Is slouching becoming a habit? Are you walking with a hunch? Check your posture and correct it before it’s too late.
Since I was a child my mother would unfailingly keep correcting my posture. Often while reading a book in a cosy nook or chatting with friends on the phone or even just standing, I would get a sudden rap on my shoulders from her, with a firm order “stand straight” or “sit straight”. Obviously this reprimand was not welcome. All right, I admit, I hated it. And why wouldn’t I? Back then did I know how my posture could affect my back?
I always associated backaches and neck pains with old age, assuming I still had time before I had to be careful about my posture and mind how I sat. But over time poor posture can easily become a second nature, which it did with me. The alarm bells rang when one morning I got work with a severe pain through my spine. After many doctors, tests, and nightmares, finally it was diagnosed that the culprit was my bad posture. I realised. I had to make amends. Since then I have been secretly thanking my mother every time she thwacks my back and as for myself, I make an effort to consciously correct my posture. I will admit here, that the narcissist in me has helped a great deal in this. Checking myself every now and then in the mirror, has helped correct my posture. Although I do still tend to slip at times and get lazy, I’m getting there, hopefully.
Incorrect posture is one of the most common reasons for aches in the neck and shoulder region, upper and mid back and in some cases, lower back too. A simple posture correction can help in getting rid of such pains and aches when accompanied with the correct and required set of exercises. So consciously keep a check on your posture. Even if you are working alone, stay alert and upright and maintain the correct posture. Remember you are doing it for yourself not for people around you to see.
We had a chat with Dr Mahima Bakshi on this and here are some expert tips to help you through:
– Stand straight with wall support to check your posture. The back, shoulders and head should touch the wall. This would help you to check whether your posture is correct or not as it helps in better extension of the spine and shoulder.
– Keep your shoulders pulled downwards and backwards. If you have a habit of slouching, remind yourself consciously every half an hour to correct it. If need be, set reminders on your phone, put up post its on your desk, turn on a screen saver on your computer that will remind you to sit straight. Basically, do what you can to remember.
– Avoid bending your neck too much. Try to maintain a chin up position. Everyday activities such as sitting on a chair, working on the laptop or driving can easily have you slip in to a wrong posture.
– Stretch your neck muscles every 30 minutes if you are into a desk job.
– Follow the simple mirror feedback method. Stand in front of a mirror with your body facing sideways to it and check your posture. If there is any slouching correct it.
– Weak shoulder muscles could also lead to bad posture so do exercises that strengthen your shoulders – Stretching out the muscles may cause tightness of the back muscles which is why one must do regular back stretches as well. Stand behind a chair at some distance with your arms stretched above your head and bend down your back with knees straight to let the tip of the fingers touch the edge of the chair while you stretch your whole spine.
– Always walk tall. Keep your head and neck high with back straight.
– If you are working out at the gym extensively, ensure that you go for a posture check up to a physiotherapist every three months.
– Wearing high heels frequently can affect your lower back and can eventually lead to chronic back pain. So choose your footwear carefully. The ankle should not be over flexed so opt for wedges or block heels with thick base as it gives more support to the arches of the foot.
– Focus on your core muscles. Core strengthening will also help in maintaining a good posture.
– If you are driving for long hours, make sure you adjust the back seat correctly. If the back support is too straight it can load the curves of the spine so it is advisable to remove the head rest from the seat to avoid load on the neck curves or use a neck support for the cervical curve. Also remember to adjust the back rest to your height.