Driving long distances, sitting behind an office desk and sleeping in a bad position often requires of us to keep reminding ourselves to straighten up. Having a poor posture can have a significant effect on our bones, joints and internal organs and cause a number of health conditions, such as recurring back and neck pain.
Although exercise can greatly help strengthen the neck and back muscles and hold your body in a correct position, if you keep repeating the same bad habits which created the bad posture and back pain in the first place, you will still add pressure to the joints and ligaments and your progress from exercising will be limited. It is the same as following a healthy diet, but eating sweets as well – you won’t get any results.
The right way to take on this problem is to follow your regular exercises with minor changes in your daily sitting, standing and lying habits to balance muscle activity and ligament alignment.
At first, correcting your posture will feel weird and difficult as your body might have become used to standing or sitting in a particular way, and will resist the changes. But with enough conscious effort and consistency, you can successfully retrain it and sit correctly.
If you’re now wondering where to start, we have the answer for you. Try these three guidelines to correct your posture during everyday activities.
Position #1: Standing
If you are experiencing pain from long periods of standing, the reason could be:
- Shifting a larger part of your weight to one of your legs or to one of your feet
- Slouching your upper back
- Positioning your head in front of the spine
The ideal standing position should look like:
- Your feet are pointing slightly out or straight ahead
- Your spine is straight and your body isn’t leaning on any side
- Your ankles, hips, knees and shoulders as well as ears are all aligned
- The weight is evenly disturbed across both legs
- Your shoulders are back and relaxed
- Your chest is perpendicular to the ground
Whenever you catch yourself slouching or getting out of the correct shape, perform three quick jumps to regain balance of the whole body.
Position #2: Sitting
If you’re experiencing pain while sitting, then it could be a result of:
- Your upper back being slouched
- Your head being positioned in front of your spine
- Your body weight is shifted to one side more than the other
- Your arms aren’t supported
- One of your legs is crossed over the other
The ideal sitting position should look like this:
- Your feet are flat on the ground and pointing straight ahead
- Your hips are flexed to 90 degrees
- Your shoulders, hips and ears are all aligned
- Your body weight is evenly distributed on the
- Your shoulders are back and relaxed
- Your head is kept straight and not tilted up or down
To prevent hunching, and to help raise your body into its ideal position while sitting, raise your arms overhead and then pull them down and push the elbows down and back. It is highly recommended that you repeat this exercise during long periods of sitting.
Position #3: Lying
The most common mistakes people make in a lying position are:
- Lying on the side with your body curled up in a fetal position
- Lying on the side with an over-supported or under-supported neck
- Lying on the side with one shoulder or hip rotated towards the opposite side
- Lying on your stomach causes pressure on the cervical spine
- Having pillows stacked which causes an unnatural bending of the neck
The proper sleeping position should look like this:
- Lying on the side with slightly bent knees and hips
- Shoulders, hips, knees and ankles are stacked directly above the opposite side
- The shoulders, ears, hips and ankles are all aligned
- One pillow is placed under the head and one between the arms and knees.
- Frequently switching sides
In order to correct your sleeping position, sleep on the side with a pillow placed between your legs for better support and natural alignment of the body.
It is highly important that you know you shouldn’t be in the same position for long periods of time, no matter how perfect it might seem. Your body needs to keep moving every now and then, so make sure you take regular breaks and stretch. Walk around your garden, your block, or your street and we guarantee that this will improve your posture, circulation and sharpen your cognition.
The sooner you start implementing these changes in your life, the easier it will be for your body to adapt to these changes, and before you’re aware you’ll feel relaxed and confident in your own body.