Remember when grandma used to tell you to “stand up straight”? Turns out she was right. Each year, 50 percent of working Americans experience back pain, a health concern often resulting from bad posture. Spending eight to ten hours each day at a deskcan easily lead to poor posture, say experts. Other potential causes of poor posture: psychological distress and depression, lack of exercise, and poor flexibility. Here, three experts weigh in on how to straighten out.
Build a tall spine. Stay symmetrical, without a forward head posture, swayback, flat back, or rounded shoulders. Keep shoulders and pelvis level and feet pointed relatively forward. Avoid sleeping on your stomach or wearing worn-out shoes. Maintain a “tall-spine” posture when sitting, and take breaks after more than 30 to 60 minutes. Stand up, raising hands above head with arms extended and elbows in line with ears. Bend backward as far as possible, keeping hips forward and arms near ears. Repeat ten times.
Find balance. If you notice feet- and ankle-rotation issues, use an insert or orthotic to improve gait and posture. Eliminate faulty breathing patterns to decrease tightness in the neck and slumped posture. To improve balance, stand on one leg while maintaining good posture, or perform the cobra yoga pose to engage your upper-, middle-, and lower-back muscles; gluteals; and rear shoulders. Lie on your stomach with the tops of your feet on the floor, buttocks squeezed together, belly button drawn in toward the spine, and arms along your sides. Point thumbs upward, while lifting upper body off the ground. Maintain tight buttocks and feet in contact with the floor. Pause, and squeeze shoulder blades together. Return to the start position. Repeat 10 to 15 times for one to three sets, with 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
–Jeffrey Tucker, DC Los Angeles