Posture is the way you hold your body while standing, sitting or performing any activity. If your posture is proper, the bones of the spine are correctly aligned. Poor posture is a problem that is faced by almost the entire world’s population. Though it seems like a fairly minor issue, it is a real problem faced by both older and younger populations around the world. Adults spend a maximum of their day slumping over their desks at the workplace, only to return home and slump on their couches while they rest. Heavy book bags from school cause children to slouch while walking and they return home to collapse in front of the television, only to further worsen the case. Slouching and slumping has become a part of the everyday life of today’s world and is leading to chronic back pain and other issues for all those young and old.
Everyone at some point in their life has been asked to ‘stop slumping’, however, this is easier said than done. This article explores some important tips and tricks that will help you improve your posture and prevent back pain. Understanding these factors and implementing them in your everyday life will definitely improve your overall health.
What causes bad posture and back pain?
One may not feel the ill effects of sitting with a bad posture for a few hours, but over months, this causes anatomical changes in the spine and leads to chronic back pain due to constriction of blood circulation in nerves and blood vessels as well as excess pressure on the joints and disks. The following causes are some of the many that create bad posture and back pain:
- Heredity: Many people are born with hereditary conditions that cause problems such as scoliosis, an abnormal curving of the spine, deformities and unevenness of limbs and other diseases that result in bad posture.
- Repeated motions: Repeated motions such as sitting slumped over a desk, driving with a hunched back or even bending over and performing activities over a prolonged period of time causes serious damage to a person’s posture.
- Muscle imbalance: If there are muscle imbalances in a person, posture problems may arise. The abdominal and back muscles have to balance each other to ensure good posture.
- Injuries: At times, injuries that are long-term cause a person to adjust and move their body with improper posture in order to avoid pain.
- Weight: Excess weight, especially in the abdomen region, can cause excess strain on the spine and naturally result in poor posture.
How to improve bad posture and avoid back pain:
Controlling and improving posture is a very essential part of relieving back pain before it causes permanent and serious damage to the spine. It may seem difficult in the beginning, but practicing the steps over time will definitely help improve overall health. The following steps can be followed to improve poor posture:
1. Walk tall and straight:
Posture is often connected to sitting incorrectly. However, walking with bad posture is extremely common and equally damaging. It is important to keep your head straight and in line with your spine while walking. Avoid slouching your shoulders and always try to land on your heel to prevent tension and pressure on the spine.
2. Don’t do the ‘office hunch’:
The office hunch is something very common amongst working professionals and students. It involves the person sitting to sit at the edge of the chair and slouch to reach their computers or books. Instead of hunching, follow the following steps:
- Keep your back touched to your chair with your shoulders straight and head in line with your spine.
- Keep your arms always at a 75 to 90-degree angle at the elbows.
- Keep knees at level with your hips or a little above.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest.
3. Lift with caution:
It is important to adopt the correct lifting techniques to ensure minimum strain on the back. While lifting both heavy and light objects, keep your back straight. Always bend at the hips and not using your lower back. Ensure that you keep your chest out and lead with your hips while changing directions to prevent any burden on your lower back. Also, keep the object that you are lifting as close to your body as possible.
4. Sleep well:
While sleeping or laying down, ensure that you maintain the natural curve of your body. Sleeping on your back with a support pillow under your lower back and/or knees is a good option, also on the side with knees slightly bent. Also, ensure that your bedding is not too saggy and is firm enough to support your body without putting added pressure on the spine and back.
5. Less stress:
It may seem minor at first but the most common reason for bad posture is due to stress. When we are stressed out bodies tend to constrict and we naturally hold a tightness in our back and shoulders while slouching. Practicing meditations for mindfulness may help in relieving stress and enabling one to maintain better posture, since they are more relaxed and at peace.
6. Strengthen your core:
Ab exercises may seem like a chore, but they are very essential to ensure good posture. Strengthening your core muscles improves the ability of the abdominal muscles to support the back and spine, thus reducing stress and strain that causes backache.
7. Yoga and stretches:
Performing yoga and stretching exercises is extremely beneficial to loosen the tension in the back and shoulder muscles. This, in turn, reduces the amount of stress caused to the back and spine, which causes bad posture and back pain.
These are some of the basic steps that you can practice to ensure a better posture, and in turn, lesser back pain. These steps followed by exercise and combined with various ergonomic techniques will definitely provide respite and relief from chronic back pain caused due to poor posture.