Our posture is everything! It dictates how we sit, stand, and move; it is the barrier between a day of soreness and a day of energy, and it’s there to ensure our body can handle the daily demands we put it through. Every day, our posture is under rigorous testing, and it is up to us to ensure it is properly taken care of. Think of your body as a car. If you want to get many years of good use out of your car you need to keep up with maintenance and service. It is our responsibility to treat our posture well, and by doing so, you might see a long list of benefits start to arise, such as preventing chronic pain, avoiding hip and knee replacement surgery, and keeping the ability to do what you love to do as you grow older. Unfortunately, it can be easy to mess up your posture without even realizing it. So, here are five scenarios to keep in mind as you move along your day and how to ensure you are giving only the best to your body.
1. You Are Not Moving Enough
Our bodies are meant to move (hence why we have two legs), not sit in office chairs for eight hours a day. If we do not allow our bodies to get up and move around, we could be leading our bodies down the path of pain and discomfort.
How to Fix It
The fix to this is easy – move! Moving is a great way to work out muscle strain and should be done multiple times a day. If you are in an office, this could simply look like getting up and walking to the water cooler every hour or walking to the bathroom on a different floor. Getting your body moving throughout the day can be the difference between an achy posture and a healthy body.
2. The Way You Use a Keyboard Is Hurting, Not Helping
Did you know that the way you type at your desk could be a part of why your posture is deteriorating? The size of your keyboard could be causing your muscle strain. Using one that is too narrow or too wide could encourage bad posture. Additionally, where your wrists lie when you type could be causing further issues by putting extra pressure and strain on your joints. Changing your keyboard will not fix your posture, but it could help slow down the consequences of bad posture.
How to Fix It
When purchasing a keyboard, find one that matches the broadness of your shoulders. Your forearms should rest on the surface you are typing on, and your elbows should fall straight down, not at a wide angle. Then, ensure your wrists are resting on the desk or laptop you are typing on so they are not continuously strained or over-flexed.
3. You’re Gazing Down for Too Long
Our phones have us looking down far more often than we ever have. Working at a computer can also be a culprit for bad posture. Both of these activities have become natural, but they can be the biggest contributors to poor posture and painful muscles. Our heads are heavy, and tilting them down for too long can cause a lot of tension in our neck and upper back, leading to uneven weight being supported by the spine.
How to Fix It
First, try to limit the amount of time you are staring at a screen. But when you have to, holding your device at eye level or shoulder height can help alleviate strain on your neck. Additionally, if you are able to raise your computer screen or desk, this can help protect your muscles and posture. Standing desks have become a great way to keep your body moving throughout the workday while also keeping your eyes level with your screens.
4. The Way You Sit Is All Wrong
Lastly, one of the most crucial aspects of posture is how we sit. Like many of us, we have to sit in office chairs many hours a day and might change sitting positions to get more comfortable. However, many positions, such as having your feet under your body or your feet out in front of you, can cause unnecessary strain to your muscles. Additionally, slouching while sitting can cause harm and lead to our heads being improperly supported.
How to Fix It
Going forward, when you think of sitting, think of 90-degree angles. You should sit with your feet flat on the ground with your shins perpendicular to the floor. Then, your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle, and your thighs should be at a right angle with your spine. Ideally, your spine should be resting parallel to the back of your chair. This position might take some time, but it can help avoid unnecessary muscle strain and pain moving forward. Also, try sitting on different kinds of seats, such as a big exercise ball.
5. Your Workouts Are NOT Helping
It’s hard to believe, but your workout could actually be making your posture worse. If you have a job where you are sitting for many hours at a time, that bad stimulus is teaching your muscles to do the incorrect thing. So, if you take that bad posture into your workout, you could be strengthening your bad posture. Or if your feet point out and you like to walk for exercise, you could be creating strain in your knees and back by walking improperly. Yes, feet out is bad posture!
How to Fix It
Create a better bridge. You need to create some transition work before you start to work out. This pre-work workout needs to be focused on improving your posture and alignment. Dynamic movements that put your feet straight, butt out, and shoulders back. You can find some great pre-workout posture exercises in my book, Pain Free Life.
Multiple things can cause poor posture, but it can be fixed. If you have been feeling the pain of a poor posture and want to work on fixing it, contact the team at Exercise Therapy of Kansas City.