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Years of slouching (standing, walking or sitting in a drooping way) and being sedentary can lead to one’s muscles becoming shortened and stiff.
This is critical because opposing muscles in the body are always playing a tug-of-war. When both sides are in balance, posture is good. When one side starts pulling more, posture shifts in that direction.
Take the chest muscles as an example. They connect through a tendon to the front of the shoulders.
Then there are the back muscles that connect to the back of the shoulder, forming the opposing team.
When the chest muscles are tight, they out-pull the back; the shoulder rolls forward and one is stuck hunching over.
Imagine how much things will change around you only if you took good care of your muscles and don’t allow them to fall in a silent slumber due to unhealthy habits. Imagine someone who is standing tall, with his head held high?
Don’t you get the feeling that this person is ready to take on the world and will have a bright future ahead of him only because his body language is ticking all the right boxes?
We seldom pay due attention to our posture and thus have no idea how misaligned our body may be.
The following are some guidelines on how to achieve good posture:
- Stand with your weight resting mostly on the balls of the feet, and not on the heels
- Keep your feet slightly apart, about shoulder-width
- Let arms hang freely and naturally down the sides of the body
- Do not lock the knees when standing
- Tuck the chin in a little to keep the head level
- Ensure that the head is square on top of the spine, not pushed out forward or backward
- Stand straight and tall, with shoulders upright
- When standing for a long period of time, shift weight from one foot to the other, or rock from heels to toes.
- Stand against a wall with shoulders and bottom touching wall, making sure that the back of the head should also touch the wall
- Be sure the back is aligned against the back of the chair.
- Avoid sitting in a drooping way or leaning forward, especially when tired from sitting in the chair for long periods
- For long term sitting, such as in an office chair, be sure the chair is efficiently and safely designed to properly support the back and that it is a custom fit
- When sitting in an office chair at a desk, arms should be flexed at a 75o to 90o angle at the elbows. Adjusted accordingly, if this is not the case.
- Knees should be even with the hips, or slightly higher when sitting in the chair
- Keep feet flat on the floor.
- If there’s a difficulty with feet reaching the floor comfortably, a footrest can be used along with the office chair
- Sit in the chair with shoulders straight
- Don’t sit in one place for too long, even in safe office chairs that have good back support. Get up and walk around and stretch as needed.
- Raise the head up and eyes looking straight ahead
- Avoid pushing your head forward
- Maintain proper alignment of the shoulder with the rest of the body
- Sit firmly with the back against the seat for good back support
- Maintain a proper distance of the sit from the pedals and steering wheel to avoid leaning forward or reaching.
- The head-rest should support the middle of the head to keep it upright. Tilt the headrest forward if possible to make sure that the head-to-headrest distance is not greater than four inches.
Sleeping Posture with Mattresses and Pillows
- A firm mattress is generally best for proper back support, although individual preference is also important.
- Sleeping on the side or back is usually more comfortable for the back than sleeping on the stomach
- Use a soft pillow to provide proper support and alignment for the head, neck, and shoulders…
- A relatively flat pillow placed between the legs will help keep the spinal cord aligned and straight if sleeping on the side
Problems that come with bad posture
- Chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain
- Foot, knee, hip, and back injuries
- Muscle atrophy and weakness
- Difficulty in breathing
- Indigestion issues
- Nerve compression
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
3 steps too a straighter back
- Roll: Muscles that are tight develop knots and scar tissues that then makes them stiff, short and painful. Also, sitting down for an extended duration reduces the circulation of fluid in and out of muscles and joints, leading to pain and problems. Rolling does take care of both issues.
Start rolling very gently. Focusing on the largest parts of the muscle first, applying only a small amount of pressure and roll slowly.
Muscles to Roll are: Back, Glutes and Hams, Quads, Calves, Chest, and Lats
- Stretch: Just as with rolling, start slowly and build upon it. One should feel the impact in the muscle or at the edge of it, and not in the joint. Do each stretch for at least 30 seconds at a time for 3 or more sets, resting as needed in-between. One can use shorter bursts of stretching to work into it, but for lasting, improvement one will need to work up to at least 30 seconds. Above all, just get started right away and actively work to include stretching in your day.
- Walk: Walking is the most under-rated and arguably the most important activity you can do. Walking will help your posture, increase your lifespan, reduce your body fat, and improve your mood.
20 or more minutes of walking daily will get you good results and are recommended.