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How to improve your posture
The best way to imporve your posture will be different for everyone but there are some common considerations that will be important for most people:
Posture Self treatment
1: Manage Sitting Time
In many cases time spent sitting is the primary factor in the development of postural problems. Even if you exercise for an hour every day, if you sit for long periods, especially in a poor positon, this is a battle you won’t win. For those that work at a desk there may be no getting around having to sit for some period of time but there are variations and alternatives that can help:
- Change your set up: If you are using a chair change its set up throughout the day; height/ angle of seat pan, angle of back rest etc. This will help you avoid continuously stressing the same areas of the body.
- Sit-Stand desks: If you work at a desk I would highly recommend an adjustable sit-stand desk. These allow you to move from a sitting to standing work position. More isn’t always better however and standing for too long, particularly if not used to it, can also be harmful. Alternate between sitting and standing, and change standing postures frequently. Anti-fatigue mats can also be useful when standing.
- Treadmill desks: Allow you to walk whilst working.
- Swiss Ball/ Balance Disc: This will help you use different muscles as you sit.
- Squatting – Long before chairs and seats we used to rest in a squat position (in fact many cultures still do). This is a fantastic way to maintain good mobility and strength throughout the whole body.
If do you have to sit for work make sure your chair set-up is as back friendly as possible. Click here for infomation on proper chair set up.
2: Move more
Walking is the perfect anedote to sitting. Aim for at least 1 hour of walking per day (but this doesn’t have to be in one go). When walking remember to:
- Walk upright: Think about someone pulling you tall from the crown of your head.
- Relax your shoulders.
- Swing your arms: This not only gets your spine moving but research also shows that shows that swinging the arms from the shoulders (not the elbows) reduces spine loading up to 10%.
- Walk briskly, without over striding. Small slow steps results in more spinal load, increasing symptoms in many low back cases.
3: Targeted Exercises
In most cases targeted exercise is needed to either strengthen weakened postural muscles or lengthen short / tight muscles. Here are 3 simple foam roll exercises targetting common postural probelms or download our free ebook:
Three exercises to fix the back your desk broke
Learn which areas of your body are affected most by a long term sedentary lifestyle and 3 easy exercises you can start doing today for less pain, less stiffness and improved health.
Treatment for poor posture
In chronic or stubborn cases, in addition to the strategies outlined above, hands-on treatment may be required. There a number of effective treatment options available including:
Changes in posture are often accomapnied with restriction of specific joints. Joint restriction is most commonly seen in the upper neck, mid-back, pelvis and feet. Chiropractic or Osetopathic manipulation is a controlled, specific force applied to a restricted spinal or extremity joint. It is often associated with a ‘clicking’ or ‘popping’ noise, similar to what you might hear when a wet glass is lifted from a table – this is simply caused by a release of gas from the joint as movement is restored. Manipulation a very quick and effective approach to restore proper movement to restricted joints to improve posture and reduce pain.
Mobilisation also works to free restricted joints but involves slower movements so is not usually associated with ‘clicking’ or ‘popping’.
Soft tissue work
Changes in posture also effects the muscles and other soft tissues (ligaments, tendons etc), with some muscles prone to tightness and others prone to weakness. A variety of soft tissue technqiues can be employed to address short or tight muscles to improve mobility and posture and to reduce pain. Common soft tissue techniques include ischamic compression, cross friction, active release, graston and pin and stretch.
Dry needling is a therapeutic technique using an acupuncture needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate the underlying tissue. It is very effective at treating deep trigger points (knots) in the muscles which may be limiting movement, disturbing posture or casuing pain.
If you are looking for effective treatment for your posture click here to see how we can help.
- Liebenson. C., Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
- Kolar, P. (2014). Clinical Rehabilitation. Alena Kobesová
- McGill, S. (2007). Low back disorders: evidence-based prevention and rehabilitation. Human Kinetics
This post was written by Steffen Toates. Steffen is a chiropractor at Dynamic Health Chiropractic in Jersey CI. For more information about Steffen click here.