MAYBE YOU’RE FEELING a little tired. Or perhaps you are very tall, head and shoulders above everyone in the world around you.
For whatever reason, slumping, hunching your shoulders, and tensing your lower back will eventually begin to cause pain. Your poor posture may even affect your health by compromising circulation and increasing stress on your joints and soft tissues.
Proper posture, on the other hand, can help improve health and quality of life in many ways.
“Good posture encourages optimal blood flow to all of your tissues, allowing for delivery of oxygen and nutrition and removal of waste products from metabolism,” says Nadene Edland, PT, physical therapist with HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals’ Centers for Rehabilitation Services in Chippewa Falls. “It also lengthens muscles and allows for optimal rib expansion when breathing, increasing oxygenation in your lungs."
TRANSFORMING YOUR STANCE
‘Take steps to strengthen your body and shift your shape.
“Start by looking in the mirror and giving yourself an honest evaluation,” Edland says. “Some of us don’t even realize how poor our posture is because it has become normal.”
If you notice your head is pitched forward or your back is swayed, consider talking with a physical therapist (PT) about exercises to improve flexibility and strength. “If you sit at a desk all day, a PT may recommend standing up and walking around frequently, as well as rolling shoulders back and pulling your shoulder blades toward one another,” Edland says. “Reversing your posture throughout the day is also critical to maintain good posture. Gentle core exercises to strengthen your abdominal muscles can help tremendously.”
Your Guide to a Healthy Seat
Sitting at a desk or conference table day after day may take a toll on your back, neck, and shoulders. To improve your posture, keep the following tips in mind:
• When you sit down, straighten your spine, pull your shoulders back, and position both buttocks so they touch the back of your chair.
• Make sure your weight is evenly distributed on both of your hips.
• Place feet flat on the floor with knees bent at right angles so that knees are even with hips or slightly higher. A foot rest may be helpful to help you find the right position.
• If you are looking down at a computer screen, raise the screen so you can keep your chin level and your ears positioned over your shoulders.