Today’s lifestyle can impact negatively on our posture; whether it is sitting at a desk all day, engaging with our mobile devices or driving for long distances in a car, we need to be aware of the impact this is having on our bodies. Who would have thought that there could be a significant number of potential injuries waiting to happen, just by getting in and out of your car? Before we look at our 8 tips to help you improve your posture let’s start by thinking about what we mean by good posture.
What do we mean by good posture?
Good posture has a variety of definitions. We would define it as maintaining the natural equilibrium and balance in the body. How do we do this? For example, by not exerting constant one-sided strain, and standing, sitting and lifting in a way that allows your body to use its natural strength and ability. Also, keeping mobile and avoiding long sessions in one position, or continuous repetitive movements. Pain is the body’s way of telling us there is a problem; don’t thoughtlessly take painkillers but try to understand what your body is telling you and either rest or see a professional and stop the problem early, before it becomes an issue. Listen to your body – it knows what to do.
We normally develop our strength and balance from conception; the forces in the womb, the learning how to stand, the experience of walking and running – as we develop, our bodies naturally maintain the initial flow and equilibrium we are normally born with.
So, what goes wrong? Well, particularly in the West, we have so many bad habits, mostly developed from our privileged lifestyles. Sitting in recliner seats as babies instead of being in playpens, for example, where we can explore our bodies’ abilities; slumping in sofas; bending over mobile phones; less exercise at home and in school….. these all contribute to weaker bodies and repetitive strain injuries, leading to short and long-term posture issues.
How can we improve posture?
A lot of postural problems come from damaging daily habits. We would like to share our 8 tips to help improve posture, or at least prevent further damage:
1. Walk tall when moving around. Think about your posture when walking, drawing your torso up out of your pelvis rather than compressing your body. Imagine a plumb line dropping from the crown of your head to between your feet. Try not to stand with one hip out to the side when you are standing. This focus alone will make you look younger!
2. Sitting at your desk. With many of us now working at a screen or laptop a lot of the time it is important to consider your seating position. Is the screen straight in front of you at eye level? Are your shoulders relaxed? Are your feet on the floor and at the right angle? Take regular hourly breaks to walk around and stretch out.
3. High Heels. What can we say? Avoid them, but if you must wear them, invest in a foot massager to use when you get home.
4. Find a good sleeping position. If you sleep in odd positions – hands above your head or twisted, this is probably your subconscious making you comfortable in your sleep. Probably indicative of stiffness or misalignment in your body. Consult a professional.
5. Exercise. Regular aerobic exercise is great but be aware that the one-sided sports such as tennis or rowing will actually create inequality in your body and put your posture and your back at risk. Stretching, deep breathing and walking are all a good investment in your body’s health.
6. Lifting a baby or heavy item out of a car. Don’t just lean in the front door, twist round and lift the heavy item with long arms. Get into the back of the car as straight as possible (i.e. keeping your torso and pelvis in line), collect the item, then back out without twisting. Even better, get a four-door car.
7. Driving position. Leave your arms relaxed, sit straight, don’t slump and don’t prop an elbow up on any convenient ledge.
8. Getting in and out of the car. Most people put the right leg out of the door, then turn to the left to grab the handbag/ briefcase/ shopping from the passenger seat with their left hand and continue to get out of the car with the heavy weight on one side and with a twisting motion. Ideally, rotate and put both legs out at the same time, stand up then turn back into the car to get the shopping, bag, etc. Or, even better, go around to the passenger side to take things out. If the ‘ladylike’ way of exiting the car doesn’t work for you, then put the right leg out and stand up out of the car keeping your torso and pelvis as much in line as possible, then take out the left leg.
To help keep us fit and healthy for longer we need to look after our body; after all, we have to live in it for a long time! Abusing it now sets us up for trouble down the line. Thinking about how we use our body helps us be aware of what doesn’t feel right. Your body may already be giving you warning twinges – listen to it and it will reward you.
If you are concerned about the impact poor posture is having on your body and would like to seek further support please get in touch to arrange an initial 1:1 consultation.