“Stop slouching!” We all heard this wisdom from our parents when we were children. Now as adults, that advice is even more relevant. Between working at a desk, taking care of children or housework, and spending time on our mobile devices, our spines are under more stress than ever! Pair that with less time for quality sleep and increased mental stresses and it is a wonder that our bodies work at all!
Thankfully for us, our bodies are wonderful biological instruments. We were made to adapt and made to last. By correcting a few bad habits, we can ease some of the stresses we place on our bodies and make our lives a little bit easier.
First thing to do is to indeed stop slouching. Good posture while we stand, sit, and sleep is very important. Maintaining good posture helps us with good balance and the most efficient use of our energy. Good posture can improve your mood and make you happier too! (http://news.sfsu.edu/research-posture-yields-insight-treating-depression) It also helps maintain correct form while exercising and performing physical activities. This leads to fewer injuries and greater gains. Working on posture and balance will strengthen core muscles and improve abilities in just about every daily activity you participate in, whether that be work or play, or both!
One of the biggest things that sticks out for most people is the ability to move. You can be young, old, rich, poor, if you cannot move, you aren’t likely to be happy. Rising from a chair, using stairs, turning to look behind you, these are all basic functions that will severely affect your quality of life if you lose the ability to perform them.
The Good News is that there is hope! Habits can be changed, it just takes a little bit of work. First thing to do is understand what good posture is. This means…
-Chin parallel to the floor
-Shoulders even with ears
-Arms at sides with elbows straight and even
-Abdominal muscles engaged and braced
-Hips even and not tilted forward or backward
-Knees even and pointing towards the front (not one or both off to the side)
-Weight distributed evenly across both feet
-Chin parallel to floor and eyes straight ahead
-Shoulders relaxed and arms supported
-Low back supported and neutral curves maintained
-Body weight evenly distributed on hips and buttocks
-Knees at right angles (do not cross legs)
-Feet flat on floor
-Get up to move around at least once every hour
-Pillow under head, not shoulders
-Curve in neck should be neutral, not exaggerated or diminished
-Do not sleep on stomach
-Do not sleep with knees drawn up toward chest
-Do not use a mattress that is saggy or too soft
-If sleeping on back, use pillow under knees to take pressure of low back
-If sleeping on side, use pillow between knees to keep hips neutral
-Most importantly, sleep in a way that will make you feel well rested. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important factors for your overall health.
After recognizing what good posture looks like, take time out to notice your own posture. Research exercises and ask for a professionals help with postural re-education. Bad habits can be changed and good habits can quickly take their place. You must make up your mind to commit to changing and stick with that decision. Quick posture checks in the mirror, hourly reminders to move around at work, stretching before getting out of bed, these are just a few examples of ways to reinforce positive change. A health professional can help you decide what will work best for your individual needs.
If you find breaking habits difficult, do not get discouraged. Just take a deep relaxing breath and keep at it. When you find yourself in poor posture, recognize it and readjust to change it. Over time, your body will begin to develop muscle memories that keep you in a healthy posture. So take that first step right now while you are reading this and Stop Slouching!
You can do it! We believe in you!