Better Posture Habits That Will Change Your Day
In addition to helping relieve back pain, preventing headaches, and decreasing stress levels, practicing good posture can help you feel more confident and well, healthier. When it comes to changing your day for the better, try these better posture habits:
Sit Up Straight
Sounds easy enough, but for many people, especially those with day jobs spent at a desk, sitting up straight takes constant body awareness and vigilant reminding to yourself. The problem is, when you slouch your back, hunch your shoulders, or crane your head and neck forward when using your phone or computer, you place disproportionate strain on key back muscles and tendons, as well as compress the vertebrae in your spine.
This can lead to acute back pain, but over time, may build up to more chronic aches and pains which require regular management with ice and heat packs, NSAIDs, and massage. If you truly want to sit up straighter but need a little extra support, try these helpful ideas:
Use an app – apps for your digital devices like Posture Trainer, Posture Man Pat, PostureZone and Posture Reminder all offer unique alerts and reminders for you to sit up straight depending on your head height with your computer monitor, the custom schedule you set up to be reminded about your posture, and so on.
Use a pillow – posture pillows, like a lumbar support cushion for the car or a back support pillow for your office chair, can give you the comfort and support you need in the seats you spend the most time in. They also encourage the natural inward curve of your lower back which helps you to sit up straight. For office chair back support pillows, read more here.
Use a brace – acutely concerned about your bad posture? There is such a thing as posture back braces which you can wear to correct your bad posture and relieve inflamed muscles and joints, when you’re at work, exercising, or simply going about daily activities. Look online or in your local drug store.
Uncross Your Legs
You might feel that you’re sitting up straight and aligning your spine just fine even when you have your legs crossed, but unfortunately, you would be wrong. Crossing your legs is a common posture habit that is so easy to slip into, especially when you sit for prolonged periods of time, but turns out, crossing your legs can actually shift the balance of your hips.
Pelvic imbalance can impair the natural curvature and support of the spine simply by causing you to lean, even imperceptibly, to the side of the leg you are have crossed over. Added stress on lower back muscles can result in tension and pain which adversely causes you to slouch more. Plus, crossing legs has been shown to temporarily raise blood pressure and put pressure on the peroneal nerve. Pinching that nerve can leave your foot feeling numb or “asleep” for some time even after you have uncrossed your legs.
Practice Deep Breathing
Try taking a deep breath and filling your lungs while you are hunched forward in your chair. Now try taking another deep breath sitting up straight. You’ll see how deep breathing naturally cues the body to rise up straighter and your shoulders to fall back.
One of the little realized effects of bad posture habits is diminished lung capacity. When you slouch and slump, you actually place a lot of pressure on the thoracic cavity which can prevent you from taking in as much air as you should into your lungs. Deep breathing has a multitude of benefits including stress-relief, however, it can also be your ticket to sitting up taller and aligning the spine.
If back pain and neck tension wasn’t enough to have you questioning your sedentary lifestyle, a new report from the Annals of Internal Medicine uncovered alarming evidence that mortality risk goes up for those who spend extended periods of time sitting each day. If repeated sitting can result in bad posture and early death, it might be time to consider a new routine.
Experts recommend for those who sit for large periods of the day, that you try to get up and move around or stretch at least once every 30 minutes. This might mean walking to the water cooler at work or simply doing a handful of quick yoga postures during commercial breaks when you’re vegging out to your favorite primetime programming. Whatever you do, be mindful of both how you’re sitting and how long you’re sitting to garner the best benefits for your health.
Hopefully, you enjoyed these tips from my friend Joe, Co-Founder of Vive Health. I try to work on my posture daily. We have the Vive Health pedal exerciser that not only helps with staying active while sitting but also helps with posture because I have to sit up straight to use it.