Tips for Improving Posture and Ergonomics

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We live most of our days without putting too much thought into seemingly minor details. In fact, there are likely small things that you don’t even really remember doing as you go through the motions of taking kids to school, putting in a full day at work, making dinner, and getting ready for bed. One of the most common is proper posture. In fact, it’s estimated that as much as 80 percent of the population will suffer with some form of back pain in their life, and many of these cases are a direct result of improper posture.

Whether you’ve been suffering with lower back pain or just suspect that you tend to slouch while spending hours at your computer every day, there are some helpful tips you can utilize to improve your posture and ergonomics.

Focus on Where You Bear Your Weight

We don’t often think about it, but we move a lot of weight around everyday. Think about the last time you tried to lift something weighing as much as you. It was likely a difficult task to achieve if you could accomplish it at all. This weight, when incorrectly distributed during your daily routine, can cause you to exhibit poor posture and lead to a number of negative side effects over time. Just a few of these include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increase in depression symptoms
  • Pain in the back, neck, and shoulders
  • Intense headaches
  • Over time, the development of a hunchback

The way we move our weight around has become highly habitual, and it can be distracting to try to focus on this as you go through the day. A good rule of thumb is to try to put the majority of your weight on the balls of your feet.

Alignment During Sitting

It’s estimated that the average American spends 13 hours per day in a seated position. This number may seem high, but think about it. It’s easy to spend seven hours at a work desk, two hours during your commute, two hours eating, and two watching television. Considering that you likely spend more than half of your day sitting, it only makes sense that you’d want to ensure you know how to do so properly. There are many useful tips you can follow to best ensure you are properly aligning your spine while in a seated position, a few of which include:

  • Sit upright and keep the shoulders aligned with your clavicle
  • The spine has three curves, and these should all be visibly present while sitting
  • Keep your knees bent at a right angle
  • Make sure feet remain flat on the floor

Alignment While Standing

We may not spend quite as much time on our feet as we do on our backsides, but not considering your posture while standing is a huge mistake, not to mention a recipe for disaster. Even the ways in which we walk can lead to issues. Consider, for instance, how you stand, how you walk and how you hold yourself. Do you tend to push your backside out? If so, you’re not doing your back any favors. The same can be said for holding your pelvis too far forward, making your back flat.

Something I personally do a lot, which is apparently quite bad, is to lean your weight onto a single leg. This is a fairly natural thing to do, especially when standing for long periods of time. Doing so, however, buts undue strain on important parts of your body, rather than using your core muscles. There’s also the issue of “text neck,” something which applies to both sitting and standing situations.

If you think about how you most often use your phone, it’s probably while having your head pointed to look at it. This is not a natural position for your neck to be in at all times. It can cause upper spine pain, as well as shoulder aches. “Text neck” is a real issue for people as smart phones and their domination of our attention continues to rise to new heights.

Posture Corrector

Let’s face it. You have a lot on your mind on any given day, and you likely face many challenges. When this happens, you quickly lose focus on your posture and naturally assume the position that you’ve become accustomed to over the course of your life. Imagine investing in a product that would help your ergonomics switch on automatically and last throughout the day. You can do just that when you purchase a posture correcting product. Posture correctors fit comfortably under your regular clothes, and they position your spine correctly to be enjoyed all day.

Each person has their own unique preferences, and that’s one of the reasons why there are so many successful products on the market. In order to ensure you pick the one that will work best for you, make sure to take time to read and analyze reviews. This allows you the advantage of ruling out products that you know won’t meet your needs to save money and give you the best chances of finding a posture corrector that will meet your needs.

Maintain an Active Lifestyle

Whether or not you realize it, our society is becoming increasingly sedentary, and this poses a number of health risks. As you spend more time sitting, your muscles weaken, and it’s common to begin to slouch and slump since muscles tire. When this happens, you inadvertently put extra pressure on both your neck and back. Even if you work in an office, it’s possible to move more in order to encourage your muscles to stretch and “wake up”. For example, you could stand up while you work periodically when you start to feel sluggish. You can also spend your break or part of your lunch hour taking a brisk walk around the block.

Specific Exercises for Posture

Many exercises you can perform are going to depend on what sort of posture issues you may be having. For many issues, the plank exercise works very well. Doing this routine forces you to keep your back straight, helping you to find that sweet spot for everyday life. Standing with a flat back or with your backside out too far can be remedied, or at least have a lessened impact, by doing exercises such as the plank and side-lying leg raises. It’s going to come down to analyzing yourself and your posture and figuring out what is going to work best for your particular situation.

Side Lying Leg Raises

Get a Massage

Are you having muscle issues? Are those lower back pains getting far too intense to sit up straight? Maybe you’ve got something that needs a little work. What better way to help ease those muscles than a professional massage. Massage has multiple uses in helping to relieve muscle pains. Most importantly is the breaking down of lactic acid in the muscles. Lactic acid is built up whenever your muscles are used. If you’ve ever been on the treadmill and your muscles start aching after a while, that’s the lactic acid building up.

The same things apply to your back. Having poor posture puts a great amount of strain on those muscles, sometimes stretching them or contorting them into odd positions which simply aren’t good for your body. Seeing a masseuse can help fix this problem by working those muscles out so standing up straight will no longer hurt as much. Pain is as good a reason to not do something as any other, so removing that excuse puts you one step closer to fixing your posture.

One more tip for the massage: Be sure to invite your significant other along, too. No husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend has ever been happy their significant other didn’t invite them to get into some serious relaxation.

Invest in Ergonomic FurnitureMaintain an Active Lifestyle

Just as posture correctors help you maintain proper posture without having to be ever-conscious of it, there are comfortable furniture items on the market that can help you accomplish the same goal. With so many products available, it’s important to keep quality in mind. You get what you pay for, and the investment in top-of-the-line products can prove their worth. As you consider your options, there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure you pick well such as:

  • Make sure the height is easily adjustable
  • Check to ensure the seat depth allows you to recline in the chair while leaving about two inches between the chair and the back of your knees
  • Look for chairs that allow for both forward and backward tilt
  • Check for lumbar support

Get a Good Mattress

There’s a reason we’re not including this section with the “ergonomic furniture.” Unlike desk chairs or other things in which you may sit throughout the day, your mattress is where you are likely going to spend the most time at once. Considering the average person gets approximately eight hours of sleep each night, it’s safe to say about a third of our lives are spent sleeping. When viewing information from that angle, it’s easy to see how having a bad mattress can have a horrible effect on your posture.

If you’re still using the same mattress you had when you were a kid, or one you inherited from a family member, chances are it’s not the right type of mattress. Old-style mattresses have interconnected innerspring systems which cause the support to all move together at once. If you think about this and really visualize, you’ll see there’s no way to give your back the proper support it needs of it’s all bending at once.

More modern options are far better for people suffering from posture issues and other sorts of back and joint problems. Whether memory foam, latex foam, innersprings or something in between, modern mattresses offer a variety of comfort options with good support. Even the innersprings have evolved, no longer being connected, now being allowed to move independently of the rest so the mattress can conform to your body.

Enroll in a Yoga Class

Yoga has been practiced for centuries, and the biggest reason it’s stood the test of time is that it has proven benefits that have long helped people live comfortable and healthful lives. The practice encourages participants to look deeply into themselves and really focus on the different areas of their bodies. Yoga involves putting an intense mental focus on the muscles, how they feel, and how different positions can promote their overall comfort and fitness.

One of the habits yogis consciously work to perfect involves proper posture. You can receive regular training from a professional who can help you get into the habit of proper posture. Not to mention you can also meet new people and increase your overall exercise levels after a long day at the office. Just a few beneficial Yoga poses that have proven to improve posture include:

  • Mountain pose
  • Standing forward bend
  • Cobra pose
  • Child’s pose
  • Hero’s pose

Daily Reminders

Let’s face it. We often attempt to put a focus on the betterment of our bodies. However, as the millions of unused gym memberships across the country prove, it can be easy to lose our enthusiasm. In order to ensure you are reminded daily to put a focus on your posture, hang up a poster on your bedroom wall depicting proper posture diagrams. This immediately reminds you to keep your posture in mind as you face the day.

An Investment That Pays Off

All too often, the importance of good posture is overlooked. After all, it rarely leads to any immediately evident problems. However, when left unchecked, it can lead to a number of negative side effects including:

  • Increase in stress and depression
  • Back, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Tension headaches
  • Difficulty breathing

It’s clear to see that poor posture is a bigger problem than it gets credit for, and that’s why it’s so important that you do what you can now to get yours under control. When you make the effort into employing these tips in your daily life, you’re making an investment that can prevent medical problems and increase your overall quality of life, a payout that money simply cannot buy.

About the Author Leslie Lovelace

Working on improving spinal health for people by teaching them the proper postures in both seating and standing to avoid back pains and complications on the spinal cord. I help disseminate news and information about spinal health and posture technologies through social media and our website.

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