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Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while sitting, standing or lying down. When we have good posture, our bodies are correctly aligned and we are less likely to experience pain. Our busy modern lifestyles and demanding jobs, however, mean that many of us develop poor posture, leading to excessive strain on the muscles and an increased risk for pain. Postural correction treatment and exercises can help.
Growing up, parents and teachers probably told you to “sit up straight” and “practice good posture.” But what exactly does practicing good posture mean – and why is it so important? Good posture is essential to maintaining proper spinal alignment. Over time, poor posture can strain the spine, placing additional pressure on the vertebra and nearby nerves. This added pressure increase the risk for developing chronic pain. For example, you can see the effects of poor posture on individuals who bend forward at the waist for excessive periods do to sitting at a desk hunched over a computer screen and keyboard. These individuals are more likely to experience back pain.
The basics of good posture when sitting are actually pretty straightforward. Keep your feet flush on the floor or use a footrest if you’re feet don’t quite reach the floor. Avoid crossing your legs. Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat. The knees should be at or below knee level. Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground. When standing, the majority of your weight should be on the balls of your feet. Don’t lock out the knees; keep them slightly bent with the feet shoulder-width apart. Allow the arms to hang naturally along the sides of your body. Tuck your stomach in and don’t slouch.
When it comes to good posture, most of us have developed a few bad habits over time. The first step is to bring conscious awareness to your posture; after all, if you don’t realize that you’ve got a bad posture habit, you won’t realize that you need to correct it! A combination of chiropractic adjustments, core strengthening exercises and ergonomic corrections deliver the greatest treatment benefits. Adjustments restore proper alignment to the spine, core exercises strengthen the muscles you need to hold the vertebra in place, and ergonomic changes to your workspace add the support your body needs to maintain proper alignment.
Adjust the height of the chair so your feet are flush on the floor. Move your keyboard or computer screen so you do not need to strain your neck or body to type or see the screen. If you experience lower back pain, add a firm lumbar support pillow. Finally, take a break every hour to give your body a rest.