5 Tips for Better Posture

With May being National Posture Month, it’s a good time to remind patients that slouchy sitting and bad tech habits are a common cause of back and neck pain as well as headaches and low energy. Once you’ve personally taken the first step towards better posture, it will be easier to help your patients. Look up and adopt new posture habits. Strengthen your patient’s posture with motion control postural exercise, and maintain it by designing a posture-smart environment at home, school, work and when you exercise.

Focus on one posture tip each day, and then recheck next month.

Tip 1: Check Your Standing Posture

8 Points of Good Posture

How’s your posture? As we get older, gravity and the muscle weaknesses of weak postures can make you feel and look old. Awareness is the first step to making a change for both you and your patients. The best way to get posture-aware is with your cellphone camera.

Check your front view picture and ask:

  • Is your head centered over your feet?
  • Are your shoulders level?
  • Are your arms evenly spaced from your body?
  • Do both thumbs face forward?
  • Can you draw a straight line from the center of your feet to your nose?

Check your side view picture and ask:

Can I draw a line straight up through the feet to the:

  • Ear?
  • Shoulder?
  • Hips?

Tip 2: Check Your Sitting Posture

3 Steps to Sit Taller

Our parents said “sit up straight.” But today phones, computers and other tech life habits are making many of us hunch over and look older far before our time.

Smart posture habits can make a surprisingly big difference in mind and body. Improving your body alignment can energize you, as well as improve alertness and self-esteem.

Step 1: If you’re brave enough, ask a friend to help you really take a look at your posture when you’re sitting engrossed at your computer. Have your buddy sneak three candid pictures of you during the day as you’re working.

Step 2: Time for the slouchy truth. At the end of the day look at the pictures.

  • Is your head in line with your hips, or is it jutting forward like a turtle?
  • Are your shoulders relaxed, or hunched up and rolled forward?

Step 3: Hatch a plan to create a new habit of sitting tall. Put a post-it note on top of your monitor that says “Sit Tall!”

Tip 3: Change Your Tech Habits

Smart Phone Life Habits

Tech, texting and computing have made posture the new major public health issue. But you can prevent neck pain, backaches, and other postural bio-mechanical problems by using tech intelligently.

Text and Talk with Strong Posture

  • Look up by lifting your phone UP to eye level
  • Keep your shoulders DOWN 

Look Up! Don’t Crane and Strain

Craning your neck to look down trains your shoulders to hunch up and your head to jut forward, creating forward head posture.

  • Hold your phone in your hand, and change hands sometimes
  • Don’t hold your phone between your ear and shoulder

Holding a phone by squeezing it between your ear and shoulder twists your neck and trains a high shoulder. Which is why it’s less comfortable to do this on the other side.

Be aware of your postural habits when using a mobile device – and while you have that phone out take a candid posture picture of a friend or loved one using their phone. Show them what they look like – because awareness is the first step towards making an improvement!

Tip 4:  Posture Break – Time to Stretch

Taking it to the mat for an evaluation.

When people spend most of their lives sitting, over time their physical bent over posture starts to feel normal. Better posture means better alignment of each PostureZone®, with head, torso and pelvis stacked in a line over your feet. Weaker posture is when they’re folded, and your each zone zigzags back and forth to balance. 

Floor Posture Test

Lie flat on a carpeted floor and then notice:

  • With your head touching the floor, do you need a pillow to get your head level? If so, your head is probably jutting forward when you’re standing or sitting. This is also known as forward head posture (FHP).

Posture Stretch to Lengthen to Stand Taller

Being aware is the first step to fighting back and improving your posture.

  • Lie flat on the floor.
  • Put a book under your head to make your head level so it is aligned with your torso. Open the book and turn pages so it’s only as thick as is needed to level your head without any strain.
  • Now gently press your head into the book and take 5 slow, deep breaths.
  • If you feel any strain, roll up a small towel and place under your neck for support.

Especially if your head is in a forward head posture, muscles and ligaments have likely shortened over time. Specialized alignment devices such as a Cervipedic Neck Relief support can help.

Tip 5:  Posture Break – Time to Align

Wall Lean.

The StrongPosture® motor control exercises (MCE) work by systematically aligning your perception of where your body is with objective reality. You may think your head is aligned over your torso and pelvis in good posture, but if you can’t lean comfortably against a wall with each zone touching the wall, then something is out of line.

Align each PostureZone with a Wall Lean

  • Stand one foot away from a wall (back to wall)
  • Lean back so your buttocks and shoulders touch the wall
  • Keep your head level – that’s a MUST!
  • Don’t look up! It’s okay if your head doesn’t reach the wall.

The point of the exercise is to align your upper body and hips, and then to pull your head back into alignment as best as you can, while keeping your head level and eyes straight ahead.

  • Take five slow breaths and TRY to press your head back towards the wall each time you exhale.

Ready to advance?

  • Move feet a bit closer to wall and repeat.

Take a posture break during your work day. Incorporate this with other 31 days to Stronger Posture tips.

For more info, check out http://posturemonth.org/31-days-stronger-posture/

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