4 Postural Mistakes And How To Help Them
There are 4 common postural mistakes people often make which can be improved with the right habits and exercises. If you have back pain, improving your posture is one of the ways you can help alleviate the pain and correct a lingering problem. Correcting your posture may feel odd at first, but that is simply your body adjusting to a new way of positioning and forming new habits.
#1: Slouching in a chair
Slouching does not always cause discomfort, but over time this habit can strain already stressed joints, muscles and soft tissues. This strain may increase tension in your joints and muscles which can cause pain. Get into the habit of sitting correctly. Keep in mind that it may not feel comfortable at first because your body has not been conditioned to support you in the correct position.
Exercises to strengthen your core, your buttock muscles and specific back extensions can help correct a slouched posture. To help correct your standing posture, imagine a string attached to the top of your head pulling you upwards. The idea is to keep your body in perfect alignment, maintaining your spine’s natural curvature, with your neck straight and shoulders parallel with your hips. Some other tips include:
- keep your shoulders back and relaxed
- pull in your abdomen
- keep your feet about hip distance apart
- balance your weight evenly on both feet
- try not to tilt your head forward, backwards or sideways
- keep your legs straight, but knees relaxed
#2: Standing with a flat back
A flat back means your pelvis is tucked in and your lower back is straight instead of naturally curved, causing you to stoop forward. People with a flat back often find it difficult standing for long periods. This posture is often caused by imbalances that encourage you to adopt such a position. Spending long periods sitting down can also contribute to a flat back.
A flat back also tends to make you lean your neck and head forwards, which can cause neck and upper back strain. Exercises to strengthen your core, buttocks, neck and rear shoulder muscles, and specific back extensions are recommended to help address a flat back.
Leaning more on one leg while standing can feel comfortable at first, especially if you have been standing for a while. But instead of using your buttocks and core muscles to keep you upright, you place excessive pressure on one side of your lower back and hip. Over time, you may develop imbalances around your pelvic area, which can cause joint and muscular strain in your lower back and buttocks. Other causes of uneven hips include carrying heavy backpacks on one shoulder and parents carrying toddlers on one hip.
To improve this posture, try to get into the habit of standing with your weight evenly distributed on both feet. Some exercises to strengthen your buttocks and core muscles to help correct uneven hips include:
- side-lying leg raises
#3: Hunched back and ‘text neck’
Hunching over your keyboard is usually a sign that you have a tight chest and a weak upper back. Over time, this type of posture can contribute to you developing a rounded upper back, which can cause shoulder and upper back stiffness.
When hunching over a computer, your head may tend to lean forward, which can lead to poor posture. Using a mobile can cause similar problems dubbed “text neck”. Upper back, neck and rear shoulder strengthening exercises, chest stretches and neck posture drills are recommended to help a hunched back which include:
- gently lengthening your neck upwards as you tuck in your chin
- seated rows in a gym or pull-ups
#4: Cradling your phone
Holding your phone handset between your ear and shoulder places strain on the joints and muscles of your neck, upper back and shoulders. Your neck and shoulders are not designed to hold this position for lengthy periods of time.
Over time, this posture can place strain on the joints, muscles and other soft tissues and lead to joint muscle imbalances between the left and right side of your neck. Try to get into the habit of holding the phone with your hand, or use a hands-free device. Some exercises for neck stiffness include:
- chest stretches
- neck stretches: gently lower your left ear towards your left shoulder; hold for 20-30 seconds, then repeat on other side
- neck rotations: slowly turn your chin towards one shoulder; hold for 20-30 seconds, then repeat on other side
Use these exercises and techniques to help improve your posture and correct bad habits. Eventually you will not even notice the corrections but you will notice the help with your pain levels.
Results will of course vary from person to person