Proper postural alignment is essential to supporting the structure of the body (spine). Simply correcting poor posture relieves many common aches and pains resulting in headaches, lower and upper back fatigue, and soreness in the neck and shoulders. This is common knowledge for most people, but we don't normally practice it.
How Good Posture Feels
The missing piece of the equation is what it feels like to have good posture. We can look at another person with our eyes and come up with some good ideas whether THEY have good posture, but it's really hard to see OURSELVES so that approach is not very helpful!! A great exercise to find out what good posture feels like is:
- place your heels six inches from a wall
- pull your belly button in toward your spine (you should still be able to breathe and talk) - hold it!
- lift the shoulders up toward the ears, pull them straight back and down (away from the ears) - hold it!
- tuck the chin by slightly pulling it back toward the wall - hold it!
- lean back slowly, against the wall, so your hips, shoulder blades, and back of the head touch the wall while maintaining the lower and upper lumbar curves of the spine - TA DA . . .!!
Sitting is the worst thing we can do to our bodies because it places a lot of extra weight on the spine. The majority of people are forced to sit for up to 8 or 10 hours each day for work. Suggestions:
- get up every hour for a drink of water, to go the bathroom, or stretch
- incorporate sitting on a stability ball into your daily routine. If sitting on a stability ball feels uncomfortable, it's because your body is working harder to sit and that is a good thing. Getting started takes time and patience - start by sitting on the ball for 10 to 15 minutes and gradually increase the time as your body gets used to the change. Sitting no longer than 60 minutes is essential - no matter what you're sitting on!
Pulling in the transverse abdominus (see above) protects the spine. As we age, poor posture creates many physical ailments. While other causes of pain exist, don't you want to limit them to things you can't control?