Research has shown that accumulated bad posture can contribute to back pain, so you must maintain good posture to minimize back pain.
Chronic pain affects millions of people and has now become a problem of epidemic proportions. People are suffering and searching for answers, but there doesn’t seem to be a definitive solution to resolving it.
Here are some tips to help you improve your posture so that you can put an end to back pain.
Benefits of Good Posture
Good posture not only makes you look better, improves confidence, poise, and assertiveness but it can also affect many aspects of health. If you regularly have muscle aches or pain in your neck or back, starting to improve your posture could help. Proper posture can help to keep bones and joints in alignment leading to proper muscle recruitment. It can help to reduce wear-and-tear on the joint surfaces and decrease stress on the spine, which could lead to ailments such as arthritis.
Tips to Improve your Posture & End Back Pain
1. Keep Yourself Aligned
While seated, sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line. Any position will end up becoming tiring. Be well aware of unbalanced postures such as crossing legs unevenly, leaning to one side and especially hunching over in any way.
2. Know Your Ergonomics
Be aware of your surroundings and switch them up accordingly. Watch for pain that goes away after switching positions; sudden back pain that is experienced with a new job, or a new office chair, or a new car; and/or back pain that comes and goes for months.
3. Don’t Overcompensate
Relax! Avoid restricting movements. For individuals who already have some back pain, it is a natural tendency to try to limit movements to avoid the potential pain associated with your movements. However, unless there is a serious problem, the spine is designed for movement and any limitation in motion over a long period of time creates more pain and a downward cycle of less motion (equaling more pain!)
4. Use Props
Ergonomic ‘props’ can help to take the strain off of the spine. Use office chairs with adjustable back support. Elevated footrests, portable lumbar back supports, or even a towel or small pillow can be used while sitting in an office chair. Using backpacks that are designed to minimize back strain can also influence proper posture.
5. Exercise Regularly
Walking, swimming, or cycling keeps your body conditioned. These activities will promote good posture, which will, in turn, further help to condition muscles and prevent injury. Balancing your core strength and back muscles so that they are stronger than your abdominal muscles is essential to help support the upper body and maintain good posture.
6. Supportive Footwear
Avoid wearing shoes with too high of heels, which can affect the body’s center of gravity and change the alignment of the whole body, which in turn will affect back support and posture. When standing for long periods of time, placing a rubber mat on the floor can improve comfort.
7. Ergonomics in Motion
Simple tasks such as walking, lifting and even holding a telephone, are activities that require attention to posture. It is important to maintain good posture even while moving to avoid injury. Back injuries are especially common due to awkward, sudden movements.
8. Keep on Moving
Slouching, slumping, and other poor postures become more likely when you remain still. This in turn puts extra pressure on the neck and back. In order to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture, change positions regularly. Take a break from sitting in an office chair every half hour for two minutes in order to stretch, stand, or walk.
Common Posture Mistakes to Avoid
Rounding Your Shoulders
Rounding your shoulders is one of the easier posture mistakes to correct as they are usually caused by poor posture habits. Rounded shoulders could cause tight muscles in the chest and weak muscles in the back. Be sure to always stand straight and roll shoulders back to correct posture.
Hunching Your Back
Many people hunch their back without even knowing they are doing it. Over time, hunching over could cause a rounded upper back, which can lead to muscular pain in the shoulders, upper back, and neck. Always try to stand up straight and keep shoulders in line with your ears.
Poking Your Chin
Poking your chin happens when sitting, mainly looking at a computer screen. It involves sitting hunched over and poking your chin forward. To correct the posture, gently lengthen your neck upwards as you tuck your chin. Bring the shoulder blades down and back towards the spine which pulling in the lower stomach muscles to maintain a natural curve in the lower back.
Slouching in a Chair
Most people are guilty of slouching when sitting in a chair, but it is essential to get in the habit of sitting correctly if you want to ease pain and tension in muscles. It may not feel comfortable at first to sit in the correct position because your muscles have not been conditioned to support you, but after time you will feel better and more comfortable.
Slouching while Driving
Driving can put stress on the neck, upper back, and lower back, so it is essential to sit properly with good posture to avoid any injury. There are some simple tips that can help with posture while driving including taking your wallet out of your back pocket, adjusting the seat so you are seated in the proper position, and setting the rear view mirror so it is in the proper position for your to see when in correct posture.
Slouching Over Your Smartphone or Tablet
Currently, everyone spends too much time on their smartphone or tablet. If you do spend a lot of time looking down, it is important to hold your device properly to avoid a hunched posture. Leaning over a device for too long can lead to a tight chest and weak upper back.
Leaning on One Leg
When standing, it is common for many people to shift their weight onto one leg. This can place excessive pressure on your lower back and the hip that you are leaning towards. Try to always stand up straight and keep the body evenly distributed over both legs to avoid muscle strain and imbalances.