Most of us are guilty of adopting poor postures when we stand, sit and sleep. While this may not cause you any trouble in the short term, over long periods of time these bad postural habits can begin to take a serious toll on your health and wellbeing. As well as causing temporary pain, musculoskeletal imbalances can result in a range of long-term health conditions. Luckily, there are plenty of easy ways to improve your body awareness, strengthen your muscles and reduce your risk of injury. Here are three simple steps to improving your posture.
1. Sit up straight
From unsuitable office chairs to soft sofas, there are certain seats we use everyday that can wreak havoc on our postures. When sitting in a chair for a long period of time, it can be tempting to slouch and slump down. However, while sitting this way may seem comfortable as your body becomes used to the position, it’s more damaging to your health than you may realise. Over time, slouching can place added strain and pressure on the muscles and discs in the back and harm the spinal structure. This can lead to chronic back pain, as well as causing tension in the neck, arms, shoulders and legs.
To combat these problems, it is important to make sure you have a chair that provides sufficient support for your arms, back and legs. The back of the chair should mimic the natural curvature of the spine to relieve pressure and encourage you to sit upright. Chairs with adjustable functions are particularly beneficial as they can help you to choose your preferred sitting position to suit your individual needs.
It is also important to get into the habit of sitting correctly. As a general rule of thumb, when sitting in a chair, your back should be pressed against the backrest, your arms resting by your side and your knees should be parallel with your hips. You should also try to avoid crossing your legs, as this can cause you to adopt an awkward posture.
2. Be aware of how you stand
Common, everyday actions, such as looking at our phones, carrying heavy bags on one shoulder and walking in heeled shoes can affect the way in which we walk and stand. While it may not be obvious at first, over time these habits can cause imbalanced postures and place added strain on your back, shoulders and neck.
To correct your standing posture, try to make a conscious effort to be aware of how you stand. Take a few minutes to think about how you carry your body. If you stand with your hips tilted backwards, your shoulders rounded, you tend to lean on one leg or you stoop forward, you’re doing something wrong. The aim is to keep your body in alignment and maintain the natural shape of your spine. Your neck should be kept straight to avoid your head from leaning forward and your shoulders should be parallel with your hips. Tuck in your pelvis, bring your shoulders back and make sure your weight in spread evenly on both legs.
There are also a number of strenght and stretching exercises you can do to improve your stance. For example, doing leg raises, planks and lunges can help to correct your posture. Yoga and pilates exercises that focus on your core, shoulders, buttocks, chest and neck can also help to make your muscles more strong and supple to support your body better.
3. Change your sleeping position
Just as we can make efforts to improve our sitting and standing posture, there are also things we can do to improve the way in which we sleep. Getting a good night’s rest can work wonders for our overall health and wellbeing, but it’s not always an easy task. If you are struggling to get enough shuteye, your sleeping position could be to blame.
While there is no hard and fast rule about which sleeping posture is correct, some are better than others. For example, lying flat on your back can aggravate a number of pressure points on the hips, back, shoulders and head. Lying in this way can cause aches and pains in these areas and cause you to wake up the following morning feeling sore and stiff. The ideal sleeping posture is one that supports these pressure points and the natural curve of your spine - and finding the right posture could be key to getting that all-important beauty sleep.
If you suffer from back pain, lying with your legs raised, your knees slightly bent and your back flat can help. For arthritic pain in the hips and knees, sleeping with the lower part of your legs elevated can help to relieve compression and strain on joints. Sleeping in the foetal position with your legs drawn up to your chest may also help. For people with an arthritic spine, the back should be kept as flat as possible and the base of the spine should be supported.
At Adjustastamic, our adjustable beds feature a number of different settings that allow you to find your optimum sleeping position. With the simple press of a button, the bed can be adjusted to suit your individual sleeping requirements and offer maximum comfort and support. By altering the height and angle of your legs and back, you can relieve the body's pressure points, keep your spine aligned and improve circulation, helping to support postural health.
Of course, these are just a few examples of the steps you can take to improve your posture, but it should get you thinking about how the way in which you sit, stand and sleep can affect your body. Correcting your posture may feel uncomfortable at the beginning because your body is used to being positioned in certain ways, but the numerous long-term health benefits it can bring will ensure it is well worth it in the end. For further information on issues to do with postural health, you can get in touch with your doctor.