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How to Safely Correct Your Posture

As I was growing up, my mother had a constant demand - “shoulders back!” I had terrible posture and she was determined to correct it before it led to where it eventually did land me… in the chiropractor’s office, with chronic back pain from a lifetime of poor posture. I should have listened to my mother!

Good posture helps us stand, walk, sit and lie while placing the least possible strain on supporting muscles and ligaments. Good posture helps us keep bones and joints in the correct alignment, reducing the risk of arthritis and joint pain; allows the muscles to work more efficiently, preventing fatigue; helps prevent muscle strain and back pain, and reduces the stress on the ligaments that hold the spinal joints together.

There are many contributors to poor posture, including stress, obesity, pregnancy, weak or tight muscles and high-heeled shoes. Poor flexibility, a poorly designed workstation, and unhealthy sitting and standing habits all contribute to poor posture.

We all know that good posture is important for good health, and most of us have seen someone whose hunched back shows the signs of years of bad posture. But beyond “sit up straight” and “shoulders back,” do you really know how to sit, stand, and lie for the best posture? 

How to sit for better posture

When sitting, your feet should touch the floor. If they don’t, invest in a footrest. Use the backrest of your chair to support your lower and middle back, and relax your shoulders, keeping your forearms parallel to the ground. Most importantly, avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time - stand up and walk around and stretch at least once every hour or so.

How to stand for better posture

Keep most of your weight on the balls of your feet, with your knees slightly bent. Let your arms hang down naturally. Stand straight and tall, pulling your shoulders back (“shoulders back!”) and tuck your stomach inwards. 

How to lie for better posture

The most important step in proper lying posture is to find the mattress that’s best for you. Go with what feels most comfortable to you, whether that’s firm, soft, or somewhere in between. Always sleep with a pillow. Try not to sleep on your stomach, as this forces you to twist your neck excessively. 

Your chiropractor can help you improve your posture. Ask him or her for exercises to strengthen your postural muscles, and practice them regularly - and remember, shoulders back!

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