Five Simple Daily Tips to Improve Your Posture
When physios address postural problems today, we’re less interested in locking people into a military-style straight back and more concerned with reintroducing movement into your day to day lives.
After all, numerous studies and my own experience in the clinic has shown that there is no one, perfect posture, but there are physical consequences from staying fixed in certain positions for too long or subjecting the body to uneven loads and asymmetrical or repetitive movements.
This means that you won’t find “sit up straight” in today’s posture advice, instead physios focus on small daily habits that can add up to big problems over time. Here are five of my top posture tips.
1: Use a backpack instead of a shoulder bag
Over time, uneven weight distribution through your body can lead to muscle imbalances and postural and biomechanical problems as structures on one side of your body become weaker or stronger than the other.
One of the most common ways people imbalance their bodies is through their choice of bag. A shoulder bag packed with a laptop, books, chargers and any other daily essentials may not seem like it’s putting a lot of pressure on your body, but over time even small imbalances add up, not just through the direct load, but also through how they affect your movement.
Backpacks are the healthier option for your posture as they evenly distribute the load across both shoulders, while also helping pull your shoulders back, which can be an added bonus for the many people with desk jobs who end up with forward sloping shoulders.
2: Avoid resting your chin on your hand
Many of my clients have developed postural problems from minor habits that they never think twice about. One that’s come up a few times in relation to neck pain is resting your chin on your hands when you’re on the tube or at a desk or table.
This posture drags your neck into a forward, extended position that can put strain on the muscles and tendons along the back of your neck and the top of your shoulders.
3: Don’t neglect your sleep posture
The 40-hour-or-more office job gets a lot of blame for our postural problems, and for good reason, but we spend even more hours a week sleeping, a time that can have just as much of an impact on our postural health.
Sleeping on your belly, for example, flattens the natural curve of your spine and can lead to lower back and shoulder pain. Special sleep vests or simply putting a tennis ball in the front pocket of a reversed shirt can encourage you to sleep the right way up.
If your pillows are too soft you can also end up with neck pain from a lack of support while you sleep, tilting your neck for hours. You should provide enough support to keep your neck level with your spine when you lie down.
4: Move more
Whether you’re sitting at a desk or standing, staying still for too long is bad for your posture. But just because you’re not walking or running around doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to integrate more movement into your day.
You can do pelvic tilts when sitting or standing, shoulder cross stretches or even just wriggle in your chair to keep your body a little active. It may not seem like much, but it helps tremendously in preventing stiffness and soreness.
Focus on your hips and shoulders as these are the areas most commonly affected by prolonged sitting or standing.
5: Adjust your screens
Many of us, whether we like it or not, have to spend most of our days staring at screens, from phones to laptops to multi-monitor desktops. The problem is, it’s easy to lose track of how your neck is positioned when engrossed in your work, and even the most fit and healthy people struggle with a sore neck after a day in front of a screen.
To help alleviate neck strain, keep your screen at eye level. This can be tricky with a laptop where the screen and keyboard are tight together, so if you have to do prolonged desk work, I highly recommend using a desktop instead where you can move the screen to any height you like.
If you’re using a multi-monitor set up, instead of rotating your head to look from screen to screen, rotate your whole body. Not only will this introduce some extra movement into your day, it will also prevent the strain from repetitive motions back and forth.
If you’re feeling affected by poor posture or want advice on how to introduce more movement into your life, get in touch with us now at firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7093 3499.
Sports and Spinal physiotherapist