I am often asked how to improve posture by people experiencing chronic back pain, and other conditions like head aches and neck pain, and have written this piece to address some of the useful tips for posture problems. First of all I have to say that I am not qualified to give medical advice, nor will I give any. So start out by consulting a doctor before you try any of the posture correction tips in this article.
Reasons for unhealthy posture
In today’s society people simply don’t work out as much as before or have the same activity level as when the workplace consisted of a lot more physical labor. We sit in front of the computer, slouching and with bad typing posture, usually for hour after hour. No wonder people are experiencing increasing levels of back pain.
There are also other reasons for pain in the back and neck regions that can’t be fixed simply by correcting bad posture, so as I mentioned at the start, please consult with a doctor to sort out what you problems are stemming from before you tackle the problem on your own.
Root of the problem
Now that you know have been told by your doctor or physician that you need to improve your posture, lets have a look see at where the posture problem lies. Most of the day we sit in front of the computer typing and drinking coffee and as the day passes on our backs simply get tired of the bad typing posture. The thing is, when you slouch, a lot of weight from you upper body is leaned over, meaning an extra strain on your lower back which has to prevent you from tipping over. However, with a correct posture most of the weight will be distributed down through your body, where both your lower and upper back, and abdomens, pitch in to keep you in balance. This means a lot less strain on one part of your body.
This would be the first step you should take to improve posture, and this is done by finding a healthy and neutral sitting position. In the picture below you can see a bad posture to the right and correct posture on the left.
As you can see, slouching is a no no. You want to sit with a straight back and neck, not having to lean forward to see the see the screen if you are working with a computer. You also want back support from the chair so that the dynamic and static muscle load is minimized. If you have the furniture for it, it is best that your hands are under your elbows when you type.
But how to improve your posture doesn’t stop there. You might also have a bad standing posture, which not only is unhealthy for your back, but also makes you look fat and old. The same applies here, as many people slouch by leaning forward and placing excessive loads on their lower back. For a proper standing posture your shoulders should be back and down, and your chest elevated. Of course, this should be done without straining yourself. You jaw should be held level, and head pulled back. On the right we see a bad standing posture and on the left a correct standing posture.
Yoga for Back Pain
A popular form of self-treatment these days is yoga for back pain (I have to repeat again, ask your doctor if is OK for you to try yoga). Yoga can be practiced at home or in classes, but it is really recommended to learn the basics in class before you try this at home.
Once you have the basics down you can train at home with a Yoga DVD. This is quite popular because it gives you’re the flexibility of training for a better posture and to get rid of back pain at home. You decide when and for how long.
Strength training program
I should also mention upper body strength training, which is a great way to improve your posture. When you sit or stand, both your front and back should work together to keep your body straight and in balance. However some people have week back muscles or abs and just can’t keep a healthy posture.
Simple back and abdomen exercises will do, and these can be performed at home. Crunches are great, and so are leg raises. Start out doing these for 2-3 minutes each every third day, and after a week or two increase to every other day. Upper body strength training really could do wonders for your back, but be careful and always start out slow if you are not used to doing these exercises.
I better round this of now, so this doesn’t become to long. Just remember that to improve posture is a lot easier now than it will be in 5-10 years time when you have that many more hours slouching over your computer. How to improve posture really only requires you to stand and sit correctly, and get some workout for your back and front.