Tips to Improve Posture Newsletter

Tips to Improve Posture

Back pain can stem from a variety of sources including poor posture. A few simple changes in your daily routine and a commitment to improving your posture can be the difference in alleviating some of the back pain you feel. We've identified several quick tips you can use to improve your posture.

Why Posture is Important

A good posture can help you eliminate and alleviate problems before they become worse. Improving your posture has a litany of benefits including reducing the back pain you experience, having more energy throughout the day, and reducing the stress you place on ligaments, muscles, and supporting structures.

Posture means more than just how you stand or sit, but what your movement habits are as well. A lot of postural problems come about from a lack of movement and may be worse if you are spending more time in a slouched or uneven position. There is no perfected posture, and spinal curves alone don't predict who has problems and who doesn't.

Oftentimes, poor posture habits can creep in from many of the daily activities we engage in like sitting at your desk while working or talking to someone on the phone. Poor posture can affect your general health, make recovering from previous injuries difficult, and can sometimes lengthen recovery times if not addressed.

With the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional and licensed physical therapist, correcting your posture is possible with a few simple adjustments to your everyday life in combination with tailored treatment programs that are designed with your unique needs and goals in mind.

Quick Tips to Improve Your Posture

Avoid Slouching On Long Drives or Travels

Traveling can also impact your posture as you are limited with how much you can move or could be forced into some uncomfortable positions. Whether you're on the road or flying through the air, you need to be cognizant of your posture when traveling long distances. Sitting in the same position or slouching can cause you to place undue stress on your back, spine, and internal organs.

Some good tips for avoiding posture issues when traveling is to make sure that your feet are firmly planted on the ground in front of you with your knees bent to about 90 degrees with some level of back support behind you to give you additional support. Make sure to adjust your position when you begin to feel uncomfortable to ensure that you're avoiding those aches and pains that can stem from long hours of travel. Standing up when flying for prolonged periods or taking breaks when traveling to get out and stretch can be helpful.

Use a Pillow on Uncomfortable Furniture for Additional Support

Another common culprit for poor posture is the uncomfortable furniture you're lying or sitting on. This includes any furniture you could be sleeping on or your favorite chair you use to watch weekend sports or your favorite TV show. Different types of chairs, couches, and furniture all have varying levels of support and can often cause you to slouch and sink into the chair for added levels of comfort, but they can do a number on your back and posture.

If you find yourself sinking into the furniture or experience pain after a short while, try to use a pillow or some other support to bolster your back and posture to keep your joints in a more neutral position.

Improve Your Workstation

Sitting at your desk for extended periods can also cause posture issues. We don't think about it often, but sitting at a desk and staring at a computer screen or paperwork for hours on end can cause you to develop neck, shoulder, and back issues as you strain to see the screen or work at your desk. Some things you can do to alleviate poor posture when sitting at your workstation includes making sure that you're sitting in an ergonomic chair that supports your spine, placing your feet flat on the ground in front of you with your knees bent, and positioning your monitor directly in front of you at eye level.

If you have the option of a standing workstation, or a desk that can accommodate both sitting and standing, a variety of positions can help even out the load on your joints and tissues.

In addition, you should consider adjusting your seating positions when you begin to feel tense. When working throughout the day, you should also consider getting up every hour or so to avoid sitting for too long. During these breaks throughout the day, you can get in some quick exercises which can help you improve your productivity and give you a chance to reset and correct your position. A brief walk, quick stretch, or a simple adjustment at your workstation can do wonders on your posture.

Wear Comfortable Footwear

Shoes can commonly influence how you stand and walk. Uncomfortable footwear can cause you to subconsciously change your walking pattern which can also impact your back pain and posture throughout the day. Avoid trying to "put up with it" when selecting footwear because you think it will go well with the day's fashion. Make sure you're wearing comfortable footwear that fits you properly and provides adequate support for the day's activities.

Straighten Up

The next quick tip you can use to improve your posture if you're having problems is to "think tall". The more upright you are, the less work your body typically has to do, but we are not meant to be rigid. If you are in pain, fatigued, or even just having a bad day, this will very likely affect your posture. If you are tall but relaxed in posture, breathing from your 'belly' and trying to move smoothly and evenly, you will often feel better.

If you have a lifestyle that has you in a seated position a lot, certain muscles tend to be in a shortened position and will tend to get tight. It is harder to have good posture when you have to fight against tight muscles! Stretching muscles like the chest muscles and hip flexors can make it easier to move well.

If you find that you're having trouble standing up straight or don't know if you're straightening up properly, place your back against a wall with your heels roughly six inches away. This posture check can be a useful tool you can use throughout the day to make sure you're standing straight up and correcting your posture when it begins to slouch.

Avoid Bending and Lifting with Improper Technique

The next thing you can do to improve your posture and reduce the likelihood of future injuries is to avoid bending and lifting with improper technique. Bending over and lifting heavy items or moving items to and from throughout the day can cause stress and wear on those muscles, ligaments, and support structures in your back, neck, and shoulders. Routine activities throughout the workday that force you to bend over and perform repetitive actions can cause your posture to suffer as you begin to fatigue.

If you have to perform repetitive bending and lifting motions throughout the day, make sure you're doing so with proper technique. If you're currently experiencing back pain from bending and lifting motions, one of our licensed physical therapists at a clinic near you can evaluate and educate you on the proper ways to perform bending and lifting movements to help you alleviate pain and reduce the likelihood of future injuries.

Start Exercising

Poor posture can stem from underdeveloped muscles and improper alignment. Routine exercise can be a great way to improve your posture and strengthen those underdeveloped areas which can cause poor posture. Strength exercises in combination with aerobic exercises can be a great way to build up your endurance and muscles to support your abdomen, lower back, and shoulders. Before beginning any type of exercise, you should always consult with a qualified healthcare professional or a licensed physical therapist who can help educate and guide you on the proper ways to perform certain exercises and maneuvers with your unique needs and goals in mind.

Switch to Text to Speech and Hands-Free Devices

Another way to prevent poor posture is to switch your phone to text to speech and use hands-free devices. You might not realize it until you lay your head down at night but you could be suffering from constantly angling your head and neck downward to respond to texts or phone calls on your mobile device. A simple switch to text to speech or using a hands-free device like Bluetooth earbuds can be a great way to limit the poor head and neck posture and get your head back up to alleviate undue stress that can be caused by looking down all of the time.

Strive for a Healthy Weight

One of the best things you can do to improve your posture is to make sure that you're striving for and maintaining a healthy weight. Rapid weight gain or being overweight can cause your posture to slack or place undue stress on your body. With undue weight gain, stress can be placed on the back and legs. If you don't have enough abdominal strength, this could create changes in your posture and further stress on the back, shoulders, and hips.

Weight gain often leads an individual to alter their behavior and level of physical activity which can exacerbate posture issues that have already begun to develop. Actively work to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the potential issues that can arise from being overweight and its impact on your posture.

Identify Trouble Areas and Improve Your Posture with Physical Therapy

Correcting posture issues often starts with identifying trouble spots and actively working to correct the issues when they arise. Physical therapy can be beneficial in finding those trouble areas that could be contributing to your poor posture in addition to the back pain, shoulder pain, or neck pain you experience. Once the contributors of your poor posture have been identified, your physical therapist will work with you to help you correct your posture by strengthening supportive muscles, improving spinal health, education, and pointing out alternative methods of performing certain routine activities to reduce the likelihood of pain that can stem from poor posture.

Schedule an appointment today at a clinic near you to identify trouble areas and improve your posture with physical therapy!

 

  1. Vijay Vad, MD. “Is Poor Posture Causing Your Back Pain?” Spine, Spine-Health, https://www.spine-health.com/blog/poor-posture-causing-your-back-pain.