture can bring you more than improved physical health; it’s also good for your mental health. Research also suggests that practicing good posture can boost your mental state and make it easier to think. Spending as little as one minute straightened up can lead to improved behavioural changes and a decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone. Good posture can contribute to a more positive outlook on life and greater confidence.
- Optimized Lung and Brain OrientationSlumping over can also be bad for your lungs and air intake. On the other hand, sitting up gives the lungs more space to expand, allowing you to provide the brain with more oxygen. Thanks to good posture, you can get improved attention, energy, focus, and overall mental activity.
How to Improve Your Posture
Now knowing the advantages, you can start taking steps to fix your posture. Try these better posture tips to reduce chronic back pain and help yourself stand and sit up straighter; your back will definitely thank you for it!
- Straighten Up
Slouching puts a strain on the muscles, bones, and joints holding the backbone in place. Straighten up instead. It can make you feel better and make you look much slimmer.To start, place your back against a wall. Hold your head squarely above your spine with your ears directly above your shoulders and your chin tucked in slightly. Keep your shoulders back, knees straight, and belly tucked in. One way to visualize this posture is to imagine there’s a string running through your spine and out your head.
- Refrain From Slumping at Your Desk
Prolonged sitting, particularly at work, can lead to slumping. It may feel more comfortable at times, but consider slouching at your desk a no-no from now on.
Sit all the way back in your chair to engage the muscles in your upper body, particularly in the lower back. Set your feet flat on the floor to give your back the support it needs. Bend your knees at a right angle and keep them around the same height as your hips. You can also use some ergonomic props to take some of the load off the spine. Use a cushion to protect your back’s natural curve, or use a footrest so your feet can provide support. You can also keep an eye out for better posture exercises you can do at your desk.
- Beware of “Text Neck”Take a moment to stretch your neck after you’ve spent some time on your smartphone. Texting tends to make people tilt their heads to read, which can cause slouching and affect both the back and neck. It may not sound like much, but the strain can add up over time. Adjust how you read texts to minimize any damage to the back and neck. To reduce strain on the neck, hold your phone at eye level to decrease the amount of time you spend looking down. Move your eyes instead of your head as you read to make things easier on the neck.
- Stay Upright While You DriveIt may feel more comfortable to lean back while driving, especially when driving, but staying upright is ultimately better for your back.Ease your back by pulling your seat closer to the wheel. Bend your knees slightly and avoid locking your legs. Keep the knees around hip level for maximum support. Just like sitting at your desk, place a cushion behind your lower back to provide lumbar support.
- Sleep Right
How you sleep can have a major effect on the health of your back. Sleep in a position that protects the natural curve of your back.There are some secrets to a good night’s sleep; one method is sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees to reduce strain. If you’re a side sleeper, refrain from hugging your knees. Instead, bend your knees slightly. As for your pillow, place it so it keeps your head level with your spine. You can also check your mattress to ensure it provides enough support as you sleep. Select a firm mattress and box spring set that doesn’t sag for sufficient support.
- Wear Supportive Footwear
Many people tend to stand so their weight rests on the heels (which can be the case when wearing high heels). Refrain from wearing heels too often; the shoes can affect your centre of gravity, leading to a shift in the body’s alignment. Wear more supportive shoes instead to help keep your body aligned when standing. Another thing to take note of is how you stand. Place your weight on the entire foot to avoid putting pressure on weight-bearing joints like the ankles, knees, hips, and lower back.
Avoiding slouching and other factors that can hurt your back doesn’t have to be hard. It all starts with minding your posture. Watch how you sit and stand to make sure you don’t put any undue pressure on your back. Once you know how to fix your posture, you can try your own better posture workout to reduce back pain and make your everyday life a little more soothing, especially at work.
Sometimes you could use a helping hand with taking proper care of your muscles and joints. Toronto Ortho Neuro Physiocare offers a wide range of services to give our patients a speedy recovery. Call us now at (416) 533-3900 to make an appointment and start the road to recovery.