You may not think too much about your posture, but, in today’s society, it’s easy to find yourself in habitually bad postural positions. We sit all day with our backs rounded over and our heads looking up at a computer screen or down looking at a device. Poor posture can lead to numerous problems as we get older. Muscles that are in shortened positions for long periods of time become tight, which will prevent our joints from being able to return to their ideal stretched position. In example, when in a forward rounded position, the muscles in the front of our bodies become tight and make it difficult to stand up with a neutral spine.
Tight hip flexors will pull and tip the pelvis forward which can create low back pressure and pain.
Tight chest muscles may cause the spine to round forward which then create a posture that forces an increased curve in the neck when trying to look forward or up. This, in turn, can create neck pressure and pain.
The rounded posture can also put more pressure on the diaphragm making it more challenging to breathe.
To prevent or counteract these postural deviations, like most aspects of fitness, is very personal depending on your strengths and weaknesses. Stretch this. Strengthen that. However, I’m going to let you in on a simple solution. Sit talls.
Sit on the edge of your chair avoiding touching the chair back. Sit tall and then imagine I offered you $50,000 to sit 2″ taller. As you try to stretch your spine up, pushing the top of your head further toward the ceiling, you engage your core muscles. This will help strengthen your weaker postural muscles, such as your abs and upper back. It can also help stretch tight, front torso muscles. Sit talls can also be performed as stand talls, trying to stand as tall as you can.
Of course, even if you build strength and flexibility, you then need to create the habit of holding good posture. I tell clients to set their watches to chime on the hour and, when it goes off, check your posture and make sure you are sitting or standing as tall as you can. Hold it. You’ll forget after a while, then the chime goes off again. You correct your posture again and bit by bit you create a habit of holding better posture.
2 thoughts on “Paying Attention to Posture”
All great information. What is your opinion of standing desks- pariticularly for long hours of computer work? Thanks!
Thanks, Jeff. Standing desks have some advantages. You’re more likely to shift your body around and, if you are standing and moving, you will burn more calories than seated. You’re also less likely to let your posture completely slump as in a chair, however, standing doesn’t necessarily mean better posture. Like a chair, you’d still have to have the standing desk set up to be ergonomically correct and you’d still have to be aware of and practice good posture. I’d recommend a desk that can adjust for standing and sitting. Stand as much as you can. Sit when you need. Pay attention to posture in both positions.