Are you standing with attention?
How many times did your mum, dad, or grandparents tell you to sit up straight? I’m guessing quite a few! But as we get older, posture can go from being something your parents used to nag you over to something we forget about entirely. That’s a mistake. Good posture is about more than making the most of your frame – it’s a key building block of overall health and can help to prevent those aches, pains, and niggles that get more intense as we age.
An effective posture is built around the idea of a neutral spine. This is the natural position of the spine with the three structural curves in good order. The curve of the neck (cervical), the curve of the middle back (thoracic) and the curve of the lower back (lumbar). This forms a gentle ‘S’ shape that is the gold standard of posture. Unfortunately, modern life with its hours spent hunched over a screen or sprawled on a sofa can kick the neutral spine out of alignment.
The first step in improving your posture is to find neutral. Start by standing against a wall with your feet hip-width apart. Your shoulder, hips, and heels should be touching the wall. This is neutral and although it may feel very strange at first, it’s where you want to train your back to be most of the time. If you are struggling to touch your heels to the wall – and that’s not too unusual – start a few inches away and practice slowly moving them back.
We spend a lot of time sitting down and that’s the perfect place to start correcting your posture. You should always ensure that your bum is touching the back of the chair, with your back and shoulders neutral, your feet flat on the floor, and your eye line straight ahead. If your chair isn’t providing adequate support, consider changing it. And if you are struggling to maintain the position, try adding extra lumbar support to reinforce a neutral spine.
Human beings are made to be active, and staying in the same position, even a correct one, for extended periods of time can be harmful to your back. Get up and stretch or move around at least every thirty minutes. Exercise will also help. A strong core and back muscles make it much easier to maintain a healthy posture. Floor exercises, including bridges, lateral leg lifts, and partial curls are all great for spine health. You will find these and many more great back exercises in a good yoga or Pilates routine.
Moving back to a healthy posture after years of living with an unhealthy one is challenging. Your body is comfortable in its bad habits and when your mind wanders, you may notice your back slumps too. One way to counter this at first is to set regular reminders to check in with your spine. It may sound a little over the top but keeping up 30-minute checks for a couple of weeks is likely to reset all those bad habits.
I hope everyone is sitting up just a little straighter after reading this blog. I know I am after writing it! If you want to improve your posture along with your overall health and fitness, give us a call. At FitFusion PT we are obsessed with helping you to becomes the best version of you, you can be. And there is no better time to start than today! Until next week, stay amazing.