Good posture is essential for a healthy back. Habitual poor posture or bad posture leads to chronic aches and pains. If this goes uncorrected for a length of time, it perpetuates into a chronic pain syndrome.
Many back pain, neck pain, headache result from a bad or poor posture. Sometimes what may happen is that we adopt a posture to keep the pain away but continued bad posture results in other kinds of pains.
Over a course of time, uncorrected and habitual poor posture causes structural changes in the joints and wear and tear.
What is a Good Posture
A good posture is a position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or weight-bearing activities.
A good posture helps a person in the following ways
- Maintain correct alignment of bones and joints
- Allows optimal and efficient use of muscles
- Decreases the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces
- Decreases the stress on the ligaments
- Prevents abnormal loading of the spine
- Prevents strain or overuse injuries
- Contributes to a good appearance.
Different type of good Postures are discussed below
Good Sitting Posture
- You should sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Buttocks should touch the back of your chair.
- A good sitting posture maintains all three normal back curves should be present while sitting.
- A small cushion or lumbar roll would help to maintain the normal curves in your back.
- Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips.
- Knees should be bent at right angles and preferably at a higher position than hips. A footrest would make that easy.
- Do not cross the legs
- Change sitting position every 30 minutes.
Standing up from Sitting Position
- Move to the front of the seat of your chair.
- Stand up by straightening your legs.
- Avoid bending at your waist.
Sleeping or Lying Position
- The pillow has to be under the head and not shoulders. Pillow should not be very thick.
- Keeping a lumbar roll and a pillow under the knees while you lie supine would maintain your posture
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach as this can cause back strain> this is especially true in the saggy mattress.
- Use a firm mattress for sleeping
Standing Up from Lying Position
- Turn on your side, draw up both knees and swing your legs on the side of the bed.
- Sit up by pushing yourself up with your hands.
- Avoid bending forward at your waist.
Bad Postures Causing Back Pain
- Prolonged bending at work
- Sleeping on too soft or too hard surface
- Prolonged sitting in a poor position (slouching)
- An incorrect way of lifting of heavyweights
- Badly adjusted desk height or computer screen level.
Tips for Good Posture to Avoid Back Pain
#1 Avoid Work Place Stress on Back
Avoid standing with a bent back. Kitchen shelves and other working places should be waist high so that it is comfortable to work on and frequent bending is not required. Prolonged bending for cleaning and washing should be avoided.
#2 Use the Correct Method to Lift Load or Things
The load should be lifted by bending the knees and keeping the spine straight. The spine should not twist while lifting the weight. Precautions should be maintained while lifting children also.
When lifting the weight, keep your back as straight as you can, keep feet apart, slightly bend the legs with one leg forward and lift the object close to your body and lift with your thighs.
Try not to stoop or squat, tighten your stomach muscles and do not straighten your legs before lifting.
For moving thing, it is better for your back to push things rather than pulling them.
Divide the load into smaller units, if possible. If the things are quite heavy, always get some help.
#3 Exercise and Weight Control
Regular exercises strengthen the muscles of the back, increases flexibility and improve posture. Exercise also helps to keep weight under control. Increase in weight can lead to poor posture. One should do core-strengthening exercises for the abdominal and back muscles and flexibility exercises aimed at improving flexibility in your hips and upper legs may help too.
Quit smoking if you smoke because a significantly higher percentage of smokers have back pain as compared to non-smokers.
#4 Sleep on Proper Bed
Do not sleep on beds that sink. Sleep on a hard bed with a firm and thin mattress that keeps your spine straight and at the same time supports the weight of your shoulders and buttocks without sinking. The pillow you use should not force your neck into a steep angle. Too soft or too hard surfaces worsen the pain symptoms. Sleep on your back with a pillow under the knee if straightening the legs produces pain. You can sleep to one side with your legs bent. This will support your back. The bed height should be appropriate to easily get in and get out.
#5 Take Precautions While Traveling and Driving
While driving your vehicle the following precautions should be taken. Avoid driving on bad roads especially on two-wheelers. Vibrations and bad road jerks can increase the back pain on two-wheelers. The jerks raise the intradiscal pressures very high. Avoid long journeys at a stretch, take regular breaks in between.
It is important to have proper support for your back during driving. Support the back with a small cushion. The seat should be adjusted so that the hips and knee are slightly bent. The arms should be relaxed and bent at 90 degrees angle to the steering well.
Use mirrors for the maximum advantage so that you do not need to twist.
#6 Make Your Office Healthy
A good or well-planned office goes a long way in maintaining the employee’s physical health and spirit of working.
The office chair should be of the height wherein the feet can touch the floor comfortably. Small cushion to support the back. Sit up straight in the chair.
Do not sit in sitting position for hours together at a stretch. Take a break after every 30 to 45 minutes. Relax and stretch your muscles during the break. Don’t ever overbend the head; it will put stress on your neck muscles.
Do not do the same type of work hours together. Take a break to do different work in between.
#7 Use Computer Ergonomically
Adjust your computer screen position so that the tip of your nose is reflected centrally on the screen when correctly seated. The computer and the keyboard should be at arm’s length. The screen should be at 90 degrees to the strong light source, especially daylight.
Alter the screen angle to avoid glare and reflections. If possible, use a copy holder to keep your input data within your natural field of view.
The desk should be on a level with elbows when the forearms are parallel to the floor. If the desk is too low, raise it with raisers, if too high then use a footrest and raise your seat height accordingly.
Don’t stare at computer continuously; look at a scenery or painting or wall in between. This is to prevent the eye muscles fatigue.
The best place to use the laptop is a table and chair, not lap.
#8 Maintain Good Posture in Day to Day Activities
Certain good postures should become habits in day to day like –
Stand upright with the head facing forward and back straight. You should balance your weight evenly on both feet while keeping the legs straight.
Keep your knees and hips level and keep your feet flat on the floor. Take assistance of footstool if it appears difficult.
Stand erect with your abdomen and buttocks tucked in.
These good postures obviate the need for a visit to a pain clinician. For people who have already developed chronic pain syndromes, this becomes a way to come out of the situation.
For developing good posture, you need to constantly remind yourself of doing the thing. For example, for getting up and moving around every 45 minutes, I have set alarms on my mobile phone which goes off every 45 minutes.
#9 Use Good Footwear
High heels should be avoided as they put a strain on the back.
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