As children, many people are taught to sit up straight and practice good posture. But these lifelong habits do much more than just exude confidence and make a good first impression.
Bad posture is one of the most common causes of neck and back pain, especially when one slouches while sitting, standing, and walking.
On the contrary, good posture involves maintaining a neutral spine with natural curves at the base of the neck, the middle back, and the lower back. Good posture also vertically aligns the ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. This article will address poor posture pain, ways for improving posture, and easy exercises for posture that can be practiced every day.
The Perils of Poor Posture Pain
Aside from whiplash, poor posture is one of the most common causes of neck pain.1,2 There are many muscles in the neck that become stiff and tight when the head and spine are not optimally aligned. Many people sit with their heads extending out in front of the shoulders. This position contributes to degenerative disc disease because the weight of the head puts excess pressure on the vertebrae.3
Slouching also puts a strain on the various parts of the back by constricting nerves and blood vessels.4 This type of back pain often comes and goes when a person switches positions and starts in the neck before moving down to the lower back.5
How to Fix Posture in Daily Life
For people who work in an office, consider switching from a sitting desk to a standing desk to change positions throughout the work day. One easy way to start fixing posture with daily activities is to use a chair support for the lower back while sitting in an office chair.6,7 Simply keeping the shoulders relaxed and remembering to stand tall can help improve posture with minimal effort.
Doing simple stretches and exercises while at work will keep the body limber and also provide mental stimulation. Breathing in slowly through the nose and filling the belly with air helps establish better posture too. For joint stiffness caused by poor posture over the years, try JointFlex, a powerful pain relief cream that helps people keep moving without a prescription.
The Benefits of Improving Posture
Perhaps the most convincing benefit of improving posture is less pain, but there are many other good reasons to learn how to fix posture as well. Better posture will keep the bones, muscles, and joints aligned and working well for many years. It helps prevent abnormal wear and tear of joint surfaces and decreases the amount of stress put on the spine. Also, good posture helps prevent fatigue because the body doesn’t need to use extra energy to function and the muscles are being utilized more efficiently.
Great Exercises for Posture
Yoga, Pilates, and core fitness programs are excellent workouts for improving posture and reducing posture pain.9 Meanwhile, leg extensions work the core muscles to help stabilize the hips, curl-up crunches work the abdominal muscles and obliques to align the core,10 and back extension exercises strengthen the muscles that extend the spine and the lower back.11 Other great yoga-style exercises for better posture are plank pose, cat/cow pose, and reverse tabletop pose.
Consider attending a yoga class led by an experienced instructor and asking for individual guidance on posture-improving poses that are unfamiliar or challenging. It’s never too late to correct one’s posture and to start incorporating exercises for posture into daily life.
REFERENCES FOR POOR POSTURE PAIN AND TIPS FOR IMPROVING POSTURE EVERY DAY
1. Morrison, G. (2018 October 19). How poor posture causes neck pain. Spine Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/neck-pain/how-poor-posture-causes-neck-pain.
2. Yeomans, S. G. (2016 May 11). Ten tips to prevent neck pain. Spine Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.spine-health.com/blog/10-tips-prevent-neck-pain.
3. Sellers, J. T. (2014 June 16). Step two of DDD management: Reduce lower back stress. Spine Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/degenerative-disc-disease/step-two-ddd-management-reduce-lower-back-stress.
4. Spine health: Five negative effects of bad posture. Bay Imaging Consultants Medical Group. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.bicrad.com/blog/spine-health-5-negative-effects-of-bad-posture.
5. Moeller, A. (2016 September 29). Is poor posture causing your back pain? Spine Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.spine-health.com/blog/poor-posture-causing-your-back-pain.
6. Andrews, K. (2013 December 4). Ten tips for improving posture and ergonomics. Spine Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/ergonomics/ten-tips-improving-posture-and-ergonomics.
7. Posture. Better Health Channel. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/posture.
8. The power of good posture. Rush University Medical Center. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/power-good-posture.
9. Pilates and yoga – health benefits. Better Health Channel. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/pilates-and-yoga-health-benefits.
10. Forlander, D. A. (2013 August 1). Why strong core muscles matter. Summitt Medical Group. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/news/fitness/Why%20Strong%20Core%20Muscles%20Matter/.
11. Helpful exercises. Columbia University Department of Neurological Surgery. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.columbiaspine.org/helpful-exercises/.
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