Poor posture is one of the leading causes of back pain. Many of the activities you do every day contribute to eventual back pain by bending your spine out of alignment or putting repetitive stress on your muscles. Understanding how to care for your back through healthy positioning during everyday tasks is a great way to protect your health.
What Is Good Posture?
Your neck and spine are made up of small bones and soft tissue stacked on top of each other and wrapped with ligaments and muscles. This complex design gives maximum range or motion but also provides several places for things to go wrong.
Gravity is one of the biggest challenges to the health of your spine. At the top of your spine is a head that weighs about eight to 10 pounds. The natural way for you to carry that head is balanced directly on top of your spine. When you lean forward, for example, gravity uses your head to pull away from your spine, making the muscles and ligaments work harder.
Maintaining good posture means holding your neck and spine in their natural alignment, putting as little stress on your spine as possible. Good posture allows you to maintain a free-flowing column of space down the center of your spine where your spinal cord can be un-impinged.
How to Improve Your Posture
Being aware of your posture throughout the day is the first step in improving it. Think about how you spend a majority of your time. You might sit at a desk, ride in a vehicle, stand at the kitchen counter or recline on the sofa. As you go through your day, try to be conscious of how your spine is positioned and straighten up whenever possible.
Here are some ways to improve your posture:
- When sitting in a chair, sit straight up so your shoulders are balanced directly above your hips. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor and about shoulder width apart.
- If you work on a computer, keep your face back from the screen. Instead of leaning in toward the screen, sit up straight and bring the screen closer to you, if need be. Try to position the screen so you can see it while holding your chin parallel to the desk instead of looking down at it.
- Take frequent breaks to stretch and move around. If you are traveling in a vehicle, getting out and walking a few paces will help realign your spine. Periodic movement is good for spine health.
- Wear supportive footwear when walking. Posture starts at the ground with your feet. If your feet are not properly supported, your hips, spine and shoulders will adjust to compensate, putting extra stress on your back.
- Adjust your television to the height and angle of your favorite chair. Maintaining good posture when you are relaxing is important. Make sure when you sit in your favorite chair to watch TV, you can see the screen without turning your head.
The key to good spine health is in your daily habits, and improving your posture can have a positive impact. To learn more about improving your spine and relieving back pain, schedule an appointment at NJ Spine & Orthopedic today.